A rancher’s wife knows and understands that sleep during calving season is something to be savored. Deep sleep is unheard of, and typical nights are a combination of restless anxiety and wondering when the call to help will come in. For me, that was last night. My husband arrives home from the midnight check and the back door shuts just a little louder than normal with the pitter-patter of footsteps across the floor brisker; I know something was awry. Then, I hear the anxious whisper that cut through the midnight air, “Staci, #715 cow is having a backward baby.” To satisfy my ego and confidence for later gratification, which I will receive none, I ask the obvious question, “Do you need me to help?” In response, I receive the token reply of, “It would be nice!” I proceed deliriously making my way to the mudroom to pile on layers of clothing consisting of a sweatshirt, hat, mitten, coveralls, and muck boots. I slowly process that these bulky articles of clothing will only hamper my ability to scramble through the land mines of frozen cow pies, lick tubs, and other unsuspecting impediments to getting to a possibly angry momma cow that has another half an animal hanging from her posterior. However, with the projection of the worst cast aside, I waddle as speedily as possible while my husband anxiously awaits. Thankfully, #715 made her way to the maternity pen in the barn without incidence and is securely caught in the head catch. The ensuing moments are when the true chaos begins. My husband disrobes his jacket bearing his Popeye-like arms protruding from his coveralls that would make any Chip and Dale dancer envious and begins to list off his demands for me, his awakening assistant. “LUBE, CHAINS, HANDLES, hold tail, another handle, where’s the puller?” I can only assume he believes that I am part kangaroo with a pouch large enough to hold all these items along with a 6-foot-long calf puller! Might I mention that not once have I heard a please or thank you. Tempers are hot! Once chains are secured and the puller is in place, the outward extraction process begins with expectations and adrenaline running high. “Pull! Push down on the back of the puller, gently, slower, faster, GO GO GO, PULL!” And just like that with an exploding hurricane of wetness and a loud sloshy plop that all ranchers’ wives have often heard, my daughter’s high dollar registered embryo transfer calf has entered the world in a thud of juice. Frantically racing against time, I remove the chains and put the puller in stow as my husband clears airways and tickles the nose of the newborn inducing the most beautiful little cough. The moment peaks with an exhalation and a wet headshake by junior, and my husband exclaims, “He’s alive!” and we all collectively breathe again at last! What has happened is a magical moment that can only be described as a biblical miracle in nature. I am always amazed by God’s creations and how cruel it is to enter this world in the middle of the night with a sloshy plop to a cold barn floor, wet, lifeless, and helpless. My husband initiates the clean-up process of his now slimy, yellowish arms, and with that, has lost all resemblance of a Chip and Dale dancer in any shape or fashion. I proceed to release #715 from the head catch with my mouth open as I give her strong words of encouragement and tell her what a great job she did and congratulations on being a new mom. So, with that, she backs out of the catch and spins in a catlike maneuver to be with her baby, her long black tail wand completely infused with manure, after birth, and blood swinging through the barn’s midnight air flinging a monsoon of juices across my unsuspecting face. I progress to gag, cough, and mumble words that are nonbiblical in nature referencing a dog. Every rancher’s wife knows this is how it goes with cattle. One second you love them and want to be kind, and within an instant, you hate them with every bone in your body. However, the feeling of love will return eventually. I return to the pickup for some warmth, and my husband and I take the short drive back to the house and share a laugh and retell the stories of the comedy of errors that proceeded in our adventure. A bond between a rancher and his wife has been created by the events they have shared on this night. Upon arriving at the house, I make my way to the sink for a 10-minute scrubbing of my all-natural and now dry, crusted facial #715 provided earlier that has soaked into my pores. I am fully aware that any possible health benefits of this all-natural facial would have been negated by the spike in blood pressure the moment it was applied. Finally, back to bed, and as I rest my head onto my pillow and reflect on the nights’ events one last time, I smile and happily doze back to sleep knowing that in the morning it will all seem like a distant dream. But as a rancher’s wife, I will be ready for the call tomorrow, or the next day, whenever I am needed because I am “A RANCHER’S WIFE!
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