(Picture by Rebecca Bloomfield Photography)
Two Wailing Babies, One Wailing Mama, And All I Have In Common With My Cow.
One of the biggest joys of this past season was having a warm large bovine body to lean against each morning. The rhythm of daily milkings, her fur that always smells like the current weather, the big eyes that clearly understand much more than I do; it all gives me a place to be in this messy world that is comfortable and full of cream.
Even though I try not to wrongfully appoint all these human traits to our family cow, I can’t help but recognize the commonalities and phases we move through in more similar ways than I could have ever imagined. As a woman that started farming and mothering at the same time, our maternal manners in common are undeniable.
Every mammal here at the farm births like I do, nurtures and feeds her young like I do. But Georgi, our cow, who nourishes me with all her milk while I provide our youngest with all my milk, holds up a mirror and pulls my heartstrings on the daily.
Whenever I see the marks her calf left on her after a greedy nursing session, I can almost feel it sting. When I see her tolerate all the pushing around, bumping, stepping on her hay before she can take her first bite, it feels all too relatable.
A couple of weeks ago we brought Georgi and Emma the calf to the pasture by the tent, and a few days later decided to night wean Emma. One look at her is enough to understand where all our milk has been going the past few months when we walk back to the house with a coffee cup full of creamy milk, but otherwise empty milking buckets.
We planned on shutting Emma in a stable at dusk, right beside her mama, where they can see each other and face snuggle, but where she can’t reach the udder. Then first thing in the morning we’d milk and leave some for the calf’s breakfast, but have plenty for our family needs.
Somehow the same night seemed like the right one to night wean our own youngest. His toddler body as strong and nourished as Emma’s, and me as ready as Georgi to sleep a bit more and to be consumed a little less.
And that is how I laid awake an entire night, listening to the wailing of a calf, harmonized by the 2 year old cuddled in my arms. I could only imagine Georgi chewing her cud, closing her eyes, more graceful and at peace than I could ever be.
The Wonders Of Being A Mammal
The next morning my tired eyes stared at her unfazed big head as I milked two buckets full of goodness. Her baby looked like nothing had ever happened (and lingered around in her stable with the doors open), and so did mine. The next night he almost slept straight through until 4am, and I kept a noise maker on to keep my anthropomorphising motherheart from aching.
Oh the wonders of being the most complicated of animals. The biggest lesson life at the farm has taught me is to see myself for what I am, a mammal, with all it’s capabilities and needs, and embrace that with all my might.