Hanging out with Boo-boo – 2021

Do you wanna hear just a little something random about life on the ranch? We are bottle feeding a calf again. In a way its no big deal, many calves all over this country get a bottle fed start. This calf is kind’ve special to me though. You see this calf was a twin, born last week to our cow named Sofi.

Sofi’s birth announcement. Russ knew that word about Sofi would be special to me.

Sofi didn’t embrace the challenge of raising two calves herself and left one for us to raise. This is quite common with calf twins. When we began to suspect this was the case Russ sent Morgan to saddle up and tour the pasture looking for the 2nd calf, who was not with Sofi. He found it, roped it, stood over it with his horse and called Jill to come pick it up. Jill and Morg loaded it into the jeep and Jill started home, enroute she noticed that the calf had super perky ears which meant that it had a Batman silhouette. Jill sent a message to the family chat, “I think we should call it Batman” and included a picture of those perky ears. I could see Jill’s point but I had already been considering a name and had a different idea.

When you spend regular time with a creature making sure they have a name is quite important. We talk to and about our bottle fed calves multiple times a day and we get alot of affection going for them so having a name for them just seems natural. On any given day in June you heard these words at our ranch “whose turn is it to feed Bob?” “how did Bob do with his bottle?” “man Bob is a bottle hog, he just guzzles it down”, “good morning Bob, how was your night” “do you like my singing Bob?” A name is essential and we like our calves names to reflect some part of their reality. Bob, our previous bottle fed calf got his name from a Canadian folk song. The song is about the experiences of Jesus’ unknown brother Bob. The cow who birthed Bob was named Mary, she had twins and took well to one and not the other. We figured Mary the cow would keep “Jesus” and the forgotten calf would therefore be Bob. Its a comical song by “The Arrogant Worms,” you can look it up on Youtube. Anyways, we take some care to find the right name for the calves we tend closely. So I answered Jill’s message to the family chat, “I see why, but I am wondering about Boo-boo.”

I got my way. The family actually all quite liked that name.

But why Boo-boo? Well, exactly 30 years ago this month I had this huge adventure with friends named Sofi and Andrew. We were assigned to go ahead of our Up With People cast, get on a plane in Toledo, transfer in Chicago, fly to Stockholm and then make our way to an island between Sweden and Finland called Aland. We would settle in there and do all the advance work for the arrival of the cast four weeks later. I had never left North America or been immersed in a language other than french. It was quite an amazing time where at the age of 23 I started to feel quite grown up. Our team worked hard and got the job done, but of course there was lots of learnings. One really important learning that I had came from working with Andrew.

Andrew hard at work.

He was a super energetic and charismatic person who didn’t do things the same way as I did. Is there a Canadian way of doing presentations and connecting with people? I am not sure. There was a Kathy way at the time. Andrew had a different way. I remember struggling with it, thinking it was not “correct”. The beauty of a four week term of close collaboration and teamwork with a clear end goal is that we got to see the outcomes of our varied efforts. Quite clearly I had been wrong. Over the weeks I watched Andrew weave his magic. I came away with a super important learning, that there are many different ways to be, that we are all gifted in ways that we must honor, that the world is better when we don’t all fit into a mold. That feels like common sense now, something we see on social media memes and nod in agreement with. I think the urgency of that is different though when something pretty big is at stake. For us in 1991 it was can we build a network here? Can we sell these tickets? Can we find homes for 110 cast members? Can we create a meaningful schedule for this cast visit? It was a challenge to let go and let be, to trust that our diverse ways would lead to greater success. They did.

Andrew, Sofi and I featured in a newspaper article about our work and the upcoming visit of Up With People.
Sofi, myself, our sponsors and Andrew after the casts final performance.

What I learned in such a vivid way was really important.

I got thinking about this learning in these last days. I have been hanging pretty close with Boo-boo the calf. It was my job to fight the good fight and get him adjusted to bottle feeding.

Here I was celebrating getting a full bottle in on our first episode of feeding together.

This time in Boo-boo’s presence has given me time to think about so many unfolding things. I found myself wondering if my days and weeks with Sofi and Andrew planted the seeds that allowed me to go on and committ my life to Russell. How is it that I found my way clear to marry someone who forges his own path, fits no molds and has gifts that I never thought I was looking for? I see a connection, not a direct line but a solid line between this vivid learning of 1991 and what I would say “I do” to in 2000. It makes me realize how fruitful it is to let ourselves get outside our comfort zone, be challenged and receive the blessings within those times. That makes me wonder about what kinds of seeds are being planted right now as we live in this terribly uncomfortable space of drought times. I believe that as hard as this is, somehow, working within us and alongside us God will wrestle good out of this, despite the barren looking ground there are seeds of good being planted.

Perhaps only one question remains for tonight. Why name the calf Boo-boo? Pretty simple really. Andrew had a commonly used nickname, it was Boo-boo. Almost exactly to the day, 30 years later, I had the chance to experience another story where the main characters were Sofi, Kathy and Boo-boo and I jumped on the chance. Our whole family is enjoying getting to know Boo-boo. I am not surprised. The original Sofi and Boo-boo did great things together too!

