“My Prayer in a Stockyard,” Ensign, Mar. 2009, 71–72
Because of a drought, my husband, John, and I had to either sell our beef cattle at a loss or move them from the Melba Valley, in southwestern Idaho, USA. Fortunately, John found summer range at a cousin’s family farm, located in the Preston area, about 300 miles (480 km) away.
We arranged for a trucker to take all 40 cattle in one load, but he didn’t like the looks of a rough ranch road that led to the cattle pasture, still 20 miles (32 km) away. To our disappointment, he unloaded them at nearby stockyards. There we were, late in the day with 40 head of cattle to transport and no way to do it.
John stopped a local farmer, explained our plight, and asked for help. Minutes later Bishop Steve Meeks and his young son followed us to the stockyards to see what could be done.
The cattle had become unsettled. Seeing a broken section of fence at the stockyard, they ran toward it, seeking freedom. All the cattle hurdled the fence into another enclosure—except for one cow. She managed to get most of the way over, but one hind leg slipped between two fence planks. She ended up hanging precariously on the fence, one front foot barely touching the ground. She kicked her other hind leg furiously in an effort to free herself.
Releasing the cow would require hoisting equipment. If she broke a leg, we would have to put her down. To lose a cow would put considerable financial strain on us.
The cow weighed more than 1,000 pounds (455 kg), and we could not get near her, nor help her if we did. The havoc on the fence made the rest of the cattle nervous.
I didn’t think there was anything we could do, but at that moment I remembered Amulek’s counsel in the Book of Mormon: “Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks” (Alma 34:20). I withdrew myself from the others, knelt down, and prayed with all the sincerity of my heart. Concluding my supplication, I pleaded, “Heavenly Father, please help the cow.”
I returned to the corral, the prayer still lingering on my lips. By now the cattle had quieted somewhat, including the one on the fence.
Suddenly, the largest of the milling animals broke away from the herd. Resisting our efforts to turn her back, she moved toward the dangling cow. Lowering her head, she dropped to her knees, forced her way under the stranded cow, and staggered slowly to her feet. She lifted the tangled cow into the air and then lowered her. The cow was free! A hoist could not have done as well.
As the two cows ran back to the herd, Bishop Meeks stared in disbelief at what he had just witnessed. My tears flowed as I whispered, “Thank You, Heavenly Father.”
Anyone who knows cattle will tell you that cows do not reason things out in their minds. But there is an explanation for this incident. Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. He answered mine—at a stockyard in Preston, Idaho.