We are laughing so hard at this shared memory that I am about to snort my soft drink out of my nose. I’ve met up with Sharon and Rick, 7 years after I spent a long weekend with them on their farm, and they are still shaking their heads in disbelief. There is a genuine fondness between us, the kind that builds through shared laughter and discovery.
We are remembering the pinnacle of my visit to them at the end of March in rural Manitoba, 2 am, pitch black and bone-chilling cold.
I’m watching my step.
One false move and I could be flat on my back and in a whole pile of shit. Literally.
Despite having no experience in cattle farming, and being a vegan to boot, I am about to be a midwife to a calf. Sharon is my guide as we do our nocturnal rounds. We have taken the night shifts and come out every two hours to check on all the moms to be, noting who might be ready to drop and making sure no one is in distress. These temperatures are cold enough that a little calf left unattended for too long would suffer. We are vigilant in the stillness.
I’m trying to be quiet but inside I feel like a child at Christmas. Despite the hour, the chill, the necessary alertness (a pregnant cow is not to be trifled with) I am absolutely delighted with myself. What an experience to be a part of! It has been 2 days and nights of rounds, and finally, on day 3, it is time…
As I watch a new mama feel her contractions, I see that she instinctively knows what to do. It is immediately apparent that these beauties don’t need my help - the other cows circle encouragingly around her, she lowers her head to bear down, I am in awe.
We’re keeping vigil.
restless, I do what any reverential human would do –
Don’t ask me why, but I think that singing a little hymn might give her courage. Soon the still night is broken with her bellowing a melody over my baseline of Ava Maria. My hosts look at me like I am crazy and yes, years later still talk about this as a moment of insanity witnessed.
“You started to SING!”
And that is why we are laughing so hard.
Apparently singing to cows is not in the cattle farmer’s guidebook to good husbandry.
As exciting and beautiful an experience as it was to see the calves born that weekend, something even more inspirational settled into my soul that night.
It was the joy of saying “yes!” and daring to build connection.
Because that night of shared experience was between strangers.
I was spending 4 days in the home of people I had only just met. A few months before, Rick and Sharon who were high school friends of my husband’s, had been passing through town 30 years after graduation. We were meeting for the first time, the conversation followed the usual “what do you do?” until it veered to the decidedly unusual- I heard myself exclaim, “if you ever need help delivering calves, just give me a shout”.
I do not know whatever possessed me to say that. But I did.
I do not know whatever possessed them to say ok. But they did.
So a couple of months later I found myself getting ready for time on a farm.
Everyone I told shook their head in disbelief.
But you barely know them!
What will you talk about?
How will you help?
Won’t it be awkward?
What if you don’t get along?
What if they are weird?
What are you thinking?
Well, here’s what I was thinking. I’m a gypsy at heart. I love to roam and explore. I am happiest in the middle of a new experience. I don’t like the beaten path. I want a life where one adventure comes after another and I want to live amazing moments not watch them all on Netflix. But how?
By making a choice …to say “yes!”
Stepping outside my comfort zone, my desire to control.
Going into the unknown, where I can’t hide.
You see that year I had dared myself to do some magical thinking and to step into every opportunity that presented itself by answering YES! instead of putting up the normal excuses of “time, money and opportunity being scarce”. I leaned into each conversation with “why not?” and “if not now, when?”
And what I discovered is that, couched in curiosity, the most ordinary of moments can lead to the most extraordinary of experiences.
A vegan and a cattle rancher can sit together and have breakfast (albeit with one casting a suspicious eye at the avocado I placed on the table), both caught up in the wonder of a new little life bleating nearby.
To get somewhere new we have to try something new.
To understand and respect a different perspective, we have to first experience it.
To Celebrate What’s Right in the World we have to be out there living in it.
All while humming a hymn in the moments where we need a little courage.
What can you say “yes!” to?
The adventures of life are all around us if we dare to step into them.
If not now, when?
In Celebration, Tania
Ready to say YES?
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