Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lena Foals

The night of April 5th, Lena’s due date, Pete said, “Lena’s waxing up. Can’t believe it’s gonna be one of the coldest nights we’ve had for awhile. Sure enough she’ll have her baby tonight.” Pete went out to check her at daybreak, and Lena’s foal was up and at her side: a sorrel filly---already alert and moving around the stall with her mother.

Whether it’s Lena’s new baby or any other baby animal, the miracle of birth remains the same to us every spring on the ranch. It brings with it a quiet feeling of hope and a sense of awe at life’s creative powers. I imagine the miraculous process of accurate embryonic cell differentiation at conception and the eleven month fetal development that takes place in order for a perfect being to arrive alive and well. We are stilled by the ability of a foal to rise so soon after birth with those long legs and then search for his or her mother’s milk. And we are impressed with most brood mares’ consistent instincts to nurture and protect their young, shadowing the foal and maintaining a protective shield to their young as others, horses or humans, show any signs of coming near.

Within twenty-four hours, Lena’s foal stands straighter, makes her first efforts at kicking out her feet, and becomes curious about the other objects in the stall other than her mother: perhaps Pete or a water bucket. She seems to have grown up just a bit overnight.

We look forward to the day when the paddocks are free of snow and mud so Lena and her baby can head out into the world and enjoy the warmth of the sun and dry ground, moving freely and unencumbered.

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