This is Blueberry. The addorible Char/cross calf.
Colton loves the calves, and who could blame him. They are small, fuzzy and playful. Though this calf in particular made an impression on him. Mostly because he was laying so close to the gate and did not scamper away when Colton came up. Colton decided he must be named Blueberry. I personally don't see the harm in naming an occasional calf/cow. But, it is a subject that I debate a lot. Afterall these are not our cows, and furthermore they are not pets. These calves very realalistically are only here temporarily until the fall when they are sold. There purpose in life is for you the consumer to enjoy as your next great cut of meat. Hard reality, but true.
Anyway, I always kind of felt like it was o.k. to name the occasional calf or cow, even though they are with us only temporarily. Mostly because I want to enjoy them while we have them. But, now I'm wondering if it is really such a good idea.
Back in Michigan, we (or Ron & Shawn) always had a cow to raise for beef. We alway's named them. Even after Colton was born we continued on. When he got to talking we started letting him name the critters. It was adorable to hear what he would come up with. We have had a Blueberry, a Rasberry Easter, a Mater, and a McQueen, ( You would never guess he is a Cars movie buff) I think there was one more but I can't remember at the moment. Each time one of the cows left and as he started to notice. My answer to his questions and sorrow has always been that the cows had an important job to do. He has thus far been pretty accepting of this explanation. Though he has not made the connection with the "job" being to feed our family.
Anyway, Back to the new Blueberry. As goes the cycle of life. Not everything is perfect, nor does it run smoothly all the time. Blueberry the other day was just not himself, He was sleeping more than usual and I noticed, not getting up to eat. I mentioned it to Kyle, who checked him out. Turns out he has a condition called Bloat. (If you would like to read more about this please select the following link: http://www.csubeef.com/files/Calves/Abomasal_Bloat.pdf ) It is very difficult to treat, and even harder to distinguish the cause.
Mr. H came in awhile later and let us know what was going on. He tried to call the neighbors who had more experience in this area. But, could not reach anyone. So, I did the only thing I could, I jumped online and quickly searched for treatments. Then Mr. H, Colton and I headed to the barn to help. We did everything we could, Mrs. H even came down and help. Colton waited patiently, he helped by holding various items for us. He was very brave, I was so proud of him.
Unfortunetly, we where too late. When it became evident that we where loosing Blueberry. Kyle had me get Colton out of the barn. So, we grabed a piece of rope to play with. Then went for a walk and had our first ever discussion about death. Colton asked when Blueberry would get better. I explained that he had an infection in his tummy that has made him too sick. Blueberry was going to go to heaven. (I don't have an issue with the animals in heaven thing at the moment - Colton is only 3, no need to out Santa Claus yet either) Colton processed this for a few moments. Then he asked, "Why did Blueberry get sick?" I said, "Sometimes animals get sick and we don't always know why." I truely had no idea why Blueberry had gotten sick, so why try to explain what I didn't know. Then the big question came. "Will Blueberry be dead?" Colton asked. "Yes, blueberry has died." I replied.
Colton was quiet for a few more minutes. Then he asked, "Was he hit by a truck and that is what made him dead?" This caught me a little off guard. I said, "No, Blueberry had an infection in his tummy that made him too sick, that is why he died." Colton, looked at me for a minute, then looked down at the piece of rope in his hand and said, "What can I rope?" and that was pretty much the end of discussion. Later, Colton and Kyle talked a little more about Blueberries passing. The only other question he had, had to do with Blueberry coming back from heaven. Kyle explained that there where old cowboys in heaven who would take care of Blueberry now. We haven't heard another word about it.
I'm not sure any new parent really knows how to handle the death card perfectly. I don't know if we handled it right or not, only time will tell. Pesonally, I still feel that my 3 year old son deserves some of my protection from the hard issues of life. He has the rest of this life to learn these hard lessons. I also, don't think lying to him is right either. But, who knows what really happened to Blueberry. I know that biblically speaking animals don't have souls and thus can't receive the gift of salvation and live eternally in heaven. But, its also hard to imagine that they are just done for either. When God creates the new heaven and new earth I would hope we will not make it devoid of animals. And why couldn't some of the animals that are near and dear to us be recreated then? (Please note I do not claim to have any bliblical context to back up this thought. It is just my thought.) Either way, I don't believe it is a matter that will cost us salvation. And when Colton asks for a more detailed and direct explanation and I believe he is ready for the answer I will give it. But, for now my son is 3 and animals can go to heaven.