In the midst of Spring heifer calving, my husband headed to camp to gather cattle for several days. I assured him I could handle any difficulties that arose and sent him on his way. The weather was mild, thus I did not need to worry about frozen newborns. The grass was greening up, which helps reduce the need for late night checks. I was confidant it would be an uneventful week.
Life is like that. The moment you become complacent or over-confidant, something arises to shake you up. Monday morning, my kids and I had errands and appointments in town, so I only had time for a cursory check of the heifers. Upon returning that afternoon, I saddled my horse, filled my pockets with eartags, and headed out. Calves frolicked among the heavily pregnant heifers on the feed ground, their mothers registered discomfort with my proximity with a snort and a shake of the head. There were no freshly hatched calves to be tagged, but several heifers were in the early stages of labor and one troublesome Hereford heifer was in serious need of attention.
The boss and I had run her in several days earlier for a cursory obstetrics examination, despite her obvious discomfort we didn’t observe additional signs of labor. We unceremoniously turned her back out with her cohort. Upon gathering her this second time, I found very large calf in an a-typical presentation, obstructing a smaller than desired birth canal. There was little to be done for the calf. However, the heifer could be saved, so I called the vet. With his assistance the calf was delivered and the cow will recover.
It is easy after an experience like this, to begin questioning every decision you make. In the successive days, fifteen additional calves were born healthy, without assistance. I sat quietly on my horse and watched several of them make their entrance into the world. Each time, fighting the urge to herd their mother into the barn and act the midwife for each of them, should some unforeseen difficulty arise. Although, I know more often than not, that nature knows best.
Life is like calving heifers, both experiences are wrought with success and failure, pain and joy. If you do it right the positive outweighs the negative. If it does not, you learn to carefully, cultivate gratitude for that which is good. In the wake of the bombing in Boston, I find it essential to say thank you for all that is good within my life. Thank you, thank you, thank you. My thoughts are with those affected by this thoughtless tragedy.