About Boo-boo’s future……our hope with bottle fed calves is to be able to adopt them onto Mama cows who have had a calf that dies. Russ is pretty successful with what he calls his adoptions. That is what happened with Bob. We fed him in the barn for a couple of months before Freckles had the troubles and lost her own calf. The development of affection between Bob and Freckles has been slow. Imagine birthing a 100 pound calf and a day later having a 150 pound calf ambitiously feeding from you. Freckles was not thrilled. At this point in our calving season, with only five cows left to calve it is not likely that we will need Boo-boo for an adoption. Anything is possible but hopefully things are smooth for the rest. In that case we have a really tender hearted and ambitious friend lined up to take Boo-boo home. She enjoys having bottle fed calves and has the heart to deal with whatever challenges a calf might bring with it. We on the other hand are stretched and stressed, especially this year. Boo-boo is going to have a better year hanging out with Jennifer.

And now for something fairly ridiculous. This shirt is one of the last souvenirs I bought during my year in UWP. It was never a fancy shirt but it was made of beautiful fabric that draped nicely and felt so soft and good. I have never seen another shirt like it. I have worn it with fancy scarves and jewellery and made very good use of it, but not anymore. Now, worn as it is, it sits in my closet waiting for just the right work day. My feeling is that these are the days for this shirt. The wacky sentimental and perhaps nonsensical part of me thinks that if I am striving to keep Boo-boo fed I best have my Up With People shirt on. So multiple times over the last week I have put it on for and taken it off after a feeding, saving it for the next time. It has made me happy.

And thats one of many things that went down on the Bar MW ranch this week, its probably the most lighthearted one. Thanks for sharing it with me.

Liz and Lisa

Yesterday I had the chance to tell you about how it came to be that we have heifers with names like Listen and Support. Today seems to be the day to tell you about how our herd of cows came to be so international.

What do I mean? Well we have a cow named “A”, that’s in honour of a woman from Thailand whose full name is Apiradee. We have “Fredy” in honour of a man from Switzerland. We have “Klaus” in honour of a man from Germany. We have “Louise” in honour of a woman from Denmark. We have “Antonio” in honour of a man from Mexico. We have “Tara” in honour of a woman from Colorado, “Liz” in honour of a woman from Maine, “Lisa” in honour of a woman from Sweden, “Sharon” in honour of a woman from Manitoba and about 40 more names that all arise from real people I know that live in so many different places. “Ernest” from the U.S A. really made us feel amused when we saw that he used a picture of the cow Ernest, with the the clearly visible, as his facebook profile picture!

You might think it weird that female cows get male names. I did too at first. But somehow the bond of friendship just rises above the particulars. Maybe its because of the source of all of these names. All of the people I referred to were a family of sorts, back in 1991, we were all part of a cast of young adults travelling the world and singing, there were more than 100 of us. We were part of “Up With People.” We came from different backgrounds, different religions, different politics. We had a purpose to build bridges of understanding. It was a really cool experience. I lived with 66 host families in 7 countries in one year.

A couple years ago we had a lot of cows whose tags had fallen out through the year and I needed to make them new tags. I put out a request on Facebook for ideas. Liz from Maine said, “how about these tags are all people from our cast?” We needed a lot, like 40 or so, her idea worked. I selected names that were easy to put on a tag, “A” and “Mo” made it for sure, I selected names that reminded me of shared experiences, so “Antonio” made it, even though his name was darn tricky to fit on that tag. Some of the names on the tags could represent many different people in our lives. Names like Lisa and Liz are common and invite us to think about a few special people in our world. Thats why todays post is about Up With People, because as the day wound down both Liz and Lisa had calves, at the same time. Although there is absolutely zero concrete connection to my friends, those names elicit feelings and memories that equal connection. As long as I am not overwhelmed by other stuff I really get excited when I see the Up With People cows and my family have learned their names and are sure to report back when they calve. It has built a lot of connection. So when Russell sent me texts with pictures today I was just so happy to see those calves and know that those cows had that shared experience. Its nothing. It is not connection to reality. But it touches me. Maybe I am weird. The Liz and Lisa connection goes deeper though. Besides representing my travel friends, I have a cousin named Lisa. Her Dad and my Mom were first cousins. Her Mom was named Liz, she lost her Mom quite recently too. It gave me a lot of joy to be able to send her texts and pictures saying “look what just happened!” It just seemed meaningful that Lisa and Liz calved at the same time. The Liz connection is bigger than that though, in a big way. We have had a photographer named Liz documenting the work of ranching for the last year or so. We are completely blessed by her talent and what she has captured of our lives. I have said it before and I will say it here, her photographs have illumined the meaning in the work we do. So our photographer friend Liz also got a text today, because that name Liz will always remind us with such a sense of gratitude what she has captured for us. I also think it is Queen Elizabeth’s birthday. So that is a nice connection to this birth story too.

Here are some pictures relevant to this day and to the story above.

Thats me holding the microphone, in the midst of our Up With People stage show in 1991, I am not sure where we were performing at this point.
Liz Griffin captured this beautiful picture of Ursula and her baby last summer. Ursula is named after a friend from Germany.
One of a few pictures I took of the UWP tags in production. Maren made a really great impression on Russell when they met at a wedding we all attended, I am sure that is why she got the extra heart, to make Russell smile.
The words heard at our lunch table today…..”now I have seen everything.” For a random reason the highchair (my Dads old one, used only for antique type decor really)was at the table. Jill popped Buster in, put a few nibbles on the tray, Buster handled it like a pro.
The cow “Liz” with her baby.
Here is Lisa with her fresh calf.