So, This is Spring?

This is spring is it? Sure, I guess we’ve had a couple of days where there was melting, but as I write it’s -11 with snow fluttering past my window. However impossible it looks right now though, there’s always hope in the rebirth of spring.

Here on the farm calves have been coming thick and fast, which, despite the usual ups and downs, is at least one good sign. Most have been arriving safely, but a set of twins were lost during blizzard-like conditions when their mother decided to trail off into the snow to deliver them. Another was born prematurely, with pneumonia to boot! My brother Bill gave it medicine, got the mother secured in a head gate and milked her, despite repeated kicking (by the cow, not Bill) to ensure the calf would get that important first milk: colostrum.

Back in my manure hauling days (ahh yes, I can smell it all now) I often witnessed animals giving birth. As soon as fields were dry, and cattle out of their pens, we began driving the heavy trucks used to clear corrals. It was a good time of year. As I rolled slowly along, slinging muck, I’d watch for the first hint of green to appear in poplars that lined most fields and, because of my farming background, I’d keep an eye peeled for animals in distress.

On this particular day we were working for a couple who owned a number of valuable horses. Although I wasn’t close to the herd, in the distance I could see one mare lying down flat and figured, by her actions, she was foaling. Oddly though, next time out to the field she was upright with no foal. Then, on my third trip she was down once more. This was over the course of an hour and I knew something was wrong. I radioed my boss to get help.

“What?” he said disbelievingly, as I relayed my concerns. “Do you know ANYTHING about horses? I’m not bothering these people with some false alarm. Leave it alone Helen, it’s not your business!”

Nonetheless, I insisted, and finally he agreed to call. Presently a half ton made its way across the bumpy stubble field and into the horse pasture through a gate. Then it roared back to the farmyard and returned pulling a stock trailer. It wasn’t until next morning, as we walked to the crew truck for lunch that I heard what had happened. The owner pulled up in a cloud of dust, strode over to me and reached out to wring my hand.

“Thank you so much,” he said with emotion. “If it weren’t for you, one of our best mares would have died yesterday. The foal was breech (turned wrong way round) and had long been dead, but no one knew since she wasn’t due to foal. Our vet said he was amazed the mare lived as long as she did.”

He pushed several $20s into my palm, and although I protested, the man turned with a grateful smile and left.

“Well,” said my boss with a short harrumph as we clambered into the truck, “guess you must know something after all.”

As I said, there’s hope for many things in the rebirth of spring. Even grudging appreciation from your boss. Hang in there.

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