Friday, March 4, 2011

Bright New Day

It was 20 above, clear & bright, with an inch of new snow when I headed out on the 4-wheeler for the first check of the heavies this morning.  I was especially eager to check on a calf born late yesterday afternoon.

He'd been lying on a bare ridge-top with a nice cushion of dry grass and the weather was still above freezing at dark.  I elected not to sled him into the shed for the night, prefering not to upset the bond that was developing with his mother - a two-year-old who was caring for her first calf.

They were fine in the morning.  It's amazing the weather a calf can stand if his coat is dry and his belly is full.

The whole scenario of a new-born calf, continues to amaze me.  After living 9 months in a dark and warm environment, that calf is suddenly thrust out into the cold and the light.  Within an hour he is up on wobbly legs searching for a teat - a miracle that is repeated thousands of times every day. 

How can that calf survive the drop in temperature?  How can he figure out how to stand?  How can he know where to look for an udder?

A human baby is helpless when born - entirely at the mercy of his caregivers.  It is weeks before he can move himself, and months before he can walk.  Yet a calf is on his feet in minutes, and can outrun a predator within days.  He can find his mother among a thousand other cows, and trail along with her for miles.

Of course not every calf slides right out and jumps right up, and not every mother is attententive. And so for two months in the spring a cowboy maintains his vigil, intervening only occasionaly to give Nature a nudge.

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