There is not, in my opinion,
anything more mysterious in nature than this instinct in animals,
which thus rise above reason,
and yet fall infinitely short of it.
I drive past a snowy white chunky bull calf feeding off his mom. I think about how the cows know exactly what they are doing. Sitting here in the tractor, after finishing feeding the cows and then making sure they have ample access to water, I turn the motor off to sit. Watching and waiting.
It is finally a warm day; ONE degree Celsius and the sun is pushing hard to peek from behind the clouds. It is the perfect day to be born. The red Hereford, one of our more experienced cows, lies on the thick bedding in the middle of the snow covered ground, she is in labour. I try to get comfortable sitting in the tractor knowing she knows exactly what she is doing, hoping it will not be too long but knowing I will not leave. I grab my pen and paper. My years of farming and calving experience has taught me to let her be, but stay where I am, ‘just in case’. Sometimes the ‘just in case’ can happen whether we want it or not. You best respect that.
A couple of the other moms wander over to say “Hello” and check out this moment and to show their support and encouragement, she stands up. I can now see the feet emerging. I know things are going the way they are supposed to by the presentation of the feet. Much like a swimmer diving into the water, the front feet are pointed down and the head is tucked just behind. I smile knowing this is a very good sign, scratching off one of those ‘just in case’ moments. She lies back down and I wait. She knows what she is doing, and I will let her go about something she has done many times before. This requires my patience, and the experience to know when to intervene, or not, by those warning signs that may be presented.
Little snowy white legs, then the head with eyes open, and then the rest of its body slides out quickly. Mom takes about a second to rest, then quickly jumps up and starts cleaning it off. The head of snowy white bobs up and down as Mom licks it off, stimulating and warming the bundle of joy. This is when I exit the tractor, walk over to say “Hello” and make sure all is well. Mom completely ignores me concentrating on the task at hand, bonding with her newborn. The little girl (heifer) calf keeps trying to stand up and falling down; she is in a hurry to get on with her life. She is a very good Mom and she continues cleaning and soothing with soft moos, while paying no mind to what is going on around her.
Other Moms walk over to greet the newest member of the family. I can see that everything is as it should be; I leave her to tend to what she knows by instinct. I will come back later to make sure this little one is feeding off Mom. I start the tractor then head to the house for my breakfast.
It is a beautiful day to be born.