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As I watched the last calf of our season stumble to his feet, I was reminded of the strong instincts that animals have to survive. He was still wet and shivering a little from the cool wind and searching and learning to nurse from the mama cow.

Colonel Flag was the last of the 19 calves born to our herd this spring. We followed the MASH theme for names this year and this little bull calf received his name because he was so elusive.

We were beginning to wonder if Twilight, his mom, was ever going to have her calf. Almost a full month after number 18, Igor, who had to be pulled by the vet because he came into the world backwards.

This has been a long calving season, stretching from the beginning of February to June, with every weather challenge that Mother Nature could throw at us. But through the two-a-day trips to the farm and the long work days, my instinct has been to keep putting one foot in front of the other. To keep going no matter how tired I am because the reward is greater than the struggle.

“Always, always trust your first gut instincts. If you feel something is wrong, it usually is.” (words for women)

My dad taught me that when I was young and I have a friend that reminds me often.

A couple of weeks ago, my son chose to give his rabbit away. Emma had been with us for two years and Luke was only remembering to care for her water and food needs about half of the time. She was in desperate need of brushing and nail trimming, none of which did I have time for during the last couple of months.

We had heard of a young girl that had her rabbit stolen and Luke decided to gift Emma to her because he “wanted Emma to have a better life.”

Turns out that giving a pet away at 11-years-old is hard stuff. But after he hugged her, had their last pictures together and he cried a bit, he packed her in the cage and sent her off to her new home.

His instinct was to care for Emma even though he wouldn’t be the one doing it. The reward was greater than the struggle.

It was so hard to watch him say good-bye to his pet, but I hope that I’ve taught him to begin to trust his instincts or at least he has learned a valuable lesson from this experience.

Sometimes learned behavior and instinct looks a lot alike.

For example, my husband has an instinct about used cars. I recognize it as a skill.

He can spend hours searching through for sale ads and photos until he is finally ready to test drive a vehicle. He will narrow it down from that point and is never afraid to walk away from a prospect if his instinct tells him to keep looking.

I’m not that patient and my learned behavior has taught me that if it doesn’t have 50 air fresheners tied to the mirror, oil leaking and meets my current need, then it’s probably okay.

I appreciate my husband’s perseverance in fixing the little problems once we purchase a vehicle too. He’s never satisfied until it works exactly right.

What I didn’t find necessary, however, is when we purchased our latest vehicle and he instinctively told me that I was “under no circumstances” allowed to haul baby calves in the back of the Yukon.

“Then what is that space for,” I asked.

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