Baxter Black: The high-horned red cow’s calf
I have calved a lot of heifers in my life…thousands. All of us who have that type of experience know that after the sweat and strain, the slick and sticky, the hope and pull, the grunt and sigh, when the wet little creature plops on the ground, sometimes there is a moment that time stands still. A second, or two or five, we stare, our world suspended, waiting for a sign.
Then the new baby sniffs, or blinks, or sneezes, or wiggles an ear, and at that moment it feels as though a burden has been lifted from our shoulders. We did it. We did it again. Just regular common people like us, engaged in that age-old profession of stockman, have participated in a miracle; life being passed from one generation to the next.
It is no small thing to be a part of and every time it happens, it renews us. The miracle never diminishes. As urbanization inexorably isolates people from the land, fewer and fewer humans are able to participate in this ancient experience. It is our loss.
We have finished calving at my place; none of the cows needed help delivering, for which I’m thankful. But each new little critter trailing after his mama or kickin’ up his heels makes ya smile.
Last week the high-horned red cow finally calved. Baby was solid red like mama. I sat there the next day a’horseback and studied him for a few minutes. Long enough to figure out it was a bull calf and getting’ plenty to eat. Satisfied, I swung away and started back through the mesquite on a cow trail. I heard a mama bawlin’ and looked back to see that it was the high-horned red cow. I swept the horizon for her calf, then looked down. There he was right behind my horse’s hind leg trailin’ along with us. I stopped. The little calf bumped into my stirrup. He looked confused. He could hear his mama but something didn’t smell right. I reached down and patted his head. He looked up at me, as if to say, “What are you doin’ here?”
About that time my dog stuck his nose to the baby’s tail. He jumped like a deer, straight-legged and trotted back toward his mama in his ungainly tryin’-out-his-new-legs, kinda gait. It was pretty funny. The dog and I couldn’t help but laugh.