The Hardest Thing We’ve Ever Done

Wow. This past week was rough!

If you are new to my page, I am Olivia Schoentrup. I grew up on a small cattle farm in Indiana. I showed cattle in 4-H, I helped raise show cattle with my dad. I helped many laboring mothers have calves they would have given up on. I had to sell the animal I raised, knowing their purpose in life was to feed millions. I have assisted on surgeries in the middle of the barn, in the middle of the night, only for the calf to die and the cow need to be sold. This is what I grew up on. I never showed emotion. I knew what my duty was and what those animals were intended for. But this week… man, oh man, this week…

I always dreamed of owning my own cattle farm. My husband, Paul, helped that dream come true the year we got married. We bought a small farm on the outskirts of town. We bought two heifers (that means they haven’t had babies yet, but they were pregnant when we bought them). Thelma and Louise. It was getting close to their due date. For cattle farmers that means walking out to the barn 2 -3 times during the middle of the night until those babies are born. I was checking every night for almost 3 weeks and kept wondering when these babies would get here… (I have NO patience, ha!)

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I got up at the same time one morning to check on the heifers; there was no activity. Nothing. So for the umptenth millionth time, I got ready for work and left the house. Then I got a call from Paul, “I need you to call the vet NOW! Thelma had her baby and she prolapsed, the calf is alive but cold, I moved the calf to the house to get warm but I don’t know what to do about Thelma”. I immediately turned my car around and drove home, trying to get ahold of any vet in the area that could come help us. I made it home, went into the house to check on Paul and the calf (they were good, cold, but alive, and that’s all that matters at the point in time). I went out to the barn lot to check on the cow… but she wasn’t moving… she laid there… lifeless… and I lost it!! I cried harder than I have ever cried in my life. I was pissed, I was sad, I was confused as to why I was crying so hard. It sucks to lose a cow! The money, the time, the life; it’s all very frustrating! But I was confused as to why it was different this time. Why was I so upset?! DAMNIT! I just kept saying.

I still don’t know what exactly was different this time. Maybe because it was my money, my farm, my investment. Maybe it was because it was a first for my loving husband and I was more upset for him, having to go through this pain for the first time and knowing that it will not be the last time and it FREAKING SUCKS!!!!

The only thing we can take away from this experience is that life still moves on. I know it’s just a cow but it’s our business, our livelihood. And through all this, Paul and I supported and held onto each other. And that makes me happy.

Unfortunately, there was nothing we could have done for the cow, Thelma. A prolapse is when the uterus turns inside out, coming outside the body (it happens in humans too). We believe Thelma had a uterine prolapse due to the calf being so big. Sometimes you can fix it, and sometimes you can’t. We did everything we could, but it wasn’t enough.

I’m sorry to share such a sad story with you, but this is our life, this is our farmstead, and this is what really happens on a farm when tragedy strikes.

Once the dust settled a little, we picked out a name, the baby is a boy and his name is Tito. (the picture with the calf with the ear tag that says Tito is him, such a cutie!)

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To finish up the week, Louise had her baby. Although, that birth wasn’t a cake walk either. Like Tito, this new baby (turns out it is a boy as well, his name is Leo) was ginormous! Easily weighing 90 pounds (usually they weigh about 60-70). After a long birth, Leo took his time getting up and eating, but he is active and healthy and so is his mom! Paul and I could not be happier!

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We are excited to start a new breeding season and help manage our birth weights a little better.

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