Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Number Four

She is calf number four, a sweet blue black heifer, who could have had a much more tragic entry into the world than she did.  Check out part of her story at Strawberry Roan...

We had a much different day planned than what we started with this past Sunday.  Thankfully God was leading the way or instead of ending in joy it could have been tragic.

We have Highland Cows which can sometimes drive my loving husband to fits!  Mostly because they look much alike - either shaggy black or shaggy red.  I think they are all unique with their horns, faces and the like but him not so much.

But to step back a few paces - it was a later than I would have liked start to the day.  Our dear neighbor (bless him!) came to put out some hay bales.  He almost didn't see her!  She was tucked into the bedding pile. Alone.  Not one other cow around.  Not even in sight.  No one.  Was she alive? Yes!

When he came to the house I was so surprised...a calf.  By herself.  That was unlike my cows, but with heifers having their first babies it isn't unheard of.

So...no breakfast, no devotionals, no coffee...the duty of a steward comes first.  We bundled up and dashed out.  Sure enough she was okay.  Very new.  Very small. So lovely.

I covered her up from the chill wind, and the snow pellets flew around us.  Earl took our cattle dog Feathers to walk out and bring the cows up.  We had to find her mama!  

Waiting in the wind with a shivering calf and a very pregnant mama cat who strangely wanted to mother this baby had me thinking, praying and wondering about this life we live!  Mi vida loca...indeed!

Through the trees I see cows coming and I wonder - who is the heifer's mama?  Which one?  No one looked that close the day before but cows can fool you!  I see them coming up, walking slowly, and I foolishly think we are almost done out here!

It took almost another hour and the the help of our dogs, many prayers and finally a little moo of recognition from this hours old baby.   She knew her Mama, even if her Mama wasn't sure about knowing her.  So now that we've got them matched up, can she suck?

Not wanting to gamble I run in to mix up some first milk, colostrum, for her, and dash back out.  I catch her and try to get her to suck on this fake rubber nipple.  She wanted NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!  That is a good sign for us cattle folks!  It means she has sucked, and now to get her Mama to let her do that again.

In the usual butt up and head down, calf between my legs position, holding a bottle urging this baby to please give me a break.  I feel a soft snuffly breath on my cheek.  Slowly, S-L-O-W-L-Y I looked up.  Horns, hair and a concerned mooo...and the calf replies.  I let go and stand up, slowly.  She teeters over, gets a little lick on the face and finds her true and proper meal.  Her tail wags and her Mama nuzzles her.

Prayers of thanks go up as cow's milk drops down into the calf's stomach.  Prayers of thanks go up as the snow pellets fall down in a grey spring sky.  Prayers of thanks go up.

Over coffee, and whilst spying from the house with binoculars, I'm amazed at how this heifer has become so mothering so fast.  Instinct is amazing, it is a miracle.  So is Rio.

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