This is part 2 of On the ranch, going to the circus can be a 'circus' which was published Dec. 29.
After hastily outfitting the boys and my sister for their circus excursion, we loaded everyone into car seats in Rachel’s Duramax and slammed the truck doors. In the peace that followed the taillights and dust of their departure, I walked down to the first-calf heifer pasture to check on the laboring one who had been accused of breaching security.
The sun was sinking fast, but her big gray (and currently horizontal) body was easy to spot against the dark green Chinese privet hedges and numerous dead loblolly pines crisscrossed in what looked like an impenetrable thicket.
Just a few days before, Hurricane Zeta had ripped through leaving hundreds of downed trees at the ranch, many of which were on fences. One fallen pine had created an entryway for this soon-to-be mom to check in to her private labor and delivery room. She had proceeded to carve out what she thought to be ideal birthing quarters amidst a mat of thick undergrowth pierced with storm damage.
When she heard me approach, she raised her head slightly to acknowledge my presence but deemed herself too far along in the process to be bothered with relocating.
Judging by the time Rachel had noted her pacing, I reckoned she was still within a reasonable period for delivery unassisted. All ranchers know that there’s praying your daily prayers, and then there’s praying with such a fervency that you are using every breath to petition the Almighty to intervene with mercy, like the very outcome itself is 100% dependent on your dedication. This was one of those times.
The intermittent grunts of labor were soon followed by the sound of liquid being expelled, a slight thud, and then new lungs attempting to remove fluid from airways for the first time.
I muttered every version of “Thank you, Jesus” that I could think of as I inched toward the new pair to see exactly where the newborn had been deposited.
Thankfully, the calf was not in danger of rolling downward into the gully that Rachel had feared, mainly due to the dense understory. However, there was the issue of the individual’s head being pinned underneath a section of dead pine.
I eased over the fence and slowly picked my way across the fallen timber to get just close enough to remove the log without startling the new mom. Granted, she was still in a bit of shock but sat upright breathing heavily until she realized she had just given birth...and that I was a bit too close to her newborn. A few “new-mom-talks-to-her-calf” grunts later and she was on her feet cleaning her contribution to the world.
I messaged Rachel a dark but discernible photo of the scene.
Gary and J.B. finally enjoy the circus — well, sort of.
“Crazy head,” she responded. “Glad she’s ok. She REALLY wanted her privacy.”
The next morning, on my way to check the privet pair (who were still enjoying their thicket stay), I witnessed the twins’ mama donating some breakfast to the bottle calf. Later that day, Rachel discovered his mom--the previously nearly DOA cow--to be miraculously alive. She brought her in for surveillance: “She’s been on her feet ever since I penned her,” Rachel said. “I think she’s afraid to lie down. Her calf is pretty excited.”
As for the circus venture, “The boys weren’t that impressed,” Rachel said.
I guess a traveling company of acrobats, clowns, and other entertainers are just no match for ranch life.