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New life

April 21, 2012

What a season of gifts this is. New life is emerging everywhere, both vegetable and animal. On our walks this week, we have seen young leaves on the ancient whiskery lime trees,

and tiny forget-me-nots growing wild in the long grass, with their litmus paper colours and sweet faces.

The geans (wild cherries) are all in blossom,

and on sunny banks there are even bluebells beginning to flower, which I just find amazing for April.

On the river, fluffy ducklings scoot about after their mums like little wind-up bath toys; while the local deli has duck eggs for sale which are the most beautiful, well, duck-egg blue.

Best of all, after some hard work by some of the men to repair the fences damaged by trees felled in the winter storms, there are cattle back in our fields. Every day, more calves appear.

Today, for the first time in my life, my son and I were lucky enough to see a calf being born. We watched the mother use her teeth to peel back the sac from her baby’s face and lick him clean, all while her own contractions continued to expel the afterbirth. Within minutes, the little wet calf was struggling to work out how to co-ordinate its legs in order to stand up for the first time. When we came back that way a couple of hours later, the calf was already trying out a few little leaps and bucks around its mother on its brand new legs. Welcome to the world.

You might enjoy: An evening walk.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2012 12:55 am

    Gorgeous photos! 🙂

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      April 21, 2012 12:22 pm

      Thanks, Stef. It’s just lovely out there!

  2. April 21, 2012 2:46 pm

    I really love these, DB,. specially the photos of the calf and his/her mother. How lucky you were to see the birth. I can remember watching with fascination as our cat had her first litter of kittens and marvelling over the eternal miracle of birth. The cow is a very handsome beast – what breed is she?

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      April 22, 2012 11:37 pm

      Aren’t they beautiful cattle. They are pedigree Limousins, bred by the farmer who rents our pasture. Some are dark brown, almost black, but most are red like these ones. They are all such fine beasts.

      The ‘miracle of birth’ is just that: astonishing and moving every time, no matter what the creature is.

  3. April 22, 2012 9:22 pm

    How wonderful to have been able to watch this with your son. It beats any amount of city science festivals and museums. Do you know Susan Hill’s book ‘The Magic Apple Tree’? In it she says ‘there are so many GOOD things for a child to do in the country.’

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      April 22, 2012 11:40 pm

      We were so lucky to see it, and to see it together. Education on the hoof! I don’t know the book you mention but I am intrigued, as it sounds my kind of thing. I do so agree with her. We have so many daily opportunities in the countryside for learning about the wonders as well as the practicalities of the circle of life.

  4. hmunro permalink
    April 23, 2012 3:25 pm

    What a lovely post, DB. I was especially touched by your last four words: “Welcome to the world.” As cruel and imperfect as the world may sometimes be, it is still full of beauty and hope and promise.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      April 23, 2012 11:33 pm

      Absolutely! I started speculating about the future of these calves and the farming industry in general. Then I thought, stop. Here is a small miracle. You should just enjoy the wonder of the moment.

      • hmunro permalink
        April 24, 2012 11:44 am

        My mind went to the exact same place, DB. Let’s hear it for enjoying the wonder of the moment!

  5. Erika W. permalink
    April 23, 2012 4:05 pm

    A beautiful post. For some reason what stays with me is “Litmus colours” of forget-me-nots just perfect.

    I once saved a newborn calf. although I didn’t see the birth. I was at my kitchen window in Huntsville, Texas,some years ago when the light got really dark with a lot of movement. I thought “Dangerous clouds?” But going otside I saw at least 8 turkey vultures circling a standing cow straddling a calf and a few more perched on our fence. A cow in the neighboring field had just given birth.

    I telephoned the ranch owner and he came right away with a truck to remove cow and calf. he told me later that the vultures would have eventually succeeded in taking out the calf’s eyes and killing it.

    I’m sorry–this is not nice to tell of but I still feel good thinking about it.

    • dancingbeastie permalink*
      April 23, 2012 11:39 pm

      Nature is wonderful, but rarely ‘nice’. Crows do the same to newborn lambs here. It makes me feel sick to see it. You did a fine thing in intervening: I’m sure the vultures didn’t starve and you helped the cow to give her calf a chance at life. I once took in an orphaned otter cub and kept it alive by hand feeding it with cat’s formula milk for 24 hours, until the wildlife officers could take it away. I still feel blessed to have had that contact with a wild creature, and that opportunity to help.

  6. Val permalink
    May 5, 2012 10:52 pm

    That is the sweetest calf. What a pretty face it has. I rather miss my nature photography blog, now. I had a photo of calves that had wandered over to the fence just across the road from our garden. They too had sweet faces (and looked mischeivous).

    Forget me nots are such pretty flowers – my favourites when I was a child, I’m still very fond of them. My sister, years ago, knowing how much I like them bought me a silver filigree-work brooch with forget me nots on it.

    Lovely post as ever. It seems a while since I’ve visited your blog.

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