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Babies (Part 1)

I put my muck boots on and wander outdoors with new purpose. Winter, a time to endure, finally gives birth to bright green shards of grass pushing through composted straw in search of light. Cardinal songs in the hedgerows and red-winged blackbirds call from the pond-side bulrushes. My purpose is to bask in the long awaited rhythms of spring, experience once more, the rich mud smells that promise alfalfa, clover fescue and brome. Festus walks briskly along side, stopping to mark his territory on random cow pies.

Mud quickly forms a second pair of heavy boots as I trod along the tractor rutted path. I see the girls in the distance, dotting the hillsides. Those cud-chewing bovine baby-makers don't mind the mud today. Festus stops to purge a lump of rib bones and bunny fur; reminding me this sweet gentle working pup works all night, practicing the hunt, and the aggressive part of his job on the farm; to keep critters away.

Soon the draws will have lone mommas in their bottoms, standing in anticipation for birth. They recluse and withdraw, hormonal instincts separate them from the herd and they find their "nest"; often a thicket of brush here they will hide the baby and get some peace and quiet after the birth. A good mom will settle in away from a creek or a cliff which often presents danger for the calf and makes more work for us if we have to rescue one.

Spring rains hinder our smooth deliveries as do the cold temperatures. Rainy and 40 degrees can be "deadly" the cowboy says. Recalling a spring where I dragged a hypothermic baby through a creek and up a hillside to shelter while the hormonal mamma sought to kill me the entire time, reminds me that "deadly" means more than just fearing for the baby's life. It's risky to engage with a momma. She's large and she's protective. I've learned to navigate my walks looking for babies and keeping track of each tree in the vicinity. Hiding behind trees while checking babies is similar to being in a bull fight wearing read pajamas. Our cattle don't get to stay if they are aggressive (like the cow who jumped into the back of the pickup). Our vet tells a story of a guy who died when a cow came right into the cab!

Today, all is calm, and quiet with the girls. David says nothing looks "ready" today, but that is a whole other post to write. Tomorrow I go out again on the trusty Honda 4 wheeler. I'm thankful for my 4x4 and a good dog and the scraper thingy beside the door that scrapes the mud. It's an exciting time; rebirth and regrowth in nature and somehow it feels like I have a fresh new beginning as well. I'll keep you posted when I have a real baby to boast about, after all there should be 60 on the way!

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