Monday, February 2, 2009

On the other hand....

Just when it seems like things can't get any worse, well, they get a little better. The other day my family drove to Diamond, MO to check out a tack shop that we hadn't been to before. The prices were great, and the selection was pretty cool. I didn't want to spend any money (because I'm saving it up for some unforeseen emergency, I guess, but also because I'm cheap and don't actually need anything), but my mom finally talked me into spoiling myself and splurging just this once. I bought a gorgeous ESP saddle pad, an amazing orange bronc halter, and a few smaller miscellaneous items. I also got some Cavallo boots for Brandy, since it looks like she's going to be staying barefoot. Overall, I was pretty pleased with my purchase. Heck, I still get a few kicks out of materialism every once in a while. For shame!

I wanted to try out Brandy's new footwear, so I rode her off down the gravel and asphalt roads yesterday. On my way home, I noticed one of the neighbor's cows sniffing something on the ground. I rode closer, trying to figure out what the object was. It was smooth and glistening, red, purple, and wet. I stared stupidly at it and was unable to make a conscious connection until the thing kicked and turned over. I could make out the protrusion of a leg and the outline of the face still covered by the amniotic sac.

I was completely startled and amazed. I spun my horse around and galloped to the neighbor's barn, hoping that she would be home so I could give her the news and she could ensure that the calf escaped the sac quickly and without suffocating. I haven’t a clue what standard protocol is for cattle births, but I figured it was better safe than sorry. She wasn't there, but as I frantically looked around, her in-laws and husband came home, and I was able to relay the information to them. They were grateful, and the husband accompanied me back on his four-wheeler. When we arrived, we saw the mother and a yearling calf gently nudging and sniffing the little wet creature. It had fully emerged by this point, its hair damp and spiky, its oversized ears flopping straight out to the sides of its head. The mother was already possessive, protective, and—dare I say it—loving in her simple bovine way. She stared us down and refused to budge, even though she was obviously frightened by our nearness. She gave a soft moo to her offspring, and the tiny thing responded in its own new, weak voice. It bobbled from side to side as it lifted its head. A five-minute old calf and its mother. How magical. How poetic!

The baby was standing and nursing within an hour, healthy but still weak and incredibly unsteady on its feet. The poor thing was still wet and shivering convulsively in the cold evening air. Welcome to the world!

As for Shorty, the blood work results should come back tomorrow. The vet (who, incidentally is also the neighbor and cow owner) didn't realize it was a multi-step, two-day process, and then the weekend messed us up. At least Shorty is feeling much better—his fever is gone, and he has 90% of his appetite back. The vet's "best guess" right now is Equine Herpes Virus, though of course leukemia is still a possibility. And who knows what else it could be. But at least for the time being the horse is comfortable and happy. We’re just taking it one day at a time. What more can anyone do?

Even in the midst of stressful, sorrowful times, life still goes on. Shorty fell ill, the mice and the meadowlark died, and a brand new calf was born in the next door pasture.

This day has ended.
It is closing upon us even as the water-lily upon its own tomorrow.
What was given us here we shall keep,
And if it suffices not, then again must we come together and together stretch our hands unto the giver.
Forget not that I shall come back to you.
A little while, and my longing shall gather dust and foam for another body.
A little while, a moment of rest upon the wind, and another woman shall bear me.

--Kahlil Gibran

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