For one of us, the world awakened in the pitch of night, and welcomed by the ominous sounds of a Choir. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that Bottle Rocket decided to wander to the far end of the pasture to finally give in and give birth.
We had been keeping an eye out on her all day, as she was showing the definite signs of labor – separating herself from the herd; standing splay-legged; pacing to relieve the discomfort. We started watch in the early hours of morning. Through texts from Anita Jo and a delightful surprise visit from Ms. Kat (of Casa Smith-Coushatta fame), we still kept one eye directed to the pasture. With the way Rocket has always had her calves in the past, you were barely aware she was pregnant before she was plopping one on the ground. This waiting was somewhat unusual.
It came to the point where we had to leave in order to cast our vote in the Louisiana Primary. We weren’t nervous, but our thoughts were definitely more on what was happening on the farm than what was going on in Hall Summit. For once, our visiting was warm and polite, but cut short. Surely everything was just fine, but still, we both breathed a quiet sigh of relief when we returned. Still with the pacing.
At feeding time, Rocket came up to the trough, but almost immediately turned around and headed back toward the hay rings. She took a bite or two of dry grass, then wandered away again. What on earth was taking so long? Through the feeding of the cows, cats and chickens; through dinner for the farmers; through an episode of something we never really saw; through cleaning the kitchen. Nothing. Finally, we gave in and headed out to lock everything up. Randy did the chickens. I did the gate and the greenhouse. And as we met in the middle, I decided to walk out in the pasture to do one last check.
The night before, we were entertained by the Coyote Choir, who had set stage somewhere North and behind us. Although more than likely not on our back property, they were definitely closer than we like. We thank God that we haven’t had a problem with them so far, but we have seen them in the pastures. Which is why we usually take a shotgun with us on any patrols or work outings. A new calf and afterbirth is just too much of an invitation for them.
As we set out across the pasture – one small flashlight between us – we caught the faint tune-up of the Choir on the air. Still a good distance, but … As dark as it was, we primarily depended on sound rather than sight. The flashlight was one that could direct a pinpoint beam or create a small spotlight, but still wasn’t enough to see more than four feet out. It was the vibration that first alerted me, followed closely by a few snorts. It seems the flashlight was frightening some of the other cows, and they began moving nervously around us at that foreign blob of light that bobbed across their pasture. And then, two tiny orbs of light reflected in the distance, and the cows began a sure enough war dance – running, jumping, kicking, snorting, bellowing. Carefully, Randy directed the beam on the eyes. And we breathed a sigh of relief. It was just Wilson, wanting to tag along and see what was up.
We kept moving, our steps a bit slower and our ears more alert. The light caught the outline of a huge black blob, and as we moved the flashlight lower, a smaller blob. At the far Northern end of the pasture. Randy’s whispered, “She had it” mingled with the second soprano note of the Choir. Even closer than last night. Not good. Our movement in the pitch dark made Rocket nervous enough that we realized we wouldn’t be able to get close enough to move her and the calf to the barn and safety. But as our hearts began their first step downward, and our minds scrambled on how we could manage to move the two, we turned and caught a beautiful sight. Shadows in the dark indicated that all the other cows had gathered close, in almost a semi-circle, with all eyes watching Mama and the new baby, and ears pitched toward the sounds of the Coyote Choir in the North.
Our hearts settled a bit at that sight. As we walked across the pasture, no moon to light our way, we knew that all was well on Paradise. The Protection detail was wide awake, all senses on high alert. And Heaven help anything that was stupid enough to breach the borders. Bottle Rocket and Baby were well cared for. We knew we could sleep peacefully.
Welcome to the world, little Carmine. Just know that the world isn’t as scary a place as it seems in the light of day.
(Note: Carmine is Italian, and means ‘brave and strength’. I think Anita Jo hit the nail on the head when she suggested this name for the baby. To be born under these conditions, one would have to be very brave and very strong. Thanks, AJ, for the great and most appropriate name!)
* For more photos of Carmine, visit the Photo Page!