I have a policy that I don’t do morning chores on the two days each month that I work in the Dairy Star office. It’s a policy I instituted when we farmed up north and I worked in the newspaper office one day each week. If I went out to the barn on a office day, there was simply no way of guaranteeing I’d be to the office on time. 

It was one of those one-thing-leads-to-another situations. Morning milking might go just fine, but then we’d find a fresh cow or a heifer would get out and just like that, I’d be late. Even if I’d agree to go out and “just help with getting cows in,” I’d see that a calf needed more bedding or the heifers needed more hay and tell myself, “Oh, I can do that real quick.” 

Yeah, right. It’s amazing how much time a few “real quick” jobs can end up taking. And, once again, I’d be late. (Interestingly, the same thing happens in the house before bedtime. I tell myself, I’ll just start the dishwasher or put a load of laundry in or write a quick blog post before I go to bed. All of sudden, it seems, it’s an hour past bedtime. How does that time go so quickly?)

Then we had kids. Now, even if I don’t go out the barn on office days, I still might be late. My life is the epitome of the mantra, “Anything can happen.” And most office days, I swear, everything does happen. It’s like a Murphy’s Law of Dairy Farming and Parenting: Everything goes wrong on the days you need to be somewhere at a certain time.

My last office day was no different. It all started when I decided I’d feed the bottle calves that morning. Since we had so many new calves I thought it would just be easier for me to feed the calves than to write all the instructions down for Glen. I should have known better. 

Feeding the bottle calves went according to plan. Then, I figured I should check on the close-up cows. (See, one thing leads to another. It never fails.)

I could see from a distance that Divet had a calf beside her. Just my luck, I thought. As I got a little closer, I could see that it was a big calf. Divet was overdue, so it made sense that it would be a big bull calf. A few steps closer, I had to do a double take. My mind raced: “Is that calf red? Sure enough. Holy buckets! This calf shouldn’t be red.” Divet is a black and white cow, and although she’s a red carrier, she was bred to a black and white bull who is not supposed to be a red carrier.

I had a flashback to a similar morning up north. That morning I had abided by my rule of no morning chores. Then, on my way to the office, I saw that Betina had calved. From the road, I could see that the calf was red. I stopped the car, hiked up my khakis so they wouldn’t get wet in the dewey grass and hopped over the electric fence. I made my way to the cow and calf, repeating “Please be a heifer!” with each step.

It wasn’t. It was a big, beautiful bull calf. 

Back in the present, I found myself murmuring, “Oh, please be a heifer, please be a heifer!” as I approached Divet and her red calf. When the squirrelly little calf finally let me get close, a quick check confirmed the improbable – it was a heifer. A big, red, beautiful Dimple granddaughter. Our first red heifer calf of the year and likely the only. It was like Santa came early.

I jumped for joy and was suddenly glad I had decided to help with calves that morning. Because I never would have believed Glen if he had called me at the office later to tell me Divet had a red heifer calf. There’s never been a better reason to be late for work.

Little did I know the fun had just begun. To be continued in the next issue...

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 70 cows near Melrose, Minn. They have two children – Dan, 3, and Monika, 1. When she’s not parenting or farming, she’s writing for the Dairy Star. Sadie can be reached at gsfrericks@meltel.net.