Sunday, August 15, 2010

Life - Full Circle in One Paddock

On our way home yesterday; with all the kids packed neatly in the car; we noticed a paddock of cows and what looked like brand new calves, merrily skipping and frolicking on the emerald green grass, Awww. So we stopped for a while to watch them play. They were an unknown breed of mostly brown adults and on the rise of the hill were 2 amazingly glowing white day old babies chasing each other around. The more we looked the more we noticed other events taking place in the paddock. Not far over to our left a mother gently licked a brand, brand new baby. So new that it was still wet from birth and hadn't even taken it's first steps. It so amazing to see this instinctive process take place, gently stimulating the new calf into life, ever so gently encouraging it to take its first steps on this blustery, icy day. We watched as it's ears twitched and legs shook. As Mummy cow looked up occasionally assessing us for the possibility of a threat to her new little one. Circling and nudging until finally one long skinny, bonny leg got a foot onto the ground, then a second and after a few funny face plants and attempts finally got to stand, so very uncoordinated. Stumbling, and tripping not quite able to stand up to powerful blast of the winter wind. Mum still very cautious of us checking often to see if we were still at a distance enough for her to be comfortably safe.
Our eyes caught more calves yet again playing, the older ones seemed to be congregating in a kind of calf nursery playing and messing about with all of their new found friends. The another cow started circling and bellowing, lay down, got up and continued to circle some more. It was as she was circling that this cow was in the process of birthing as we watched...
Another cow stood nearer to us and she looked to the ground also circling with only very occasional inspection of her newborn who lay on the ground. This girl behave very differently to the first we'd seen encouraging her baby to stand, this time there was no licking and nudging. Just an occasional inspection of her babe then of us all watching from the car. For half an hour or so we watched each scene. Then new calf taking it's first steps and falling all so often, the birthing cow circling then laying down, getting up and circling some more, and the reluctant nurturer who didn't quite seen to know what to do, or did she? After sometime she would wander from her baby and come back and she did this a few more times until she wandered off completely and we realised as she had done that, her new baby was not going to get up at all and it had died. Back with other cows across the paddock we saw and heard her give one last bellow, do cows experience grief? It certainly sounded that way. Our birthing cow was still going round and round up and down it was an amazing process to see. And our new walker slowly was gaining more steady feet and was now trying to suckle from its mother. All the time she kept moving around her baby so it could not quite get to her teat. It was really very fun to see this strange Mother and Baby Dance. Both of them trying to work out what to do, Me providing comic commentary to the dance and the new calf occasionally face planting on the ground as it took lunges trying to take hold of Mum, sometimes only getting her tail which didn't provide much sustenance at all.
We left the road by the paddock seeing life full circle pregnancy and birthing, new life taking first steps and sad death of another. Isn't mother nature beautiful. What an amazing afternoon.

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