I don’t remember leaping over the four foot barbed wire fence, but apparently, it had been quite spectacular. All I knew was that I found myself knee deep in mud, my shoes ruined. It was ironic, because not an hour earlier I had told my friend Sumi that I was going to be careful on the farm. I had forgotten my usual hiking-gone-riding boots and had to wear my decent boots which I had brought with me. I didn’t spare it a second thought though, my attention focused on the sight in front of me.
A month old Simmentaler calf had slipped in the quick sand like mud at the watering trough and one of the other cows must’ve pushed her head under. Sumi and I were working with our young two year old gelding when something told me to look at the beef cattle her father kept who had just come in to drink. I had seen what I thought was the calf rolling in the mud. It had taken me only seconds to realize that I didn’t see the calf’s head and it wasn’t rolling, but jerking. My heart skipped a beat and before I had time to think I was alongside the calf. I think my instincts had been honed by hours of watching lambs being born, always ready to leap over the fence to keep an eye out for the ones born still in the amnion sac. I grabbed the now still calf by the shoulder and pulled up but my hands slipped. Cursing, I shoved my arm up to my shoulder into the boggy mess, not caring that I took half of my braid with me and grabbed the calf around the neck, pulling her up – using my weight to get her loose. The moment her head was free, I reached out and removed the mud from her nose and mouth, her tongue stark white from asphyxiation. By now, Sumi was with me, having taken a few seconds longer than I had to figure out what was going on. By now, the calf wasn’t breathing and my first instinct was to do mouth to mouth with it but sense and practice told me to wait. There was still mud in the calf’s airway and if I blew it back into her lungs it could do more damage than good. So I gave her a good and proper shake, bunching her stomach and then grabbing her tail and bending it as far back as I could without breaking it. The calf jerked and took a sharp breath. A pain response which saved her life. I took more mud from her nose and mouth and then, when we were sure she was breathing (and continuing to breathe) Sumi helped me pull her out of the pit and onto the dry land next to it. We both continued to rub the calf and clear her airways as the sticky turf mud poured out. I went on my knees behind her and lifted up her behind to help with the process and Sumi washed the mud from her ears and eyes. It took ten minutes for the calf to regain its sense but when she lifted up her head, I found myself laughing and hugging her, praising her for her will to live. Sumi watched me for a second, then started laughing with me.
“You did it.” She said as she hugged me. “Well done, you did it.”
Her words meant so much more. Yes, I had managed to save the calf. But, I had also managed to hold on long enough in this country of mine to get a job. On Thursday I was offered a contract as a Sales Representative at an Animal Pharmaceutical company. A job in my field. One that would utilize not only my official degree, but the various other subjects in biochemistry that I had studied alongside my animal science. It’s as if I had been shaped and moulded for this job ever since I started studying, ever since I had chosen to rather go into Animal Production than Veterinary Science.
I have done it.
I have saved a life, but my life has also been saved.
My new world, my new life begins 1 September.