This week continues to remind us of the early offerings of spring. Things are starting to pick up, but it will be another slim week for SFF at the Market. CSA members, please remember the abundance that comes with late May-September. At the market this week, Eric will have eggs, stew hens, chicken feet, green garlic, leeks, transplants of tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, fennel and basil. Next week we should have radishes, spinach, green onions, carrots, and more!
Thank you all for your kind words about Maple. She really was a great cow and we miss her terribly. After Maple died, Milo and I hurried over to Jeanne’s. As we arrived Jeanne and Eric were standing in the drive. As we approached them Eric asked what we should tell Milo. We ultimately decided we should let Milo see Maple. It was a tough decision, as even I really didn’t want to go see her. Eric told Milo that Maple had died. Of course Milo had no idea what this meant. As we went into the barn Milo saw Maple and the calf. He greeted the calf with, “Good morning, bull calf!” Which was followed by a, “Get up Maple.”
We have had numerous discussions with Milo about being cautious around Maple. We have allowed him to be in the barn with her when she was in the stanchion, but have told him he had to go to the other side of the barn door when she was going in and out.
Milo continued, “Get up, Maple, get up.” As I started to sob, Eric told Milo, “Maple will never get up Milo. She’s not able to get up ever again.” We sat and watched Maple for a minute. Milo finished with, “Maple not getting up, ever.”
Milo and I got in the car and went to school. I sobbed the whole way. By the time we got to school I looked like a puffy, wet mess. As I dropped Milo off I explained to the teachers that our cow had died. Milo assured the obvious, “Mama’s crying. She’s sad.” But no mention of Maple.
Over the last two days we can hear a cow mooing, or pass a herd on the way home. Milo has asked about going to see Maple a few times, I have reminded him, “Milo, Maple died. We won’t get to see her in person ever again. We can look at pictures, and we may see her in our sleep, but we won’t ever get to pet her again.”
I’m sure if a child psych professor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were to read this, we would quickly be told how we screwed this up. I’m sure some of your are judging our decision to share this with Milo. We figure that life and death is such a part of farm life, we had to introduce the topic at some point.
Have you had to explain death to a little one in your life? What did you tell them? How did they respond?
UPDATE: W.G. the bull calf, has gone to live at Farmer Bill’s. He will be surrounded by another calf who lost his mama, and numerous other mama cows. He will be loved and cared for, fortunately we can visit him anytime we want.