Too early. Only my second sip of coffee. Rub my eyes.
“I think our heifer is calving.”
My wife and I got closer to the window and realized that our day had just changed. There was no mistaking it.
In some ways the timing was perfect. It was Saturday. I didn’t have to struggle with the farm vs. work thing. Sometimes it’s awkward finding the balance between my Structural Therapy practice in town and my farm and family life in the hills. I thanked our heifer for her good timing and went out with my wife and three kids to check out the birth.
She was still in the first stage so everybody went inside to prepare breakfast while I milked our milk cow and kept an eye on the situation. Breakfast was a distracted event. We were mostly looking out the windows, keeping an eye on the progress.
“Is that a hoof?”
We all went out and watched as our heifer walked tight circles and went through contractions. A little hoof would become visible during the contraction and then disappear.
We wanted to give her space but we also wanted to see. The kids had all sorts of questions. I’m glad we got it straightened out that the calf doesn’t come through the urethra.
We ended up separating her from the rest of the herd because our bull was trying to mount her when she was having contractions. A calving heifer doesn’t need to deal with that bull____.
Once in a protected pen (well, almost protected….the horses would periodically have their heads over the top rail to check out what was going on) she started progressing again. The calf’s head and foot appeared during contractions. Even it’s little tongue was sometimes out. After a while, though, it plateaued. It became apparent that the other leg must be stuck. I really didn’t want to interfere. I wasn’t even sure she would let me help. My fears piled up. I’ve never done this before. What if I make it worse instead of better? What if she freaks out and busts through the fence? What if she cow kicks me and busts my knee? What if it’s too late and I find a stillbirth?
Faced with the option of losing both the heifer and calf because I didn’t do anything I mustered up the courage and approached her. I offered a bucket of grain but she could care less about that. She watched me tired and weary as I took hold of the calf’s hoof. The next time she had a contraction I helped pulling at the slightly downward angle the calf would naturally come through. Between the contractions I would let go. She seemed uneasy and even started trying to bust through a section of fencing. I’ve seen cows bust through because of much less so I backed away and left her alone again.
When I came back she was lying down. I knelt down beside her and waited. When she had a contraction I helped. Eventually she stood up and we continued this dance. I didn’t let go; this time keeping contact with the calf at all times and pulling when she had contractions. I connected into the process and she accepted me as part of it. In this way I could really sense the block. I reached in feeling along the side of the calf for its leg and found it. I couldn’t quite free it up so with my other hand I slightly rotated the calf’s body. That was it. The leg came free. The heifer sighed, lay back down, and the next contraction I pulled the calf out into this world by it’s two front hoofs. The sensation of unlocking something when I turned the calf and freed its other leg and the sensation of the calf entering the world wet and steaming on a bed of hay in front of me is too beautiful to really describe.
Mama didn’t waste much time. She got up and was licking her calf moaning the placenta out or moaning in rejoice, I’m not sure which, maybe both.
Your body is amazing. It doesn’t need much help besides maintenance and nourishment. For various reasons we sometimes experience the equivalent of the situation that heifer was in. A leg is stuck and no matter how hard you try or what way you move it is not getting any better. It’s a simple shift that needs to happen and then everything can flow working the way it’s meant to but without that shift it’s not going to get any better. When you get stuck in physical pain seek out good bodywork. The shift that can happen will free you to your own natural health. Sure, sometimes that shift your body needs can take weeks or even months of consistent bodywork, but it’s worth it.
If the calving metaphor is too much try the pebble metaphor….
Suppose you have a pebble in your shoe. You can stop and get it out of your shoe or you can keep on walking to your destination with the pebble. A lot of people convince themselves that it's just a pebble and not worth the trouble of stopping….that they’ll just deal with it when they get to their destination. What happens when your gait starts accommodating the pebble by lessening the weight on the foot with the pebble in the shoe? You arrive at the destination with sore muscles here and there from accommodating the pebble. And if this pebble causes a blister your gait might remain skewed for days even though you eventually dumped the pebble from the shoe. There is a chance that the “said pebble”, that was not worth the time to stop and address, could eventually lead to an injury.
This is not to say we should be paranoid about any discomfort in life but that if there’s a way we can address it we should. And there is a way….
See you in the office.