So, those of you who have children know what it’s like to hear them cry in the middle of the night.
You also know that you can often tell by their cry what the problem is. If they’re just crying because they’re bored, if there’s really a problem, if you need to call 911. It’s all in the cry, right?
So, last Sunday evening, I was sitting on our front porch, catching up with a lot of the work I’d gotten behind on from dealing with the wedding that had happened here the day before, when I heard what sounded like a low woman’s voice yelling over across the creek and on the side of the first ridge.
I kinda dismissed it—if there were people there, they were trespassing, since we own two ridges over, but unless they’re shooting at me or stealing cattle, I don’t give a flip if they want to walk across our property.
But it kept coming. I look up, and we have a mama cow and her new baby in a close pasture (that story some other time, LOL), and that mama is looking at the ridge like a pride of lions is camped out there. That got my attention.
All the other cows are in the far pasture that I can see in the distance, and they don’t seem to notice the sound.
Then I notice our German Shepherd (my husband and girls were out baling hay with the groom from the wedding the day before) was standing at attention, hair raised, looking at the same place the cow was, growling softly.
I calculate how many steps it is to the front door (three) and how long it will take me to get the door open (depends on if I drop my laptop or not) and whether or not I’m going to save just me or try to scoop the puppy up on my way by (he’s sitting on the porch floor, his head up, ears pricked, and whining softly).
Are there panthers in the Virginia woods? [The internet was not working, or I would have Googled it. : ) ]
I’m pretty sure I remember hearing—was it Little House in the Big Woods?—that panthers scream like women.
Anyway, the sound starts moving—it is screams every ten seconds or so as it moves across the ridge—then gradually fades away.
I’m thankful that I didn’t hear that the night I was out in the dark and rain and saw Diesel sitting on the seat of the Gator.
Anyway, I tell the girls and Watson about it when he gets home, and he speculates that it was a bobcat. Whatever it was, it was gone.
After we chat for a bit, we all take a little walk to go check the cows. A black white-faced heifer that we’ve been watching has a new heifer calf on the far side of the field, so Watson goes back to get her an earring while we stand and take pictures of the sunset, which is gorgeous.
He comes back, and the calf is pretty new and very small, and we’re able to separate her and her mom with the Gator. Watson catches her, and I have all three girls helping me keep the (very angry, very vocal, very aggressive) new mama away.
He gets her tagged, and we watch as the (still upset) mama takes her baby down by the creek. We take a look at the rest of the herd, making sure everyone is there. Things look good, so we finish out our evening and head to bed.
Now, I really like to sleep with the windows open (even in the winter, I like to keep them cracked). I like to be able to hear what’s going on outside. : ) Sometimes, I’ll get woken up by a calf bawling. Like a child, you can always tell if it’s just one that woke up and can’t find its mom or if it’s a bawl like something-is-trying-to-eat-me-come-save-me-NOW kind of bawl.
Well, last Sunday night around 3ish, I hear a cow bawling in the lower pasture, and she is in obvious distress. I’m lying there, running through my mind the cows that were still due to freshen and what they’d looked like the night before and whether it could be any of them (I’m saying I thought the bawling sounded like a cow in labor).
After about ten minutes, there was a break in the bawling, so I figure the calf had been born, but I was awake, so I got up and went downstairs to do a little work. (The internet here usually works great in the middle of the night. : )
Ten minutes later, Watson comes down, fully dressed.
“She started up again. I’m gonna take my gun for a walk.”
I nod, hoping he doesn’t want me, since (not to be graphic but) I’m wearing a sweatshirt and socks [and that’s it, folks : ) ], and I’m not the slightest bit interested in walking along with Watson and his gun. : )
He comes back in ten minutes later. I’m still working. He says, “I can see that heifer is still way down there where we left her last evening, along the creek, bawling. I wasn’t going to walk down. I came back for the Gator.”
We both know either something got her calf or her calf fell in the creek.
Watson has our big flashlight in one hand and his handgun shoved in the back waistband of his jeans. “I’m taking the Gator and going down. You coming?”
I don’t know how your husbands are, but that was a question that really meant, “I want you to come with me.”
“I’m cold and I’m not really dressed and I don’t have shoes. Come back and get me if you need me.” Okay, as soon as I said that, I hated it. I always try to say yes to my husband, and that was a definite no. “Never mind.” I hop down from my seat at the kitchen table. “Let’s go.”
I grab my sneakers on the way out. Watson has his muck boots on. Probably that’s what I should have done, but they would have looked a little ridiculous with my bare legs and sweatshirt, and hey, I know it’s the middle of the night and I know it’s several miles to the nearest neighbor, but a female is a female even in the middle of the night and even if the neighbors can’t see, right? LOL. (Not that my sneakers looked any less ridiculous. : )
So, we get down to the heifer who is bawling, and she’s standing beside the creek where there is a five-foot-high bank that stretches for a good fifty feet. There is brush and briars grown up, and it’s hard to see down. Watson flashes the light, and we walk along the edge. I’m looking in the water thinking I’m going to see a dead calf or a half-eaten one, but we finally find her, tucked against the bank where there’s an overhang and just enough room for her to get out of the water, curled up and shivering.
At least she’s alive. And I’m shivering too, so hey. ; )
Watson moves the Gator so that it’s between the bank and the mom, hands me the light, and walks about thirty feet down to where he can get in the creek while I shine the light for him so he can see.
He goes down the steep bank, then walks up the creek and makes it over to the calf, who is tucked in behind some brush and kind of hard to get a hold of.
Behind me, the mama is bawling. She’s upset and angry.
I can see Watson’s head when he’s standing up, and I think that, although the calf was pretty small, he’s not going to be able to lift her up that high, so I’m expecting him to pick her up and carry her down to where he went in the water.
But he doesn’t.
He hauls her up and gets her front end on the top of the bank. I wasn’t expecting this. I’ve got the flashlight in one hand, but I grab a front leg with the other. I have that mama breathing fire down my neck from somewhere behind me, and I start hauling backward with all my might. (I would have more weight to throw into this if I had more clothes on, just saying.) Except the Gator is directly behind me, so I can’t pull straight back, and Watson stopped it in front of the patch of briars and brush, so I’m hauling back, swerving to miss the Gator, he’s pushing up on the back end, and I can’t see the mama (but trust me, I can hear her), and I can’t see the briars that wrap around my legs nor the dead sticks that twist up in my ankles, poking and scraping the backs of my knees. Both feet get wrapped around the briars, I can’t move them, so I heave backward and fall flat on my back. I will die with that calf’s leg in my hand, because I’m not letting her go back over the bank, and as I hit the ground, her body’s beside me. Which is great, except her mom is behind me, and I’m flat on my back and wrapped up in briars.
I guess I’d rather get scratched than stomped to death, so I rip my legs out of the briars and roll over the calf toward the Gator and away from the hot dragon breath behind me. (Do remember we’re in a cow pasture, and you know where there are cows, there are cow patties. Enough said.)
The baby struggles up, and I do too, after I reach the Gator and roll under the open door.
I feel like I wouldn’t mind sitting down for a bit, when Watson says, “Hey, I need the light to get out of here.”
Oh, that’s right. The hubs is still down in the creek. LOL.
So, yeah, I shine the light down, he walks along the edge through mud that feels like quicksand, and I give him a hand up.
Mama is happy, the baby is getting a little midnight snack, and I’m thinking I would like a shower. : )
So, yeah, I don’t know what the rest of you guys are doing for fun at 3 a.m. on Monday morning, but Watson and I are all about the romance. LOL.