Apr 26, 2010

It Seemed Like Such a Good Idea at the Time...

For dairy farmers, bull calves are sometimes a liability.  Because of this, many dispose of the bull calves shortly after birth.  But we, like some of our friends, choose instead to give them as much of a life as possible.  That translates into a span of about 8-9 months, from birth in the early Spring until slaughter time in the late Fall.
 We provide the warm sunny days, shelter, love, organic barley, and beautiful grazing. We love to know the calves have had the joy of life, frisking around in the fields, being fed on grass and natural grains.
Because of this, another farmer, Mårten Dahlberg, contacted us and asked if we would like to take some of his overflow bull calves.
During calving, you never know what you are getting as far as bulls or heifers are concerned until they actually arrive so its not unusual to end up with a surplus quite early in the game.
We waited for a day when Gustav was out of school and he and I arranged to go and pick them up.

With gas prices what they are (approx. $8.00 per gallon), we wanted to multi-task if possible, so Gustav loaded up some things that had been left at our farm by the interning family - a baby bed, etc. -

then he hooked up the horse trailer and we were on our way.

I am 'geographically challenged'.
That is the kind way the children have of saying that I have absolutely no sense of direction.  When I come out of the ICA in the tiny village of Junsele where I have lived for over three years,  I still have to look for landmarks to know which way to turn to get home to the farm.  So when Manny was longing to take a trip to the south of Sweden a little before his mission, and his money was in short supply, he offered to sell me his Route 66 GPS, programmed for Europe.

He even included a short tutorial on how to use it in the deal.
Sounds like I should be OK, right?
 After gassing up we headed out, confident that we would be able to make it smoothly to the village of Marieberg 138, about two hours away,  where the Dahlberg farm  was located.  We had called ahead and they were expecting us.
On our way, we stopped in Sollefteå, dropped off the baby bed, and took a quick run through the new Lidl store that had opened just a few weeks before.
Despite the icy roads and cold day, we were feeling pretty good so far.

The village of Marieberg was supposedly in the vicinity of Kramfors - see it there toward the bottom of the map?  We made it that far with the help of the GPS and also a fold out map we had just for a little extra security.  From then on,
it was a nightmare.

Look on the map:
We found Bollstabruk, NOPE - we found this wood house in Nyland, NOPE - we drove up hill and down, through multitudinous villages that all looked like each other, on icy, snow-packed country roads only to end up trying over and over again to turn around a 1977 Volvo sedan with a horse trailer on the back in an area about 3 meters square.

We kept passing this church, passing this church, passing this church....
Oh, wait a that the SAME church?
After a while we couldn't even tell!

And through it all, the designated British Female Voice on the GPS just kept saying, "Turn around as soon as possible.  Turn around as soon as possible."
It was so frustrating...I began to feel a stress level of Warp Factor 8.

Just then Gustav looked over at me - it seemed it had suddenly dawned on him, in his sixteen year old mind, that there was a problem.
Being the perceptive young man that he is, he said evenly, 
"Nainy.  You need to calm down.  We are two intelligent people, we have a GPS, we have a mobile phone that has money on it, and...see those farms up there on those hills?  They are full of people who are willing to help us if we need it."

The voice of reason. Of course he was right.

I thought to myself,  "This child is correct. I need to just calm down and relax here and think this through.  Anyway, we are probably much closer than we think we are."

 I felt better.

And just then, in his "reading the road sign" voice, I heard Gustav say,

"Cape of Good Hope....2 kilometers".
Even now, nearly a month later, I still laugh out loud thinking about it.
It was so incredibly funny, and his timing was perfect.

We did find Marieberg 138.
We did find the Dahlberg Farm.
And we did get the calves loaded up safely.

 The one at the beginning of the post, this black and white one on the left, the brown on the right,

 and finally, the winner of the 101 Dalmatians look-alike contest!
We did it!

The roads were so icy and the grade so steep that Mårten went ahead of us in his tractor to make sure we got up to the main road OK.  If you look closely in the picture above you can see the side of the infamous Route 66 GPS suction-cupped to the windshield.  Since that excursion, we have improved in our ability to program and use it.
There was nowhere to go but UP. 

We made it home safely.
 One of the little calves went into a calf box to learn to drink from a bottle.  It was only two days old and had only been with it's mother. 
The other three who were over five days old went in with our own calves  into "Play Group" as we call it. 
They are thriving and well and have adjusted beautifully. 
Soon they will be out in the lush green pasture, biting up the tender grasses and lying in the sun. 

Maybe it WAS a good idea after all.  


Anonymous said...

Hey Nainy! I have been laughing to this entry all day! I can smell and hear all the sounds through your narration! The picture and text about the church cracked me up the most!! The baby animals are so cute!! Love- Louise

Anonymous said...

Dear Nainy,
I read this for a couple of years ago, already, after have found it by searching the web for "Gerdien Sahlin". WHat you have written moved me to tears that time as well as now. The pianist was my beloved mother, and the violinist with her on the picture of the CD you bought is my father. I lost my mother a year ago in cancer. Almost until the end of her time she struggled to spread music in this part of Sweden - the spot where you met her must be one of the hardest places they/she ever have had though - and she has left an enormous emptiness behind her for the audience that experienced her music as well as her family and friends. I just had to tell you that I am so glad I read this and I wish I had shown it to her, I never thought of it then, strange enough. I wish you all the best to come and thank you again for your beautiful words. Best, Saskia Sahlin