It was a dark and stormy night …
Stormy? Well, not so much. Dark? Pitch dark.
<<<<< When, what should my wondering ears hear? Ü >>>>>
Hooves on gravel. (Rooftop, no.)
In farm-speak, hooves-on-gravel means trouble is afoot. Four of them. Four feet or pairs of four-footed critters on the LOOSE. Running. On the gravel roads that surround our farm. In other words, not pasture-fed, but free range, soon to be out-of-range cows (maybe horses) if something isn’t done quickly. Done and gone. Gone before dawn.
I threw on a robe, pulled on some boots, grabbed my derringer, scrounged a headlamp. Down several flights of stairs and into the dark, my searchlight searching for eyes. Whose?
Was it Lightning Bolt (LB), my horse? Paco, Kim’s horse? One of my milk cows? And why were they, it, he, she running back and forth and all around in such a panic? Wolves? Aliens? Imminent earthquake?
Now when something goes haywire on a farm, ALL the animals start bellowing, whinnying, bleating, mooing (to laugh is human, but to moo is bovine). From bedded down to bedlam in 30 seconds flat.
Bull. Twinkle. Eyes.
It was my Jersey bull. He’d busted through his fence and was pushing through another—the pasture where my girls reside. (Animals and busted fencing aren’t a good mix. They can get injured easily and then you have that to deal with.) In other words, somebody was in heat, but we keep track of these things and none of our girls were scheduled for … you know.
<<<<< I knew in a moment I must be real quick. Ü >>>>>
Bully boy was in a bullish mood and not the least bit charming as I approached him. So I hatched a plan that involved hopping into my Jeep, cornering him with it, crawling out the passenger side, opening the gate with my right foot, shooing all the girl cows back in with my left foot …
In my robe.
He was in. Wipe the sweat off my brow. He’s headed for a cow.
(Conjugal visit of sorts.)
Now, this story has a surprise and joyous ending. A tryst with a twist. Earlier that day, after fretting for a month that something wasn’t right (and with a blood test in hand that day to confirm my worst fears), it was determined that my going-on-10-months pregnant milk cow, Chocolate, who I’ve had for several years, wasn’t going to have a baby after all. Her baby, whose heart we’d heard beating only a couple of months before, had probably died inside of her. Problematic at best. Perhaps fatal to Chocolate. Devastating for me. We had a veterinary visit scheduled for the next day.
I stood in the dark. (In my robe.) Watching. Raising dairy cows is two parts night watch and only one part sleep. Bully boy went (let’s say charged) directly over to …
Chocolate. Chocolate? Unbelievable. The really good news?
She “stood” for him. Are you familiar with the term? It means she “let” him. In other words, she was in heat. (If not in heat, bully boy betta-fugget-about-it.) Which means, she’d probably lost her calf (born prematurely) in the tall grass and we had missed it somehow. (Now that’s a story for another day.)
We kept our appointment with the vet, well, mainly because we just happen to be located near one of the top vet schools in the country. The veterinarian facility at Washington State University is a total class act and the doctors are just the kindest, most amazing mix of dedicated men and women you’ll ever meet. Here are the two docs who checked out Chocolate the day after her midnight tryst to confirm that, yes, there had been “activity” the night before. Using an ultrasound, they confirmed that her uterus was clear and good to go again. Now, another nine months of waiting and hoping.
Chocolate with her first baby, Molasses. Such a good momma. Notice how her eyes have changed with age (dark circles). The mask of motherhood—worry this, worry that.
We’ll do a simple pin-prick blood test in three to four weeks to find out if her tryst was fruitful or not.
“Cows are amongst the gentlest of breathing creatures; none show more passionate tenderness to their young when deprived of them; and, in short, I am not ashamed to profess a deep love for these quiet creatures.”
-Thomas de Quincy