Once more into the breach

Difficult the calf, who was always so hard to feed and who ironically never got the scours, has come down with pneumonia.  Her tall bony body is thumping with it. The man said calves never recover once they start to thump, that I should just let her go. He said it kindly.  Like many of the farmers around here he misjudges my small blonde foreign-ness.  He is a good man though. I like him.  So I forgive him that.barn

When I was going to school in New Zealand we used to sit an exam called University Entrance.  This was during one of the years  that my mother was very ill, bedridden, and with five brothers and sisters and me being the eldest girl it was a frightful year for me as far as schooling went. All my homework was done very , very early in the morning. Often sitting on the beach, my eyes turned to the page, my ears on the open bedroom windows of my little brothers and sisters. When they awoke for breakfast and to get ready for school I put away my books and managed breakfast and getting them ready for school, then on my bike I got and rode up the hill to school myself.  So Though I never got behind in my work I quite simply did not have time to excell. Excellence takes hard work and support and Time.  So, this was the period that I realised that each failure is a lesson. Each time you got a bad score on a test it was like a challenge to find the way to do better on the next test.  I kept devising and revising strategies to not only succeed but to oust the Average from my Above Average reports.

It was possible to be accredited this exam. You could pass on the strength of your in-school exam scores throughout the year. If you were not accredited you  went into town to the National University Entrance Exams in a big hall on five consecutive days and sat your six exams.  If you did not pass the exams sitting, then you returned to school after the summer  holidays and started the whole year all  over again or you dropped out and did not go to University.

On this day the teacher, Sister Marion, passed out an envelope to each girl in class. It was late summer the last few days of school. Christmas was coming. A convent school – we wore simple red skirts and white blouses.  I loved that uniform. Inside the envelope were our marks. I opened my envelope amidst the rustle and then straining silence of the other girls, the salty summer breeze stirring the curtains in the classroom. My heart sank,  I had missed being accredited by three points. And Sister Marion had very sweetly written me a wee note  saying she understood I had had a very difficult year and she looked forward to seeing me again next year and would do everything she could to help me  succeed. She just assumed in the nicest way possible that I could not pass the exams by sitting them in Town.

Her sweet note made me SO MAD that every night for the next month after feeding the family and reading to the Littlies and getting them to bed and tending my mother and cleaning up and all those other jobs I studied furiously. Every inch of the walls in my bedroom were covered in cramming notes. My father tested me over and over again. On anything every night. I turned the deaths of kings and the pertinent dates of Wars into nursery rhymes.  Bedtime stories were discourses on why Hamlet was such a wet blanket. I worked on the beach and in boats and chanted as I rode my bike to the shops.

Then I sat my exams and passed with flying colours.

But the point of my story is that  if someone says I will probably fail I GET MAD.111a2

Difficult developed breathing problems very fast yesterday morning so I started antibiotics and put him back on the intensive electrolytes. The man who owns the calves I am raising  looked at Difficult yesterday and said –  That one will be dead by morning.-  I was shocked.  I told him in no uncertain terms that I have worked like a dog to keep these animals alive and I am not giving up on this last one. Not at all. He said  – well you brought the others through I suppose.  I have never seen a calf recover after it has had blood in its stool (Though of course he did not say Stool)  so maybe you can save it.  But it looks bad. I have never seen one recover when it is thumping like that.-  He looked at her and shook his head. – Nope,- he said, – Dead by morning.

He was just trying to teach me to be a bit tougher I think. Bless him. He is a lovely man. A really decent man, the family has had some terrible hits lately and I am happy to raise the calves for them while they find their feet  and I understood in a way what he was saying but REALLY!!  He misjudges me, I do not give up without a fight and there is plenty left to fight for.

Don’t tell me I can’t do something. Don’t tell me I will fail. I will fail on my own terms thank you very much.

I picked The Difficult Bobby up, she is a long heavy leggy thing and carried her to another pen in the big barn so she did not infect anyone else, laid down More straw, brought in water. Nanette from Australia sent me some Rescue Remedy and it arrived that same morning so I dosed her with that through the day and during the night. I force fed her electrolytes, stroked her vigorously for as long as her mother would and helped her drink her big bottles laced with yoghurt and egg.  And Difficult IS alive this morning. Standing UP alive.  Not good, this is true, but alive.

I restarted at 4.30 this morning and now it is 9.07am and she is still alive, standing up chewing on hay alive.  Though she is in deep trouble.

So once more into the breach my friends!

