Wednesday, November 14, 2007

New addition to the family . . .

Wow, what a weekend, and it's just now over! Not only did I finish my Novel in 90 Days class, it was my little sister's birthday *hooray Sher Bear!* and *drum roll* we had a new family member! Okay, so I know we have other calves, but this little *snort--she weighs almost 70 pounds* came to us the hard way. R was out hunting outside of Fredericksburg, and was washing up after working on one of the fencelines when the neighbor rancher knocked on the cabin door to inform him that one of our cows was having trouble. R went out to check on her, and sure enough, she was having a terrible time--like the calf was too big for her. She'd heave and push and she looked so exhausted--no telling how long she'd been at it, and each time she'd push, R could see the hooves and long, oddly pale legs of a calf.

Odd, because we have black Angus. Black Angus are not born blond. Not knowing how long Marian Anderson (named for a kick-butt, trail blazing opera singer) had been in labor, R stood ready to assist, trying to let nature take it's sometimes brutal course.

But after pulling, pushing, petting, coaxing and reassuring Marian for two hours, the cow simply sat down with the calf partially emerged. She was just plain tired. So, being the good guy R is, he rolled up his sleeves, put on his leather gloves and set out to help her, all the while knowing that both cow and calf were in mortal danger. At one point, he could see the calf's nose, but the contraction would stop and the nose would slide back in. Finally, R reached in around those long forelegs and worked with the head until the head popped out . . . almost white. But Marian couldn't push any more, and calf's tongue began to swell, her eyes never moved, and he worried that she was dead and that Mama cow was next.

So, he pulled harder on the long forelegs, and a half an hour later, he had half her body out, and miracle of miracles, the calf blinked at him, and beneath his hands, her little heart began to beat. Worried he was pulling too hard on her forelegs, he finally reached in, trying to get ahold of
the calf's hind end to push her out. But that sent Mama into more contractions, and, the calf was too long to reach her behind.

He'd been coaxing and coaching for more than four hours at that point and the calf was having real trouble, so more drastic measures were needed. That's right. A little tough love. And like at least one personal trainer I've had, R gave Mama a shove, trying to get her to her feet, all the while gripping Baby Cow around the rib cage, holding tight against the 2,000-pound pull of Mama as she struggled to her feet. And just like that, five hours into the adventure, we had a brand new, caramel colored calf.

We went to go get R's dad to come admire *and wonder* over this pale new stranger among our herd. She's just beautiful, with curly blond hair and a regal pointed nose. I cuddled her and scratched beneath her chin, and just like Tahoe *HRH The First Dog* she leaned into the scritching and moaned.

She's as big as her cousin, a two-month old black Angus. She's still wobbly and very skinny, but she's alive and that's enough. And btw, her name is Butterscotch because of her beautiful creamy color. And, because of that beautiful creamy color, we are fairly certain we've had a visitor in the pea patch as my grandpa use to say when it was obvious we'd had a mutt in with the hunting dogs.

We think she's half Charolais, a huge, huge cream colored kind of bovine that came to the states from France. This particular Charolais, however, came from the neighboring ranch. We have four more cow about to drop calves, so it should be interesting to see what color they turn out to be :)

And so, we're going out to check on her this weekend. Hopefully, the rest of the heifers were loyal to their Angus bull. But if not, I'd settle for more butterscotch. After all, I'm told they're cheaper by the dozen . . .

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Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing

Barnes & Noble Round Rock Signing
My friend Pantera with Tahoe & Me

Tahoe and a new friend at the signing