28th February 2014
Pockets of hope
“I don’t know much about cattle, but I don’t think this little one should be out here all alone” said the kindly wildlife rescuer down the phone late Thursday night. And neither did we. Having spent several days traipsing across the fire grounds of Darraweit Guim, one of the worst affected areas in the recent bushfires that razed much of our community, a kindly wildlife rescuer and her fellow volunteer came across a lone black calf. Given the late hour and unlikely chance of finding his mother, if she even remained, we requested the rescuer check back in with us the next day when she returned to the area. Praying all the while the cheeky little one had simply wandered off and would have hooked back up with his anxious mother by then. But sadly that would not be the case.
We were to later learn that the calf we aptly christened ‘Ash’, barely a few weeks old, had seen his mother and fellow buddies transported away the preceding Tuesday, but somehow the inquisitive little Ash missed the boat, or rather truck. Travelling through the blackened area to find Ash we encountered some of the most heart wrenching sights; blackened barren and windswept land, fire ravaged fences stoically trying to do their job but failing, burnt out facades of once majestic gumtrees with those that had teetered dangerously now safely felled and dotting the roadside, but so few signs of life, save the kangaroos hopping gingerly on scorched and infected feet. Yet every now and then tiny pockets of hope. Houses that had been miraculously saved by our incredible and tireless CFA and determined property owners who refused to give in, sitting pretty and safe but grimly surrounded by a farm that once was.
It was with little trouble that Ash was reined in as he meandered into a dry creek bed, a place he no doubt had returned many a time in the preceding days desperately looking for a mother he would never see again. We could imagine with each passing hour his anxiety would heighten, yet his strength would weaken, until he reached the dehydrated and sorry state in which he was found. Bundling him into the back of the wildlife rescuers vehicle, Ash’s vital signs were checked while we desperately sought out our phones to place the emergency call to our vet with the words “incoming, calf critical”. Fluids administered along with a sigh of slight relief as Ash took to the bottle of life sustaining sweet warm milk.
Just one day on the little mite is somewhat brighter, as a little pocket of hope grows and we pray he will pull through. Aided my medications to address his systemic infection and all the TLC we can muster in our sleep deprived state, it is going to take a miracle for this little one to pull through. But miracles do happen, we see them every day, miracles of hope that sit deep within us all, coming to the fore to aid our brethren, both human and non-human, at times of need. Through Ash’s story and the many that are emerging in the tragic wake of the bushfires we pay tribute to the countless volunteers who are so selflessly working to make the world a better, kinder place for all beings – we thank you for you are our little pockets of hope.
A special thanks to wildlife rescuers Leanne and Terry for their assistance and caring.