The first week of spring granted us diverse weather ranging from glinting morning snowflakes falling briefly in the pasture’s morning sun to days warm enough to melt the ice cap of the back pond. The temperatures were perfect to encourage the sweet sugar water of sap to flow generously from the maple trees and we hounded across the creek with our collection buckets in tow, clinking with our stride. Tender baby greens unearthed themselves in the fields with sheep quick to their nipping. Oak buds began to unfurl themselves on the tips of branches, like opening age-old roses. Worms reveled in the moist, unfrozen soil from underfoot. The geese were found necking and whirring their feathers in impressive displays upon the newly melted pond waters, and when the dogs ran free together watching in the distance they could not help but to jump in and join in the celebration of the seasons turning and new life occurring. Glimpses of spring that all had been awaiting hung in the air, lingered in the fields, and enlivened the grey gold fields. It was only a matter of moments before we would be inviting Cicada’s new baby goats to the farm along with the arrival of spring.
There is a song among the pasture when all of the animals know our arms are full of nourishment that is meant for their mouths. It is the chatty hour of the evening that is reminiscent of dawn when the gentle beasts similarly speak out knowing our heads have risen from our pillows for the sole purpose of tending to their bellies. They belted demands for fresh alfalfa and nipped my shirt as I made way to their feeders while some stole sprigs as I walked.
A chill was in the air as dark clouds rolled through the lands sipping up the last moments of sunlight quite quickly. I hustled the hay and water to animals in an attempt to quell their needy song while we were still afforded light. As I noted the turn in atmosphere an earnest roaring bleat rang across the field, perking my ear back towards the barn. It was a serious cry out of typical, known harmony of the hour. “It must be Cicada’s time,” I thought to myself. My arms were full of hay for the bucks across the pasture and I debated whether I ought drop the food at my feet and flee to the barn or if I had time to deliver dinner to the bucks. I rushed to the bucks and bolted back to the barn against the wind and met Cicada in her birth pen where she was found bleating in between vigorous laps of water that had released from her body with her great warning cry.
She wanted each taste which dripped upon the straw. Cicada would alternate lapping the moisture and nesting in nuzzled golden straw. Between the tastes and the lay came a definitive time to remain lowered though there was nothing leisurely about her labor. She bleated amply and forcefully, her belly contracting as she belted. Cicada pressed her knuckled knees and embedded her bottom hoof into the straw, digging for strength as she moaned. Her tongue flapped to the right outside of her mouth where it hung with wild eyes. I praised her strength while palming her cheek for comfort in short smooth strokes. She suckled my thumb and sought residual juices from my fingers and I only hoped it brought her comfort as my heart reached her face through touch and tone.
The force of her hoof was a digging pull from her core which unfurled two creations from womb warmth to world warmth. The breath of spring she harbored was emitted from the flaring nostrils peeking from her very living body. It was an oak bud opening; the baby was a mirror of the world in transition as it journeyed slowly, catching with its girth, from her body. Cicada’s disposition was a force unto itself, filled with a burning yearning of direct intention to fulfill the task of giving life. Her body had been long at work for days cultivating the miracles which lied within. Each bleat of ardent intensity was an echo of life, of transition, of moments spiraling anew, while readied life stirred still deep in her belly. Cicada’s brow furrowed with tired strength but sustained vigor to follow through on her lively duty.
Days leading up to her moments of life pushing I would feel for tender or stone ligaments just before the outward flicker of her tail. My fingers would search for indications of how many days may be left before her great pressing. My hands would rest on the soft side divot curves of her belly. With kids womb roving under my palms my hands wondered, “How many hearts beat below my tips?”
With her warm breath bleating a fog forward into the hand upon her cheek my tips knew this was the time those curious moments would reveal themselves with each generous push, with each dig of the hoof into straw. I submitted happily to each fluid, to the shared company of her earthy bed of straw, and felt the joy which came along with witnessing her birth and seeing her through in a time of need. I was aware that her strong animal body would likely not need me at all but I was soulfully happy to provide any assistance at all from kindness in tone or a thumb to suck.
After she labored gratuitously the first baby remained sustained in space. Soft hooves were pointed and ready, showing. Nesting atop the pale white hooves was the baby’s nose of nostrils gently flaring with its tongue pressed outside of the mouth much like his mother’s as she pushed heartily. The cusp of his eyes were still hidden and shelled from within her. It was determined that the child within was of great size and her laboring efforts may benefit from assistance for the amount of time she had been wearily pushing. We positioned her birthing body forward towards us in the bed of straw for ease of access to help pull the kid. Her generous mucous allowed for fingers to slip near the pointed nose and hooves to pull alongside her push to fully release the kid from the great womb to the great world.
What had just been peeking was now fully unearthed from her body and before us was this beautiful slippery buck enveloped in a coat created from within his mother. We wiped the buck’s nose to invite full breath and Cicada began to lick in as dedicated a fashion as she previously lapped her straw bed. She murmured a bleat just for him and he made incantations back towards her, and so flowed the beginning of their pastured song. He came into the world speckled with dark spots and one prime black freckle on the tip of his nose. A dark line followed the curvature of his lip traveling upward in reach of his cheek and so he was born with an embedded smile which we amorously reflected back towards him as we welcomed him and held him to our hearts while drying the newborn buck.
There was still life rousing and rumbling within Cicada which caused her to pause in her pursuit of fully cleansing her first born with her tongue. She fell again to her pleasant nest and with fervid force hoofed heartily into the straw. Unlike the clear, thin membrane encapsulating her first born, her second baby began to show in a thick, veined sac. My fingers caught hold of the pointed hooves and nose and pulled again alongside her vehement presses to release the life within. The baby slipped out into my hands completely enveloped in a reddened marble of fluid and membrane. I pierced the amniotic marbled sac with my fingernails to quickly wipe the nose of the baby, inviting a great breath of life. She breathed and sneezed while Cicada hummed a unique tune to her new little girl as she licked her new baby with pride. Cicada’s bleats became gentle and subsided towards a more soothing and contented tone. Our cooing was a welcoming tune among the oaks which carried lovingly into the spring air and fell before the new little family ambling about in the soft bed of straw.
Cicada’s little doe was not speckled like her brother. Instead, she came to us as a smooth pale honey with a dorsal stripe like a fine braid of darkened autumnal straw which followed down her tail. Her blue eyes rang bright against her golden grey body which held the tone of the half-life winter-spring fields. Her nose sloped gently downward with her face, too, clad with a simple smirk. Her ears hung slightly downward and velveteen in need of more colostrum and lively moments before rising to flower their full perk upward.
With Cicada’s placenta beginning to pass so did the hubbub of the new birthing mother. Some went into the house to finish dinner, others carried on with chores or settled into their evening routines, and I just remained in her fair straw bed of life lingering in the moments that just passed and enthralled in the moments that continued to be. My hands were removed from the kids and I was pleased to simply sit quietly among her and witness her life as a mother.
Cicada’s spotted and honey babies only needed to be introduced to her teats a few times before hunkering down on their front knees to nip at a taste of their mother’s life building, nutrient dense colostrum. I sat near them with eyes invigorated and warm from the grace of life which surrounded me. I reflected on the two hooves that first had shown themselves, the tiny tongue limp, the flaring nostrils, the baby born in marbled fluid, and the soaking wet fur that would soon show itself as soft and distances away from grown coarseness which comes with age.
I recalled Cicada’s warning cry that our horizon of life was soon to change with the addition of two more lively spirited creatures. With the skies completely darkened I could hear the pasture of animals had changed their song which came with satiated appetites as the evening closed in – the silence of a gratified field. Cicada chirped to her newborns and as they ambled about necking one another in celebration outside of the womb they echoed back to her. I whispered my own welcoming chimes and then fell silent as I watched, completely enamored with the joys which come with living, and witnessing the miracle of life, my first birth, occur before me.