About six hours ago, I gazed out a small bedroom window on the west side of our house and saw one of my favorite cows, Sophia, licking a tiny, new calf. Lately, I had noticed that she seemed a lot thicker than normal and suspected she was pregnant, but was honestly not expecting her to have a calf quite so soon. As I gazed out the window, I marveled at the tiny calf and its first-time mother. The calf was a beautiful little ball of light brown and white fur. It’s head is light brown and the body looks like it has been splatter-painted with cinnamon brown paint. A true Longhorn mix.
Over the past five or so hours, I have watched Sophia doing what she was designed by God to innately do on just this occasion. She has been cleaning it incessantly. She has nudged it repeatedly with her nose. She has forced it to stand and walk around. She has stayed very close to the calf and watched all who dare to approach. At one point, a group of crows and a vulture started flying all around them and she quickly made the calf get up and walk around her in circles by nudging it with her nose. I was about to get involved, but our entire herd came running over to meet the baby calf and quickly shooed off the birds who were acting as a nuisance to the new mother and her calf. Moments ago, she forced the baby to get up after only a brief rest. She nudged it to the right place and led it to nurse her for quite a while. At first, when the calf stood up, it seemed very unsure of its long, wobbly legs. Sophia put her nose between the calf’s hind legs and pushed it along using her nose so it could practice using its legs. I am actually watching them from my bedroom through a pair of binoculars so that I don’t draw unnecessary attention to them for our dogs and donkeys. I want Sophia to have a moment of peace before she is noticed by some of our more pesky animals.
Several things popped into my mind. We have been given, by God, the physical traits and innate knowledge to do what we are designed by God to do. In this instance, the momma cow is forcing the calf to respond to her licks and nudges. She keeps trying to get the baby to stand and nurse because the baby needs to ingest as much colostrum as possible in the first twelve hours after it is born in order to ward off diseases. This momma is doing everything within her power to ensure the survival of her very first calf. I am thankful for Sophia’s natural instincts and watching closely to make sure the baby is nursing well.
Another thing I thought about was how the rest of the herd ran over to excitedly meet the calf. They all took turns touching the calf’s nose with their own noses and the other young calves checked out the new calf on the block. Looking at those cows greet the new baby reminded me of the love I felt when my own two children were born. Not only did I have baby showers galore for them both, but we had a constant stream of loving friends and family members for months to meet them both. What a blessing!! God has created us for community and encouragement from one another. He knows what we need on this journey of parenting that can be oftentimes difficult and lonely without the proper guidance and fellowship from our friends and family. Like I had with my own children, I am so thankful that our little herd of cows have been together for over two years now. They are all comfortable in one another’s presence and have done a great job taking care of our four new calves born over the past nine months. They take turns on nursery duty and all seem to keep constant watch for unwanted visitors.
With each new life born to us on Green Acres, whether it is a litter of tiny piglets, a new calf, a baby chick, or a litter of puppies, I marvel at the way God has given animals such a keen awareness of their surroundings and the ability to choose safe places to birth their new babies. The pigs build elaborate nests for their piglets. The cows bed down where they are near water and can watch for predators all around them. The chickens often hide in an out-of-the-way, completely hidden-from-view location. Even our dog, Stella, scoped out a very unusual, but perfect little nook under our stairs which was literally about the only dry area to speak of after heavy rains hit for days after the puppies were born. With Stella, we tried to move them all to a “better house” several different times, but she insisted on moving her puppies back under the stairs each time. Mamma truly knows best.
To many of you, these observations may be obvious, but I have been amazed at the way God created our farm animals to weather the rains, storms, heat, and cold with such God-given intuition. He gave them beautiful ways to speak to their young and even instruct them on how to act. It humors me to hear my momma cows “yell-mooing” at their calves when they get too rowdy. It warms my heart when our momma pig, Hammah Montana, quietly oinks and encourages her piglets as they are nursing and then “boss-oinks” at them when they are misbehaving.
About four and a half hours after the beautiful calf was born, Sophia finally allowed herself to step away from the sleeping calf and get a drink about 8-feet away out of our large pond. She is feeling better now that the calf nursed well and is sleeping again. All is right on Green Acres today. I am thankful for another beautiful calf and thankful that, when The Outdoorsman and The Trooper arrived at Green Acres, we were all able to go across the pond and check on Sophia and get some pictures of her and her beautiful baby.