Earlier this week the vet turned up for Mary and Martha’s (our cows) TB test. Today he came back for the second part of the test, to see if they had reacted to the first test which would tell us whether they were positive for TB.
My nerves were quite on edge. I paced the landing, every now and again looking out of the window to see when they would be finished. Now any farmer would probably wonder at my overly emotional response to this test. To us though, Mary and Martha are our first cows, they are our responsibility, we love the task of caring for them, but are also sometimes a little daunted by it.
If the TB tests came back positive our cows would have to be destroyed and although the government would give us compensation, this wouldn’t replace these beautiful animals we are raising. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not overly sentimental, but the thought of them being destroyed was not something I wanted to have to go through, nor have to explain to the children.
The thing is though, EVERY experience here is part of a learning curve, it’s part of the children’s education. How will they learn about veterinary care unless they see it and hear about? How will they learn how to handle loss unless they experience it and are gently supported through it? I would by choice choose to protect my children from all harm, but that would not help them to grow in life. In much the same way, God allows his children to go through difficulties, because it is during those times we grow in faith.
The life we lead here is full of real experiences, some of those beautiful and some which are harder. We come across these experiences each day. For example, we see the chickens waiting by the door of their run every morning and yet we not able to let them roam free due to the current laws about avian flu. Stephen, our champion egg collector, goes to get the eggs each day and has to persuade the chickens back from the entrance with tasty scraps. To him it just makes the job harder, but to me and the more sentimental children it is sad to know that they too are in lockdown.
Some experiences are filled with joy, like the birth of our beautiful calf. This is one joyful experience which has made a indelible imprint on all of our hearts. Nearly a year ago, after a night of waiting, seeing signs that Mary was imminent, (I recognised, from personal experience, the signs of a creature ready to pop!) and popping out to check on her, her calf arrived calmly at 9am. Madeleine was the first to spot her arrival and Christopher was soon on hand, having delivered calves before, at the farm where he works. He helped Mary’s calf round a bit to help her to start licking her. The children watched in amazement as the afterbirth came away and this tiny calf, almost deer like with her gangly legs, rose to her feet and attempted her first steps, before falling and trying again. This was a great way for our children to have their first lesson of the day.
There’s book work, I’ll tell you more about that another day, but then there’s moments like this, moments that can never be learnt from a book, moments that you have to see to understand. A book can tell you how a cow gives birth, but a biology text book can never explain how it feels to see life outside of the safety of the womb begin. Once that feeling has been unveiled, the moment of learning gains a positive emotion which enables the brain to hold onto that information in more than one way. Learning, especially when you are young, needs to be multi sensory. Hands on farm life evokes all the senses at once.
Now, 10 months later, our lovely cows were to be tested and their lives depended on the results of this test. Would today be a peaceful school day, or one filled with hard painful lessons?
Praise God, the tests were negative and our cows are safe for another 6 months. Honestly my relief was palpable! The children on the other hand took it all in their stride. They don’t worry, they don’t think about the future and what might be, they live in the moment. I have much to learn from them.
Our children’s peace in the face of uncertainty and freedom from worry, reminds me of Jesus’ advice to us all, when he says, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?’, Matthew 6 25-27, and again he says, ‘Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.’ Matthew 6:34.
In these days that we are living in, everything seems uncertain. We could fill our days with fear or faith. We could look at the things which might be, or focus on the present moment. I say these things as a lesson to myself. Worrying is something I could do as a profession, but I fight that urge and choose to walk by faith. When my stomach starts to flip, I reach out to God and ask for peace. He never fails. Sometimes I need to reach out multiple times a day, but he’s always there and he always will be.