The temperatures dipped low last night and this morning we were greeted with frost.The predawn was crystal clear with a sky dotted with lingering stars and a sliver of moon still showing on the western horizon.Warm and comfy in the nook where we drink our morning coffee my mind was on the heifers that are calving.
We dressed early and with the eastern sky only beginning to show a faint transition to the pinkish-orange of a late fall sunrise we left the house.First time heifers are not always the best mothers.It seems that though they have lots of instinct they are short on experience.It takes them longer to know what to do to take care of that newborn calf.
Any calves born last night or at dawn when the temperature drops to it lowest could be in danger of hypothermia if that new mother does not clean it off and stimulate it to get it up and nurse.
We chose to take the pick up truck just in case we had need of its heater.It can work as a perfect incubator to pick a cold calf in the floorboard and turn the heater up until it warms.
As we rounded the top of a hill, we observed a heifer apart from the rest of the herd and standing over something on the ground.Moving cautiously so as not to disturb her we got closer to the sight.The new mother stood her ground but watched us closely as we approached.
The heifers are so very gentle and are used to us walking through them.There in the shelter of a large oak lay a calf so new that it was still wet from the amniotic fluid.
The newborn was curled in a ball and the moist heat of its body rose like steam in the dawn of the late fall morning. This new mother had done a good job of cleaning the placenta from the calf and licking it to stimulate it.
Knowing the calf was fine we backed off and watched from the truck with the rest of our coffee. It has never ceased to thrill me to see birth of new life.The frosty morning made it magical. We stayed long enough to see the new calf take its first wobbly steps and nurse its mother.
We returned to the house to fix breakfast with a feeling that all is well in the world.