Don’t you wonder sometimes how people actually see you.  I remember years ago a man looked up and  saw me walk into my friends house with all my beautiful children -the youngest baby was on my hip. Something ran across his face, stalking his jaw. I did not know him well. He smiled at me and said – I did not know you were a mother. I just thought you were one of the beautiful people.- Naturally I smiled back and kissed him, children giggling from my hips to my knees.  We are still friends the man and I.kunekune

Oh and my phone is sitting in a basin of rice after falling in the calf water last night. I had it propped up with the phone light on so I could see without turning barn lights on. Just so I don’t get Above Myself it throws itself into water!

I am sorry this is late this morning. I wanted to tell you these things but I needed to finish the chores first.

I hope you have a good day.

Love celi

ps Here is a picture of me feeding the calves when they first came. Sent by a friend this morning.

miss c, celi



69 Comments on “Once more into the breach

  1. Miss C, you fight hard, with grace and courage and conviction and a lot of other things, too. We’re all behind you.

  2. Blessings on you and Difficult, miss c. I am the same – someone tells me I can’t do something, I put my ears back and do it better than anyone expected.

  3. You are so passionate about your work. I commend you for that and I pray a healing prayer today for Difficult! God Bless!

  4. Hi Cecilia,
    I am a friend of Amanda’s, in fact she is my oldest friend! And as soon as she came home and told me about her time with you I have been following and just in love with your farm. Thinking of you and the calves today!

  5. HE might not have been able to save them, but you may. They have the best chance w you. Had rescue sheep that we couldn’t get straightened out and switched to nuflor and finally had some better luck. May be something newer and even stronger. Banamine helps lungs too. Always add that in plus makes them feel so much better which helps everything too.

    • Ah yes, i add aspirin, which helps with the pain, an animal in pain is so sad.. I will try and find the Banamine . thank you and your WHOLE milk tip was a good one- from then on I put the water in a different bottle with the electrolytes for later.. and fed the full strength, just less more often.. c

  6. After reading this post there is a lump in my throat and water leaking from my eyes. You are the most amazing, courageous, inspiring woman I have never truly met but feel as i I am so lucky to know, even if only over the odd air waves of this internet thing.

  7. Wow you have your work cut out! But if anybody can pull Difficult through you can. Sending positive thoughts x

  8. I have no medical contribution to make & can only agree completely with Deb & send my highest hopes & prayers. I did think this morning the great speech might end this way: The game’s afoot! Follow your spirit and Cry: God for Celie, Little & Difficult the Calf!

  9. If Difficult has a chance in the world of being saved, you, Miss C can pull her through. Wishing you strength and stamina.

  10. You serve your animals with such love and determination! Someone upstairs is watching and when the time comes for you to go, you will have one HECK of a welcoming committee! Love, Gayle in sunny Sacramento, California

  11. A life well lived 🙂 You remind me of myself when I was a teen. I was raised by my maternal grandparents, my parents’ marriage and lives a total failure, but my grandparents were loving & raised us on a farm/tree nursery. It was paradise to us little ones. I had no pressure to succeed in school, my grandfather thought hard work was the answer to success. When I realized in 6th grade that students were getting awards for high grades, I decided to dig in and achieve them myself also. I graduated high school with honors. My aunts & uncles were so surprised, they had no idea the hard work I had accomplished on many late nights of study. I was pretty proud of myself!

  12. Well all he had to do was look at Little and how you brought him back from the brink and his mind would have changed from that old opinion. He obviously doesn’t know Miss C. that well. If ever there was a person who defined…If there is a will, there is a way…it is you Cinders!

  13. you have really had the muck chucked at you in the last few weeks..how you manage to keep gooing is a miracle in itself…but you plod on…and on …and on.
    I shall include Difficult and you in my prayers tonight…that should help a bit…have Faith!

  14. I thought something must be happening when there was no post at the usual time. You may be tétue, but you are a tower of strength, and those calves are so lucky to have you. I had to stop reading for a bit, to stem the tears! Praying and keeping everything crossed looks weird, so I hope it works
    Lots of love

  15. You are amazing Ms.C , you define all odds with your strengths and strong will. I understand, years ago my first husband told me that I could never attend college here in the U.S. I did it anyway and graduated the same year he did. You go Girl!

