Utero babies

Molly’s belly fairly bubbles with baby movement now. Two or three times every day I go and sit with Molly  in her room -the moment she hears me croon, she lays on her side so I can stroke her belly. As long as she can feel me leaning against her she is happy. I encourage this. Farrowing is easier if you have the trust of the sow.  Her babies kick and almost roil under my warm hand and she closes her eyes and  sleeps.

But the surprise was from Lady Astor yesterday. She is the one on the right of this shot. Lady Astor is a Holstein/Dutch belted cross.

She was chewing her cud and I was standing by her side with my hands on her belly waiting for a sign. I had gone as deep as prayer.  My whole self settles into my hands as I wait for the calf to move in there.

When we were kids, we grew up right beside the sea, we never fished that I can remember, I think we loved the ocean too deeply to hook and kill the fish in it. But we used to drag the dinghy out into the water and puddle about out there.

I would track the migratory patterns of the orca with their familiar white spot, pods of killer whales came past our house four times a year. I would watch for the dolphins from our house balcony. I knew they were there. I must have been eleven or twelve or thirteen at the time – Mum was not sick yet and I was free to roam alone in those summers.

As a child I was very sure that I could communicate with them so when I knew the orca was due, or there were reports of smaller dolphuns, I would row out to wait for them

I would ship the oars and lie over the side of the dinghy, upsetting the balance right to the waterline,  then I would go very still. Bare feet hooked under the wooden plank seat. Hands trailing in the water as the boat slopped and floated. I was a skinny, shoeless, leggy child with long wild untamed hair and freckles and I was sure, totally sure, that if I called to the dolphins (orca is technically a dolphin and I had done all the research)  with my mind,  they would rise up out of the deep, from under the boat and touch my fingers before lowering themselves back out of sight.  I would see them as rolls of dark silvery water, watching me watch them.

At that age I dreamed of having a little boat made of glass so I could see what was under there. Imagine my surprise as a grown-up when I discovered that some tourist resorts did have glass bottomed boats.

It feels like I did this for summers on end but I am sure it was only a few times before my parents caught me breaking the ‘ never alone on the sea’ rule. And you cannot Sea Watch with little brothers in tow.

I only tell this because the total focus on my cows belly, calling her baby to show himself, is the same as when I was a child leaning out over the boats side in a long deep empty sea, the length of a shout from the shore, there I was communing with underwater mammals. I would take my breathing down as far as I could without hybernating. Not a sound but the sea. Not a movement but the sea. Feeling around in the waters with my senses for these fish that were not really fish.

They never did visit me. The orca or the dolphins. I saw a stingray once and orca love to eat stingrays but it just floated past. I saw little fish and jellyfish. All the shallow water inhabitants.  My memory records no disappointment at this. I only ever saw these big mammals from the beach.  But I knew that they would come up to me one day.

So with the same loose rangy intensity, I am standing at the side of my big milk cow feeling deep for any movement in her belly that is not breathing and also hyper aware of the other cows in the vicinity hoping I do not get caught in the usual pushing and shoving that cows do. But I am happy, I miss my milk cow and it is nice to stand with her. She does not mind – she trusts me.

I feel a slow roll under my hands.

Could that be a calf? I am not sure. But it reminds me of the slow roll of those long ago imaginary orca.

Without any real thought I lean right into her and lay my good ear on her side. It takes a while to sort out the noises I hear in there. Her stomachs are loud. I hear the watery boom, pause, boom, pause, of Lady Astor’s  familiar heartbeat. Her heart is huge and at rest. Then like the slow emergence of a big silver fish up out of the depths comes the pat-pat, pat-pat, pat-pat of a smaller heart. It recedes as fast as I heard it.

I wonder if I did hear it, did I hear it? Did I her a calf. Can such a thing happen?


I pull out my phone – reasoning that if I could hear that with my ear maybe I could record it with the the phone. So I turned on the recorder and pushed the end of the phone low in her round body.  Instantly a little movement came from deep inside the belly of the cow and the phone jerked in my hand.  A tiny foot booted the phone straight back off. The calf was tapping ME.

It seems to me there might be a baby in there after all.

There was no more movement after that. And after a while I left to do the chores. Curious, I thought as I climbed back over the gate.  And now I think maybe I imagined it after all.

Suffice to say there was nothing on the recording either. I make myself laugh sometimes. I am going to dig out my stethoscope today I have one somewhere around here.

I hope you have a lovely day.

Love celi

37 Comments on “Utero babies

  1. you must be the loveliest person alive because you so love your  animals and because you want to be so much a part of the lives…. You cannot get much nearer to a person or animal as when you listen closely to the beat of their heart…

    We look forward to the imminent arrival of the babies….lots o love xxxx



    Sent: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 1:50 PM

  2. Oh My Gosh!!! How fabulous that would be!!! It certainly sounds like a calf must be in there! The ‘is she or isn’t she’ game can get very old! I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed that she IS!!! Can’t wait to hear what you find out with the stethoscope!!! 🙂 PS Lovely, vivid writing today!

  3. Lady certainly looks like she could be pregnant. I think that when you are really in tune with your animals you could hear something as marvelous as the little fella’s heartbeat. Hope you find your stethoscope!

