John counted the groups as he went, noting which heifers were looking close to that due date, thankful as he went that none had decided to make last night the night to bring a calf into the world. But, as he ended his circle in the pasture his numbers were off by one and a niggling sensation in his head told him it hadn’t been a miscount.
John found the mess when he came up on the little canyon down by the draw. The snow had covered her tracks which meant she had got into trouble around about the time the storm started. The top half of her black-haired torso stuck out of a drift, John knew she would be dead before he even got closer. She must have been there all night.
Something shuffled then in the drift and John watched in shock as the new mother shook off the snow and turned her body around. She started licking off the calf lying still as ice in the drift snow. Lord! That little guy must be frozen through. She probably laid there and tried to push him out all night and then he was born all trembling and wet on snow. He would be gone now. What a pity! The cow, so intent on her new babe, didn’t seem to care or notice as John nudged the horse closer, his tough cowboy heart saddened by the fight the heifer had put in just to lose a calf to the merciless cold.
The snow around her body had melted with her body heat, was packed down around her with the struggles of labor, and was stained pink with blood from the after birth. The heifer, oblivious to her surroundings, continued her chore with her long rough tongue licking over and over the face and body of her prodigy.
And then he moved. It was just a tiny blink of an eye at first, then a twitch of the little ears. John’s heart turned over with the excitement and was off his horse in a moment, edging closer. But this time the cow noticed, let out a bellow, and struggled to her feet. The look she gave John made him want to laugh with joy. She was not going to let him get a step closer and, as if the little guy was trying to show off, John watched in amazement as he also struggled up on his tiny hooves in the slippery snow. The mother let a out a softer call now, one she made as she turned her head slightly to the calf and nudged him a little. He found milk in moments. John couldn’t believe what he had just watched.
That cow had started labor as the storm blew in and gave birth to him in a snow drift. Now both of them were standing there looking at their caretaker as if he needed to find another task to occupy his time because they didn’t require any assistance.
“Well, good morning, beautiful.” John said with a chuckle, tipping his hat, and hopping back in the saddle. He turned the horse around and smiled as they trotted through the snow, sparkling in the morning light.
God’s grace seemed to shout out to him from the bright sun that day and say, “Be still, and know that I am God.”