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Beer, brats, basketball and miracle of birth make for a good night in neighborhood

On Second Thought
Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson, editor

It’s college basketball playoff season and also calving season in our neighborhood.
And thanks to modern technology, we took in riveting versions of both last week over beers and brats at the neighbors.
One of the supper guests was casually monitoring his cell phone for live-feed video of a heifer in labor.
A nearby television screen carried riveting Arkansas upset of No. 1 Gonzaga in NCAA playoffs. Table conversation at times was about the heifer and at times about the game.
For those who don’t have farming backgrounds, “heifers” are female livestock who have not yet borne calves. As first-time mamas, they have no idea what’s going on and sometimes need help from a nearby human.
This one had begun labor just before supper, and if she didn’t deliver by 8 p.m., the calf may need to be pulled.
As she labored over her calf, sometimes pacing in circles and sometimes lying in her bed of hay, her pen mates occasionally wandered over to check on her.
“They know how this goes by now,” the human said about delivery No. 11 so far this spring.
“But you should see them when the first calf shows up.”
He described a hysterical cow who doesn’t know what just happened to her, while the heifers circle around her and then freak out when the calf shows up. “Like it’s some kind of alien.”
We laughed at the prospect of conversation among the first-time mothers and their shared experience. The human females in the room, of course, empathized with the laboring heifer.
We learned that this year Heifer No. 3 (her tag ID) had been particularly curious in the delivery room, and we learned that another cow has been affectionately named a “doula” for her ability to calm the herd during a stressful delivery.
As I polished off my tater tots and ketchup, I wondered if our laboring heifer would need human assistance.
Suddenly the Arkansas-Gonzaga contest became a four-point game with only minutes left until the buzzer. After several fouls, free throws, time-outs and coaching theatrics, another upset hit the NCAA brackets.
When the celebrating Arkansas players left the court, I turned my gaze back to the calf cam and discovered the heifer had become a cow.
We marveled at the newborn calf somehow knowing how to get up on its wobbly legs to find Mom’s udders for nourishment.
“Truly miraculous,” we remarked. More so even than the Gonzaga upset.
It was a good night in the neighborhood.
Congratulations to the Razorbacks (who later bowed out of the playoffs) and to all the heifers becoming cows this spring.
Congratulations also to No. 3, who successfully delivered her own little alien over the weekend.

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