Archive for Thursday, April 10, 2008

Springtime means new life

April 10, 2008

Not always are blossoming flowers or trees spring's only beauties or surprises, as I found out last week.

Either way, all that is new come springtime is worth the wait, including newborn calves.

After nearly 30 years in veterinary medicine, and treating many, I decided I was finally ready to start a small cowherd. When our three gals were delivered near Christmas, my wife, Lea, announced that I need not buy her one more present this year. She thought they were beautiful. I knew then God must have had a hand in my choice of a bride.

The good fellow I bought these bred heifers from guaranteed they were pregnant and were due to calve about March 1. So we fed and chored and patiently watched day to day as they got bigger and bigger or really just wider and wider.

On or about March 1, we got very eager, checking our brood three or even four times a day. They looked back at us, chewed their cud with a "when do we get more grain" look. The first week of March came and went with no calves.

Our vigil stretched on to the middle of the month as we began to wonder if their past owner added wrong or did not know how long cows stayed pregnant. But I knew full well in this business nature and God rule.

Last Thursday, after I unloaded our gals' supper in the grain bins, I caught a glimpse of something unusual. Two of the three heifers were standing on the edge of a nearby ravine. One had fresh blood tinged tissue hanging from her rear.

Look what we have here, I thought, as the two who thought they were being fed left to reveal a velvety black form curled up on the ground. From the newborn's mouth, I could see the white bubbles of the first suckle of colostrum or antibody rich milk that guarantees immunity for this calf's first few weeks of life.

I flipped my cell phone open to call Lea at the house. She scrambled down to see the newly arrived heifer.

We stood, peering over the fence at yet another of God's awesome creations. It was well worth the wait.

The story gets better if more perilous and trying.

After church and our noon meal Sunday, I decided to go out back in pursuit of either hedge posts for fencing or some oak firewood in the woods. Settling on an oak, I cut a truckload and headed back up to the barn. As I neared the cow lot, I saw one of the cows had broken her water and began to labor. I pulled up a chair with Mini the dog and started to watch as she grunted and pushed.

After a few moments of unsuccessful pushes, I drove to the house to fetch my "calf jack," or chains, a bucket, water and soap (lots of soap). I also called my neighbor to help me rope her and hold her to a tree so I could help her deliver the calf. Well, we got that rope around her, but she had designs on another delivery avenue. With one gazelle-like move she cleared our north fence and sprinted into our neighbor's 20 acre lot. I mumbled a few choice words under my breath before we took off in hot pursuit. Time was at risk here as that calf had only a short while to be born.

After calling in yet another neighbor and three laps around the pasture, all three of us held tightly to her rope, felling her after tying her to a brush hog nearby. I fastened the chains to the calf's legs and hooked up the calf jack and soon pulled the newborn bull calf out to the light of day Alive and kicking, this calf was worth the hard work to get him here. Once again, it was a beautiful velvety black calf.

We were two for two. I called Lea, who had taken the kids to the local mall and missed this birth also. This evening we struggled, but we were successful in getting mother and son back home to the lot.

As we wait now for the final heifer to calve, I have arrived at a deep appreciation for some of my former clientele who calved many more than our meager few. For years past, even in my own family, this passage of season has been a way of life. This ushering in of animal life is certainly worth the wait, as are those beautiful daffodils and tulips popping out in lawns about us. After a long cold winter, I am warmed by the arrival of this new life.

Take time today to take a drive through the country to see all these new arrivals to the prairie lands of Kansas, which we call our home.


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