Lost in Mongolia

In the sandy distance, I saw Oliver crouched down next to, what looked like, a dog. As I approached, I saw the lone, baby cow. It was shaking and weak and sniffing the air for milk and familiarity. Somehow, the babe had lost its way and became separated from its herd. Slowly, it wobbled over to each of our bikes, searching for an udder and the possibility of staying alive. Alone on the steppe, this little cows fate would be the same as numerous animals we found sunken, and half eaten on the side of the road.

The babe smacked its lips and nuzzled its wet nose into our panniers. It could barely stand either from its youth or hunger. Having no udder, or means of helping the little thing, we painfully accepted its fate and decided we should just keep moving. But I couldn’t. Oliver, Claudia and Jeremy cycled on and I dismounted my bike and walked slowly away. “How can I just leave it there to die?” With my heart so heavy, I turned back to see the little babe one more time. There she was a couple steps behind me, stumbling along. I stopped and she stopped. I moved and she followed. “Come on little one!” I pleaded. “Just a bit further.”

Up ahead, Oliver, Claudia and Jerry had stopped. I thought they were just waiting for me to catch up. And then I saw them. A big herd of cows just on the other side of the road grazed and munched on grass. “Let’s try it.” We all decided. Jerry, scooped up the calf and carried it over the sandy road that scared the babe so much that it lost its herd because of it. We stood back to watch as the calf approached a cow. It nocked her away with its big head. “You’re not mine, get away!” It seemed to say. Heartbroken and heavy we looked at each other with eyes of resignation. “It was a good effort.”

From a distance, a cow peeped its head up and started charging our way. It’s eyes were locked on the calf. We watched as it tried its luck once more on the new cow’s udder and she accepted. She licked her baby and walked off with the little one at her heels. Claudia and I stood and cried at the beauty of reunion and a death sentence being overturned.

We are quick to give up, us humans. We’re quick to wash our hands and say, “well, nothing can be done.” accepting our fates and the fate of others. As I stood, in a bovine dream with tear stained cheeks I unlearned this truth– sometimes, something can be done. Sometimes, it’s worth it to just try.