Originally posted 3/15/2015
Spring is a time of perpetual renewal. The grounds thaws, the trees bloom. I have always been fond of spring, because it brings the sun closer to the Earth, and with it, the reprieve from the darkness, cold, and duration of winter. With Easter right around the corner, and calving in full swing, it is hard not to stop and appreciate the goodness of God and be thankful for the blessing of the new season.
I was reminded today just how fleeting life can be; how it only takes a moment, a single decision, to end up with life or death. It never ceases to amaze me when livestock give birth to their young; it is truly quite a process. Lets stick with cows, since they seem to be my favorite thing to talk and/or photograph lately. Within minutes of dropping an 85 pound pile of slop and bones and hair to the ground, the old girl has her calf cleaned off, up, walking, and possibly even suckling, if she is lucky. Most have no problems or complications at all; it is all business and those are the cows that tend to be the best mothers, too.
Then there are the cows, just like human women, whom struggle during the birthing process. The reality is that just like with human babies, there is so much that can go wrong- calves getting hip-locked; dystocia- backwards calves, one leg sucked back; the list of ways a calf can present can go on and on; calves that are just too big to fit through the birth canal. Like any good OB team, ranchers are keen to what is going on with their patients. Sometimes, like today, we were able to help one out when the going got tough. It is a pretty awesome moment when your children finally get to see where a baby comes from, and when you realize how much this moment has changed you. Other times, you give it all you’ve got only to have a stillborn on the end of the chain. It is frustrating and disheartening when that happens; especially when you walk out in the corrals just in time to be too late. Life happens- or doesn’t, in some cases- the thing to remember is that there is no better sound than when a baby takes it’s first breath of air; whether a newborn child that the doctor slaps on the back to move things along, or a slimy little red calf that you just got done sticking pieces of straw up his nose to clear out the gunk. Just like spring, that first breath of air is a new beginning; the promise of hope and optimism. Don’t ever take it for granted. Because human or bovine or otherwise, birth and death are miracles and mysteries that we will never be able to control in their entirety. To all my friends checking your cow’s hindquarters day after day for signs of emerging life, don’t forget to stop and be thankful for the season. Just like spring, calving too shall be over quickly. I hope it goes well for you all; may your herd grow larger by the day and your hearts full of pride for a job well done.
Til the next time,