Birthing Babies

My husband, whose Superman cape is presently hanging in the closet while he lounges in his Lazy Boy has a pretty in-depth resume’.  Among his many talents include cowboss, gourmet chef, drumming dynamo,  and husband extraordinaire.  But most recently, he has added foal nanny.  The ranch he works for decided to buy a horse.  A horse who happened to be pregnant.  The horse nanny position was assigned to J-Dub.  So he’s been watching a bred mare for quite some time now checking her for signs of birthing.  Normally, a horse would have a foal and raise it in the pasture and life would go on without any interference from man. 

But this mare is a bit on the high-end, with good breeding for a cutting horse.  The hopes are that the baby will have good cutting horse tendencies and make a nice investment.

It’s a gamble.  There’s probably better odds betting 13 black with a spin of a roulette wheel.  But I like to play it safe anyway.

Due to the investment of this animal,  instead of putting her out into a pasture to have a baby, my husband built her a nice little stall and has been horse-sitting.  

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, J-Dub “don’t know nothing ’bout birthing no babies.”  Except cows.  Who are put in the pasture to calve.

The reason he must watch this horse closely is the very small window of time in which the foal needs to be “imprint trained”. 

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, I don’t know nothing about imprint training, but this is how I understand it.  As soon as the foal hits the ground, before it even stands up, a human begins working with it in order to imprint its brain  with certain techniques to enable it to be trained easier later in life.   

Last Saturday night we left town for a music festival in a nearby town believing that she was still 24 hours away from foaling.  Some other expert in horse gestation and delivery said if she wasn’t waxing (whatever that means) then we’d probably be okay until Sunday.

But when we returned on Sunday afternoon to check on the little mama, she had a little horsie by her side.

Although we were late and weren’t sure when the baby was born, J-Dub began his work.

He tied up Bobby, the momma, to get her out of the way and keep himself out of danger. 

Then began his newly acquired knowledge of imprint training on the little baby girl.

Mama  pawed the ground, knickered, and kicked up quite a stink, and some dirt, while her baby was taken from her and poked, prodded, pestered, and primed.

The idea of imprint training is to establish a bond between the baby and a human and to get it used to being handled to desensitize it for later training.  J-Dub laid the baby down on its side and rubbed it all over.  He picked up its feet for when it needs to be shod, rubbed under its tail so it won’t spook if a rope rubs it there, flexed its legs, stuck his finger in every orifice on its body and rubbed it all over until it was calm.  Then he rolled it over and did everything again on the other side. 

Then the two were reunited.  Four days later, Bobby the mama, was hauled to a nearby town to be bred back to foal again in about a year.  When the baby is weaned, she will be sent to a trainer and hopefully her imprint training will have taken effect.

J-Dub spent all that time building a nice little horse stall, equipped with pine shavings for a bed, and Bobby didn’t even use it.  Here’s the afterbirth laying in the horse pen.  Isn’t fascinating?  It looks like a big oily rag or something.

I just had to throw that in there.

You can thank me later.

It’s A Boy!!

It’s calving season out here on the Golden Spread. 

Spring is in the air. 

Trees are budding, tulips are blossoming, and heifers are birthing.

Heifers are young cows, first-time mamas.  I might even be as bold as to call them teenage mothers.  Unwed, teenage mothers.  My husband says you have to watch heifers closely because some of them have a little bit of mothering instinct, but they also don’t know what they’re doing.  For example, an old cow won’t leave their baby right after it is born, but a heifer might come a running at the feed truck, and then wig out when they realize they just left their baby.  They’re inexperienced. 

Because of their inexperience, a good cowboy will put them in a smaller pasture, close to some pens, and check on them sometimes twice a day, just in case one of them runs into trouble with calving.

Tonight J-Dub needed to check the heifers.  So I tagged along.  Only one time have I witnessed a calf birth, but it was under poor circumstances, and I would really like to see another one.   No such luck tonight.  We arrived right after the baby was born.  Probably 15 minutes. 

The mother and baby were off by themselves.

You can see the afterbirth has not completely been expelled.  The mama cow was licking him and cleaning him up, which is a good sign and shows that she is going to accept him as her calf. 

When she saw us driving through the gate, she got a little agitated and began bellowing at him and nudging him a bit aggressively.  He hadn’t even stood yet and she was eager to get him up and out of there.

We didn’t stay long.  It’s best to let nature have her way, and cows don’t send out birthing announcements.  They like their privacy.  So we headed home.  As we were pulling off, I asked J-Dub if he could tell if it was a boy or a girl.  He said it was a boy.

I came home to blog about this beautiful birth, and of course my pet chicken Freedom wanted out of the box.  She was perched right on my hand and I was just typing away.  I thought to myself, what a cute picture.  I grabbed my phone to take a shot, trying to get Freedom, my hand, and the keyboard in view, and just as I was about to click the picture, Freedom squatted down and took a grunt right on my desk.

Look closely and you can see the squirt shooting out of her chicken butt.


Okay, laugh at me all you want.  

It’s what I get for having  house chickens.

Would you ever do this?

I’ve acquired new learning. 

And anytime I have new learning, I must share it.  It’s just something about me.  Maybe that’s why I teach.  I want everyone to have the same knowledge I have, regardless how inane, unimportant, or disturbing it might be.  And I repeat disturbing.

Today’s new tidbit may fall in one or more of the previous categories.  I repeat disturbing.

I was perusing some blogs about simple living etc. and I came upon a post that caught my eye.  And made my mouth gape open. It was truly unbelievable to me at first.  Then I read more, and more, and the more I read, the more fascinated I became, the more I wanted to know, so I googled it and found it to be a semi-common practice.

I guess I just need to come out and say it.

{Deep Breath}

Okay.

I’m ready.

{Exhale}

It’s the practice of placenta eating.

No need to reread that.  I said placenta eating.  As in afterbirth.  As in eating afterbirth.

I KNOW!!  I KNOW!!  That was my reaction completely.

Can you believe this?????

The first time I heard about it,  was on a blog of a lady who lives out in the boonies.  She was having a complete natural childbirth in a water bath with midwives in her home.  She said after watching her goat give birth, and afterward eating the afterbirth, she realized what a natural thing it was, and that she planned on eating her placenta.  All mammals (except humans) do this.  It’s just a natural instinct in the animal world.  So her husband saved her afterbirth, cooked it down, and ground it into capsules for her to take after her childbirth. 

After reading her blog, I was all like, *blink blink* these are a bunch of backwards hillbillies.  Just look at what happens when people marry their cousins.

I was horrified.  But then I began to question, what if?  I’ve mentioned before that I believe there are healing elements all around us, in plants and in nature.  Maybe just maybe, the civilized part of us Westerners  hinder us from attaining it, because certain things seem so barbaric.  Like say, eating our placentas.

After my initial horrification(not sure if that’s a real word) wore off, I began to see this as completely natural, and dare I say, even beautiful.

 It’s actually called placentophagia and is practiced around the world, although discouraged in the western world.  Why would women do this, you may be thinking?  The potential benefits of eating the placenta include: staving off post pardum depression, replenishing nutrients, increasing breast milk production, and helping the uterus heal and tone itself back up.

In my google search, I found there are actually women who eat their placentas raw, and then others cook it up and make capsules.

Here’s a You tube video I found of a professional placenta chef.

The strange thing is, this isn’t the first time afterbirth has appeared on my blog.

And it’s not likely to be the last.