They arrive during the day amidst tractors feeding hay, four wheelers zooming about, and the constant hum of a farm that is preparing for the work of spring.
They arrive in the cool stillness of the night, the shiny afterbirth that covers them glistens in the spotlight that checks them at 10:00, 2:00 and 6:00. Their mothers are bred to be attentive, protective, and loving and the wet, floppy calves are licked dry and encouraged to stand within minutes of their arrival.
The pairs are left together in the calving pasture for a day or two at most and then are released to a larger area if mother and baby appear to be healthy. Mother cows, so solemn and peaceful throughout the winter, have a change of heart about the presence of humans after their babies are born in the spring. We move about them cautiously, thankful that their protective instincts will keep the calf safe over the coming months, but fully aware of what a charging cow is capable of.Watching cows and calves on a sunny evening in the early spring is one of my favorite moments in this annual cycle of life.
The older cows and calves are in a pasture that is now filled with spring runoff from the massive snows of the winter months. The waterspreading dike system holds the water while it infiltrates the ground and irrigates the alfalfa crop that lies beneath. What does not soak in to the ground is escorted off through weir boxes and pipes. Running water usually only lasts for a few fleeting days around here and livestock, humans and a wealth of migratory birds make the most of its beauty while it lasts.