July 15, 2010
Dusk has come and the sun is quickly fading. We are heading out of the front gate when the neighbor flags us down.
“Your cow had a baby!” she shouts.
Excitement floods the car and we speed through the neighbors’ gate to their back pasture. Time is not on our side as the sun fades to black. We use the truck headlights to search the field. Finally we spot the cows…three of them. Amazing. Jenny had been spotted not 2 hours ago, with no baby in tow. Now she has a beautiful, fuzzy, stumbling calf beside her.
Andy climbs in the truck bed with the camera switched to the night time setting. I navigate the rough terrain, trying to keep a safe distance. Andy takes lots of pictures, but they are impossible to make out since we are maintaining a wide berth. We make the decision to come back in the morning for a better view.
July 16, 2010
I hunker down in the seat, demanding that everyone stay silent. I gently remove the cap from the long-range lens on the camera and wait for the perfect shot. From the outside, I probably resemble some random paparazzi awaiting his next big break. But my assignment is much more brutal than some celebrity lunching in Beverly Hills.
I am stalking a baby cow.
Laugh if you must, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. The heavy rains have lengthened the grass and the brush easily hides a newborn calf taking a nap. Not to mention the body guards thwarting my every move. The two mommas take turns blocking the fuzz-ball from outsiders. Jenny is the birth mother, and she has become gentler since she calved, as if she wants me to see the baby… share the fruits of her labor. Clara on the other hand, is still pregnant and ferocious in her possessiveness. She can only be wooed away with a bag of bread, her appetite apparently more aggressive than her concern.
So we wait, under the gigantic canopy of a pecan tree in the scorching heat. Camera trained on the orange patch of grass just beyond Clara’s hovering hooves, I refuse to leave without a portrait of the newest addition. The baby must feel me staring, because he/she randomly peaks at me over the blades of grass.
I get a few good pictures, but am still unable to tell if I have a new boy or girl in the herd.
July 19, 2010
Of course she had to calve when we finally get a two-day break. We take the break, torn about leaving the cows. We return refreshed and see the cows near the stock tank. Andy sets the camera to work and begins snapping pics, hoping that one might come out well. The growing herd comes a little closer, but still keeps the baby from prying eyes.
July 20, 2010
I drive the truck to the back pasture, determined to find out the sex of the baby. And to see if Clara has had her calf, ’cause she looks like she’s haulin’ eight gallons of milk in that udder. Clara spots us first and happily sloshes toward the truck. She must be looking for bread. Jenny looks up to follow Clara’s exit and sees us waiting. I say the words in a normal voice, from across the pasture.
“I really need to see that baby, Jenny.”
She stares at me for a moment and gently pushes the calf toward me.
“They’re coming!” the boys yell.
Jenny attempts to usher the little one closer, but the munchkin decides a drink is in order when they come to about seventy-five feet away. Jenny gives a look that says, I tried, and then stands perfectly still so the baby can feed and I can snap the prized pictures.
It’s a girl! (Yes, if you read this before I changed it, it used to say boy. I will blog about my humiliation later.)
A cute and cuddly calf that will grow into well over 1,000 pounds of attitude, given her parentage.
I’m thinking we might want our five-strand barbwire fence to become a seven-strand bard wire fence….