The Cattle Are Lowing

We’d waited since February for her to calf. By November 20th, all eyes stayed on mama cow - Trahlyta. Her due date was close and we were more than ready. The waiting wrung our patience. 

October was wet and boggy and Trahlyta looked sick. We discovered rotting flesh in her foot. Foot rot set in from standing on soggy ground day after day. George and the children tended to her around the clock as they cleaned out oozing infected sore and cared for her hooves. We’ve had her since she was a few days old. The children raised her. She’s part of our family. And, she’s our first cow to calf. She held the keys to our own dairy supply and to our tender hearts as we watched her stay under the weather. All we could do was wait and make sure she stayed healthy and it wasn’t as easy as we expected. But now, her hooves were healthy and her belly was swollen and we were waiting. 

On the morning of the 24th, I rushed to the window at the first day light. Down by the creek, I saw Trahlyta and a red calf standing together. The day was here. The calf was here. The calf was tiny and weak and wouldn’t nurse. 

Suddenly, I wanted to go back to the waiting. That was easier than watching the calf grow weak and stumble about unable to nurse. George and Amelia and George Wilder worked to get the calf to cling to an udder, but he wouldn’t. They rushed off to Tractor Supply to purchase a bottle and a bag of colostrum and back again to try a bottle. Why didn’t we prepare ahead of time? We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know what was coming. 

Amelia gave him the bottle and he took it. We rushed out the next morning to see if he had made it through the night. He was there alive and weak. But she kept working with him and Trahlyta and the calf that day. And the next. There was some wrangling between children and mama cow and calf, but the calf got the hang of it and by day three, he came skipping out of the barn, curious and flighty. Hannah said his name should be Oliver.

I stood in the door of the barn watching Oliver suck mightily. Trahlyta lowed over him with soft guttural mama sounds. Soothing sounds. Careful noises. Instinctual melodies sounds a creator formulated to bring peace even in a lowly stable. And in that very instant, I knew there was no mistake that the Christ child was born in a barn. Where dust and hay and piles of poop litter the floor. The king of the world birthed in a dark stable. A most holy place. A place where daily, life and death collide. Where a giant beast gently sings to her young calf.  Very little light breaks through, but in the places where it does, we can see the miracle before us as Oliver nuzzles near his mother. Shepherds would understand the holiness found here. Glory to the new born King. 

The waiting for Christmas is grinding and exciting. We pull out Christmas and place it in the places that CHristmas goes. We bake and share the baking and eat one extra because the flavors are more than just delight, they are memory. We make sure to get all the right gifts, and we plan to be with the people we love the most. We light candles and sing. We have calendars and chains to count down the days. The day arrives and we explode. The crescendo! Gifts around the tree. 

By noon, we want to return to the waiting. The waiting, suddenly, is less messy, less involved. The what was is easier. We want to go back to the  waiting because the finale left us with something that actually needs feeding and nourishment and love and patience and time and energy and hope and a future and a continued sense of purpose. 

This year, as we sing of hope and joy and the arrival of our savior, take the savior with you. The fragile baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger is alive and well and has come out of the barn.


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