Spring: Time for new life and gratitude

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By JUDITH SUTHERLAND

Farm and Dairy columnist

With the birth of a beautiful Haflinger colt, the farm is coming alive again. This sturdy little fellow arrived on his own time, though Doug had been staying close to the mare in case assistance might be needed.

He came in the house to eat a quick bite of supper one recent evening, then headed back to the barn to continue his quiet watchfulness. In no time, I heard the excitement in his voice as he called me to the barn.

Birth

The long-legged colt was standing on wobbly footing when he walked into the barn, the mare calm and quiet as she let us fawn all over the new arrival.

As I snapped pictures, the still-wet foal began nuzzling and searching for milk while the mare began licking the newborn dry.

As a life-long farmer, I have seen many births or arrived in the barn just moments after a birth, but it never fails to amaze.

Privacy

Horses often wish to be left alone in the birthing process. A friend who had farmed with horses for many years told me this, saying he was determined to witness the birth of one of his prized draft colts.

One evening, sensing the birth was imminent, he made a quick walk into the house to ask his wife to bring him a sandwich, as he hastily gathered what he needed to spend the entire night near the mare. Only minutes later, he returned to the barn and the foal had arrived.

The next year, he installed a camera in the birthing stall, something that was so new at that time we had never heard of such a thing. As he watched from the house, the mare turned her face closely to the camera, completely obliterating the camera view, while she delivered a filly.

“I give up!” Bill said with a laugh.

First run

With the weather turning warm here for one brief day last week, Doug led the mare out to our greening pasture behind the house, the colt stepping high to keep close to his mama.

It is always such a joy to watch that first run, those long, thin legs proving to be more powerful than one would imagine. A brave little guy, he didn’t want to stop, adding a quick little kick now and then as he made a turn before allowing himself to be reined back in by the whinny of the mare.

I could stand at the fence and watch this production all evening long. As Doug bedded down the run-in shed we built a couple of years ago with fresh straw for a napping place, I asked him if he had decided on a name for the showy little colt.

“Stiletto,” he called back to me. The colt comes from impressively high-stepping lineage, his father,  Standard of Excellence, so the name seems fitting.

Changes

As I walk the line fence, I notice how wonderfully green everything suddenly seems, the trees overhead finally beginning to bud out, the earliest and heartiest song birds returning. It has seemed like an endlessly long winter filled with continuous gray drabness.

It is this extreme changing of the seasons that provides us with the determination to push through to spring each year. It arrives like a gift, one for which we are always grateful.

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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