Friday, March 3, 2017
Yesterday I spent a lot of time looking for and not finding a calf.
The calf was born on Tuesday, a healthy, colorful heifer. I tagged and vaccinated her and she was up and nursing and doing perfectly fine.
The last time I saw her was around noon on Wednesday, still doing perfectly fine.
Yesterday the heifer's mom was allowing a different calf to nurse.
That's a bit unusual, but not completely unheard of. Nevertheless it prompted me to want to lay my eyes on the cow's real baby.
I looked and looked and couldn't find her. I hiked the tree line where she'd been born, and tramped across much of the surrounding pasture, searching. I racked up more than five miles of hiking, which was good, but didn't find the calf, which was worrying.
Not being able to find a calf isn't unusual. Calves -- young calves especially -- are really good at laying up and holding still. It's a survival trait of herding prey animals. Every year I have a hard time finding one or two or several calves. And most of the time -- nearly always in fact -- they show up when they decide to show up, none the worse for wear.
Being unable to find the calf is in some ways a good sign, because a sick or injured calf is usually pretty easy to find. They're not trying hide when they're sick or injured, or at least they're no so good at it.
So being unable to find a calf always causes a bit of worry, but not a lot. They almost always show up within 24 hours, and almost always in perfect shape.
One thing I did notice while hiking, though, was the presence of several coyotes. There seemed to be three big ones running more or less together, making a continuous loop around the cow herd. Not a close loop, I never saw any of them nearer than about a mile, but it's unusual to see three of them together during the day.
So my worry increased, and my fear was that the calf had been predated. As a working hypothesis it was worth thinking about, but it didn't really pass the smell test. If she'd been predated she wouldn't have disappeared entirely; I'd have found the carcass.
But that didn't prevent me from worrying, and by the time I called it a day last night I'd pretty much convinced myself that the calf had been killed.
So it was nice to find her with her mom this morning, trying out her legs in the dancing fashion of young calves, skipping around whole and healthy in the frosty air and bright March sunshine.
Worry is, as far as we can tell, an entirely human characteristic. It's part of our sapience package, a feature rather than a bug. Worry can help us navigate life in the real world, help us plan, encourage us to formulate preventative strategies.
But worry is all in the mind. It's about what might or might not happen, not about what has happened or will happen. Worry has absolutely zero impact on reality. Worry does not cause bad things to happen or not happen.
I could have worried about this jet smashing into Venus, for instance.
Or the moon...
Dodged a couple real bullets there, didn't we? Not a bad idea to maintain positive control of the mind.