  16. Oh Dear, off the swings back onto the roundabout 😦 Rooting for Difficult and you from here. Laura

  17. It’s so interesting: Me too went to school with nuns and we have been five kids in our family. A huge challenge for my slight built and not always healthy mother (she’s still alive though, being in her eighties). Your touching story tipped some sad memories of my childhood. Was not always easy… And interesting that the caring and understanding love of Sister Marion made you so furious that you’ve been driven mad to pass your exam at the end. Glad you! But what hard hard work it had been for you.
    So sorry for wee Difficult. You are such a tough fighter. I love, that Nanette send you the Rescue Remedy and that it just came in time. – Deb speaks just out of my heart..
    Beautiful pictures today!

    • I was not mad at Sister Marion, just Mad. She knew me very well, I sometimes wonder whether her letter was not a direct challenge – she would have known that I rose to a challenge. Maybe my farmer friend is the same. Both kind. c

  18. Fighters are born. And all better be glad they are and jump into the breach without a thought except it must be done.
    Everything in your life has lead you to here. Whew. What a journey and what luck you have all that. HUGS with energy sent

  19. What Deb said I can only say amen to. Today’s post sums you up, Cecilia. A wonderful story of grit and glory. We are all pulling for Difficult.

  20. Yes the soaked phone. You didn’t have quite enough frustration for the day!

  21. It never would have occurred to me to think of this epic struggle as a matter of you failing, or not failing, or failing on your own terms. Although, yes, I definitely would feel that I have failed a sick animal of mine, both if I didn’t fight for it at all, as well as if it turned out in the end that I merely succeeded in prolonging its ordeal… I certainly don’t envy you in your difficult situation–but I’m convinced that you are an expert in Listening to your animals, and that goes a long way in weighing the pros and cons of every step. I wish you the greatest success in all of your efforts–and it looks like you may already be halfway there!–and I, too, am rooting for the poor little calf. Get well, Difficult, quickly! And get ever better and stronger, Little! And everybody else, for goodness’ sake, stay well!!

  22. I just love the stories from your past Celi! This one certainly gives us yet another wonderful look into your determination, love of life and the fight for doing what you set your mind to do. So hoping the Difficult hangs in there. xoxoxo

  23. Darling Celi, you ARE one of the beautiful people, starting inside and working out. i can add nothing except to encourage more of the strong rubbing of Difficult, which will act like the physio they do in hospital when you have pneumonia (been there…) to try and shift the fluid out of you lungs.

  24. Perhaps the farmer is quietly worrying about how he can possibly repay you for all of the effort you are putting in to these calves. Good Luck with Difficult, I really hope she makes it.

  25. If it can be done you will be the one to do it… “Failure is not an option if success is just a matter of trying harder”. You have the energy and prayers of the Commenters Lounge et al have your back, and I’m pretty sure the company of Angels at your side.
    Thanks for taking the time to tell us a story… love it.

  26. Oh, big big hugs and bags of blessings to you Celi. I get mad when people tell me I can’t do something too! xx

  27. Have just changed my computer background to that of you feeding those bony calves . . . . methinks that one will stay in place for quite awhile to remind me that the operative phrase is ‘never give up’! Whatever the final outcome! If one fails one can look oneself in the mirror and say ‘I did do my best’ ! We all need people to emulate: oh yes that does include ‘eha’mama’ 🙂 ! May all the blessings from all around you be with you . . . .

  28. I have said it before and will say it repeatedly—You. Are. Amazing. I love your strength and determination and know that your animals are in the best possible hands.

  29. Celi, I have no doubt that the calf will make a full recovery! I know just what you mean; I don’t handle being told “you can’t” well either!

  30. I haven’t been here in such a long time, it’s too bad you have a sick calf, I’ll be rooting for Difficult and you over the next few days.
    Your determination is admirable, I never doubted you had it! My dear Dad used to help me study and we made up rhymes to help me remember too, I’m just sorry he couldn’t be around to see me graduate from university (first one in my family!)
    I do hope you’ll be able to make our lunch in the Windy City!

  31. Miss C, what a torrid time for you.
    I’m writing to let you know I passed three exams this week and only one more left, then I will be qualified……….as you have been with me for much of the journey thank you so much for all your generous encouragement.

      • Miss C, Miss C Miss C! Your the first to know. My final assessment has been marked and just came into my inbox. Which means I have finished nutritional medicine…..just so excited!

  32. So many times I just want to drop my work here, jump in the old truck and make my way north on the back roads to be with you. I do not know a lot… but I am a good helper. Every time you talk about your young life, I feel a connection. I think we have been friends forever – even back to the first twinkling of stars.

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