We were off, and then we weren’t.
On Saturday, March 9th, our first calf was born. John knew it was coming, he had seen that the cow’s water had broken, and when he got up on Saturday morning, there it was. A black and white calf trembling in the cold rain.
John was concerned – the calf didn’t seem to be nursing, and was not able to walk well. He brought it a bottle, and went out where it lay in the open field in the rain. It drank and got up, and a little while later he observed it nursing from its mother. He checked it again later, and found it again laying in the field. John weighed his options and decided the calf was better in the field with mom, hopefully nursing, than alone in the basement being bottle fed.
When he returned in the morning, it had died.
It is an odd thing to mourn an animal you were raising to bring to slaughter at some later date. But it did hit us both hard. It was the birthing of our lives in Iowa, our fresh start, and suddenly it was gone.
It made me sad too to think of this little being, a being for whom we were in charge, not able to find warmth and nurturing. And it felt just a little too analogous to our lives starting out. Will we survive? Will we put ourselves out there and not find the nurturing we need?
The day came and went, and after a bit of sadness we channeled directly into a long phone argument, we went to sleep, John there on the farm and me far away, living another life altogether.
And by Sunday morning, there was another calf. Lucky number 2.
Maybe it is inauspicious, and the Gods have stacked the cards against us. Maybe we will fail miserably. But maybe that is also the real way Mother Nature works – in unglamorous, often brutal, rarely-on-your-own-time-frame, ways. Maybe it is no sign at all. Maybe it is just life doing its thing.