cattle, coming of age, motherhood, Nature, parenting


Risky Business

We recently watched a nature program that showed herds of zebras and wildebeests crossing a swift, crocodile infested river together. The footage followed a mother and foal as they became separated. Both made it to shore but were too far apart to know where the other had landed. The camera moved between the colt that was too tired to jump up a tall embankment and his mother’s frantic search for him.

It became excruciating to watch as she swam back across the river filled with menacing crocs to search for her baby. All the while, he was being pushed aside by other frenzied animals jumping up to safety. When Mom didn’t find Junior, she plunged back into the river and fought her way to the other side for the third time! 

Just as she was clambering out of the water, a crocodile grabbed a back hoof, and we just knew she was goner. But that mother kicked and struggled until she was free.
In the meantime, Junior finally made it up the bank to the herd where he began crying for his mother. The narrator told us mothers recognize their colt’s cries, but this baby would perish if they weren’t reunited soon.

Eventually, Mom and Junior found one another, and he immediately began to nurse. All was well. The two would be inseparable until it was time for him to make it on his own.
Wrenching Moments

Since watching that show, I’ve thought a lot about motherhood and the inborn impulse to protect and nurture. If you’ve ever lost track of your child or been through a crisis where your children were in a different location, you’ve shared that mother’s panic. It can make us clingy and cause difficulty when it’s time to let our children make their own way in the great big world.

I wonder if men have a better understanding of the need for that natural separation process. My husband was always the voice of reason when I was conflicted about whether to rescue or stand pat with our kids. With his help, I’ve usually been able let our children and now grandchildren struggle a little when I really wanted to jump in and rescue them. (It’s even harder with grandchildren!)

The Hoofman calves want their Mommies!
The time to grow up and make our own way in the world comes to all species. Some, like college freshmen, are champing at the bit to be on their own. But others like these calves, would rather stick close to mom and let her feed them long past time to be weaned. Our friends who raise cattle had to step in and separate these cry babies from their mothers. 
Debbie tells me they cried for days. She wishes they had consulted the Farmer’s Almanac to choose the optimum time to wean them, which is based on when the moon is in the signs of Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. (They rule the thighs, knees, ankles, and feet.) I don’t know about that, but I do know it’s hard to see our children suffer even when in our hearts we know it’s for their own good.
Eventual Rewards
I’m sure it was distressing for those cows to hear their babies bawling for three or four days. But they eventually stopped and began to eat special pellets known as cow candy. Don’t you know that was a relief to everyone involved! 

Three cheers to all you mothers who have struggled through giving your young’uns the freedom to conquer the world!
And courage to those who will face that someday!

How about you? Do you have some separation stories to share.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child<sup class="crossreference" value="(A)”> she has borne?
Though she may forget, I will not forget you!<sup class="crossreference" value="(B)”> 
Isa. 49:15


  1. Wonderfully spoken Dorothy. This is an area in which I am struggling right now. Time is going too quickly and I'm panicking a bit. Thank you for your lovely words that calmed my Momma soul.


  2. So glad it spoke to you. Yes, letting go is hard, but experiencing a “failure to launch” could be a worse thing! Just enjoy each day as much as you can. Grandchildren are the concession prize for letting go, and they are wonderful!


  3. Oh, my. I hadn't thought about that in years. I lost my granddaughter, age 5, in the crowd at a local arts and crafts fest – hundreds of people milling about in the town square. I had baby grandson, with me too, and was really panicked. I was so proud of her – she found a policeman, and he brought her to me. We all made a big fuss over her doing that! But it taught me a lesson about keeping up with them.


  4. This post tugged on my mothering heartstrings. I remember when I lost my son for a few minutes in the MIAMI AIRPORT! He was 3 – I thought my mother had him, she thought he was with me. Suddenly he disappeared in a mass of people. I scanned the crowd in a panic and caught a glimpse of his bright blue backpack as he was swallowed by the people in the terminal. I ran, found him, grabbed him. I still shudder when I think of this.


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