  4. For me – it was birds that I would sit so still for as a child. I so wanted the little sparrows (that daddy hated) to come rest on my hands and shoulders. (insert picture of Cinderella here) To feel the flutter of their little wings. But alas – when I opened my eyes it was one of the cats that always climbed into my lap or my big big dog flopping down taking up my whole lap with 1/4th of his body….

    Smart calf shunning technology already. 🙂

  5. Beautiful….that little hoof kicking the phone seals the deal, I’m sure. She is with calf! I wonder how many Molly will have. Roiling around in there…

  6. Yipppppeeeeeee… there is going to be milk and cream and fresh butter and yogurt and cheese and… and… and…this summer. Lovely remembrances of a childhood on the sea, thank you. Ha, you were probably very lucky an orca didn’t come up to your hand or it likely would have upset a small dinghy! But I’m thinking it was perhaps too shallow in any event. When I was out on the east coast of Canada a few years back for a holiday my friend and I went “whale watching” in the Bay of Fundy and whales were breaching right up beside the boat we were in. It was an amazing experience. Hope you have a good day too. ~ Mame 🙂

    • It doesn’t have to be that deep for orcas to swim. Here in NZ anyway, they come in pretty close to the shore, chasing stingrays. My brother got an awful fright once, he was snorkelling and saw a fin coming through the water towards him. Fortunately not a shark! but a pod of orcas, right in close to shore. Turned out that there was a shark, a friend on shore could see it, and told them after that there was a baby orca with the pod, and the pod had closed up around it to protect it from the shark. And the boys just happened to be in the middle too! Later that same evening our whole family was having tea on the beach further down the coast, and the orca pod came swimming right through the bay, the little baby one coming so close it was nearly beaching itself. Some of us waded out to see if we could get close to it, but it went back out. I like to think it had been as curious about us and what we were doing, as we had been about it! They are amazing creatures.

      • What an amazing story. I am glad that wee babe did not beach herseIf – you kids probably helped flush her back out to her mother. I do love the orca – and they have very good memories. They navigate their territories like dogs doing the rounds of their boundaries. We used to know round about when they were due to turn up again. Lovely to hear about your Pod! c

  7. You were brave hanging over the side of the dingy, I think I’ve watched too many bad horror films to do that. The beast from the deep! Exciting new babies everywhere. 😀

  8. I will have a lovely day, for, it has already begun with your sweet, sensitive, sensory filled story of the orcas, the dolphins, the cows. This is such a poetic post, Celi, and your abiding respect of all creatures is palpable. I look forward to the continuing story.

  9. You took me with into a deep meditation here. You tell such wonderful stories of ordinary life. One day, I would like to go back to the beginning of your posts and read from there. You write in a way that draws me in.

  10. Beautiful. I too know what is like to suspend breath and self to summon that connection to something in nature, steadfastly believing in my ability. To this day, despite a lack of evidence, I don’t doubt it.

  11. I love the way you bring us along, either in your recollections or activity on the farm. Beautiful imagery and pictures. Thank you.

  12. Oh my, Miss C. A most beautiful and holy post. Such a gift that you put these experiences, today’s and your childhood, into words that my eyes and brain could read, and that my heart could feel. I commune/communicate with my cats in much the same ways — deep below the surface, under the breath, my heart to their hearts, through touch and listening and just being. Ahhhhh….so precious. Thank you.

  13. It must have been an incredible childhood growing up alongside the ocean… cannot wait to see the baby calves!

  14. What a story-teller you are–holding us in that arc — not knowing whether or not you felt Lady’s little calf until the end. And even then…
    It’s lovely to glimpse your life living so near the sea.

  15. My friend, an Aboriginal woman of the local mob, sea people, called up the whales once. We knew they were out there, migrating south, and were on the beach straining our eyes to get a glimpse. She suddenly made this eerie, ‘old’ noise that jumped me out of my skin, and stood there ‘lost’ for ages, calling. We gave up waiting after an hour or so, as we had to be on the road home. We had just driven out of town when she shouted ‘they’re here’ did a u-turn and raced back to the beach, up onto the headland…..and sure enough. they were there. So many whales, the water boiling with them. They were right in close, in the bay, as close as they could get without beaching themselves, and ranged around the headland. We stood as close to the edge as we could get, holding hands, doing what you did, barely breathing, and being there with them, of them, in our minds. We were both in tears as they rolled and slapped flippers and turned and went back out to sea, and felt as if we’d been on a long journey. Locals who were there watching said they’d never seen so many whales, and in so close to the beach. Even now, many years later, I still can feel, sense those whales, remember how it felt, communing with the whales.

    • That is an extraordinary story. A wonderful story. A gift really. I know exactly what you were feeling. Having been in this position myself once out at Mahia in NZ.

  16. I am a scuba diver. We always say the slowest diver wins. Can only imagine the anticipation of waiting for a whale to appear. Stillness.

  17. Calf or no calf, orca or no orca, I love every single word of this. I think there is a calf. But what can I possibly know over here? x

  18. both stories, amazingly beautiful , thank you once again for making me feel more alive 🙂

  19. So beautiful, so peaceful!
    I think I felt kitten(s) move inside my ‘work cat,’ Piggy, yesterday. It was pretty magical as she trusts no one but me to cuddle her, so it felt very much as if she was sharing them with me.

  20. A beautiful post and what beautiful creatures. They are very photogenic and look like they are losing for you in the first photo. A lovely read to start my day.

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