Sidi J. Mahtrow

Ballad Of Old Red - Poem by Sidi J. Mahtrow

Let me tell you the story of Ol' Red
The finest brindle ev'r bred
‘Bout one taking th' best
An' the Dev'l having the rest.

Old was Red before her time
Born in the sunny springtime
Carefully kept away from harm
Until she'd the system learned.

One of many dropped in the field that day
Where the dairy kept them as a place to stay
Gave them a good start while mamma
Recovered from birthing's trauma.

When Pete rode the field that day
He knew this was a calf that would have to stay
Stay with her mother for a day or two
Until she had the strength to go.

Spotted this red touched with white
A heifer that had a mighty plight
For he guessed that she, somehow
Had been stepped on by the mother cow.

Her left shoulder was shattered, crushed beyond repair
Yet somehow, she and her mother found no need for despair
But in a way known only to Old Red
She found another way to get up and stand instead

Moving was difficult to be sure
For that lone right leg had to endure
The weight and balance to provide
Her a way to gain her mother's side.

Pete decided to leave them in the pasture for a couple of days
Hoping that something would come along to ease their pains
But finally Old Red had to make the journey
To the sales barn to be exchanged for money.

At the auction which went right along
Each calf being brought in, in a 'boy's' arm.
Place before Pete supported by his cane
To be sold to the highest bidder in the ring.

A good many calves were sold that day
And buyers claimed theirs and drove away
Until at last only Pete and I were there.
I always stopped for a story to share.

He said, 'I've got one more.' That was a surprise,
For there were no more bidders to cast their eyes.
Got stepped on by her mom, I guess,
And crushed her shoulder; what a mess.'

The boy brought in this red one, that seemed alright
Until she was stood upright,
Then it was plain for all to see
That instead of four good legs, she had only three.

Hobbled around Pete and the ring
Careful not to put the left foot down it seemed.
'How much' Pete asked for this newly arrived,
Then answered his own question, 'Five? '

'Sure.' was my answer loud and clear
Because this one was something dear.
Dear to Pete who wanted the calf to have a home
Otherwise, to the renderer, she'd be gone.

(I know he would have given me
The calf if I wanted,
But, that's not the way
One deals with a friend
After all. It's only money.)

At any rate, as times go fast,
Was decided to close down the veal operation at last.
The remaining 'tail-enders' couldn't be sold
Nor could 'Old Red' as the story's told.

To a farm in Tennessee
That's where they all went to be.
And those scrawny or otherwise not so good
Calves grew until they entered motherhood.

And Old Red like the others did as cows do
And produced calves, in fact quite a few.
But somehow her's always stood out as the best
Maybe she indeed was blessed.

Then one day the time came again
When was time to move and sell all of them.

The buyer looked over the lot
And when it came to Old Red, he didn't stop
But paid just as much for her as the rest
Because it was obvious that she was one of the best.

Don't know what happened to Pete or Old Red
But believe that they have a special place now instead
A reward to those who do the best they can do
And let the Devil take the hindmost too.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, June 28, 2009

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