Life — and death — can be messy

It’s spring — wind, dirt, feed wagons, skies filled with brown clouds instead of rainclouds — and new baby animals.

new babies are cute, and it’s fun to watch them play when they’re
several days old and have sorta learned how to handle those legs that
seemed so unmanageable the first day.

One of my
granddaughter’s 4-H ewes had twins a couple of weeks ago. The babies
were born with no problems, but they needed a little help getting under
way and locating the grocery store. The mama turned out to be a good
mother, even though it was her first time, so we all mostly stayed out
of the way except for administering some colostrum, and making sure
they had plenty of straw bedding and protection from the cold.

They are frisky now, and my granddaughter is hoping they’ll be fine specimens by fair time this fall.

— like most important life events — is messy. There’s the afterbirth,
of course, and blood shows up all over the place even when the delivery
is perfectly normal.

Messes are part of all animals’ lives.
There’s vaccination, castration, earmarking, branding. When someone
makes a snide comment about all that, it wouldn’t hurt to ask, “How was
it at your birth? Did your mother not have messy afterbirth or bleeding
— or pain? And afterward, did the doctor give you any shots?”

I can see those of you who are mothers smiling about now.

other end of life is messy as well. Our family lost a horse not long
ago. His problem was old age. He could barely get around, and he needed
special feed because his teeth were so bad. The veterinarian did his
best, but it was the old guy’s time. What happens in that case is …

In the old days deceased horses went to what was
called the “glue factory,” but now it’s been decided we can’t have that
— it’s “inhumane.” The owner (in our county) must get a permit and
figure out a way to transport the body to a certain section of the
landfill. That’s “humane?”

I, personally, would rather the
horse I loved have the possibility of giving life in another form
rather than being “dumped” like a chunk of garbage.

of giving life in another form brings me to the idea of eating. Having
seen, smelled and touched all this life and death messiness, I’d just
as soon my dinner beef steak be all the way dead — not rare.

attended a cattle growers meeting once where the caterer miscounted, we
were the last table to be served. Our steaks — I swear — had maybe been
waved over the grill on the way out. A veterinarian at our table said,
“Bring me some combiotic. If I give him a shot he’ll get well.”

The table had little candles for decoration, so we all took turns cooking our steaks, a bite at a time, over the candle flames.

It was good, but messy.

Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: