Whatever you believe, this time of year holds the promise of new life. On the farm, that’s particularly poignant as we have just started calving. The Easter message feels particularly real.
What does calving entail? Constant feeding, bedding, mucking out and monitoring of the cows, looking to see which ones are getting closer. Their udders get larger and the ligaments at the back end slacken as they gear up to give birth: it constantly amazes me what hormones can do. Then we watch for the bag of fluid that has surrounded the calf in the uterus for nine months, cushioning it like a balloon, to appear at the vulva, and hopefully two little feet to follow as the calf dives into the outside world like superman.
Lambing, calving and farrowing are strange times on the farm. We enter a bubble of emotional extremes: the highs of wet, wobbly fresh life happily suckling and bounding around; and sometimes the lows of sheer exhaustion, difficult birthing and even death…
Farmer Rob does not look very seasonally-rejuvenated with all the nocturnal checks and constant care.
Neither does his wife (me). The ‘sick bug’ came home from school with the children! After the total number of vomits reached double figures and the clock showed four am I stopped counting as I went from one poor puking child to the other. I am however aware that the six loads of washing that have been processed so far today are possibly too many for the septic tank, our sewage treatment system. Being in the sticks we are not connected to mains drainage and have to deal with all our own waste, but too much water will not help the anaerobic bacteria that break it down.
We are however still smiling: the sun is shining, all the calves to date are live and bonny and at least the children are not scoffing all their Easter chocolate in one go as their tummies are still tender!