Kathy Bassett: Animal kingdom offers life lessons

Kathy Bassett

Kathy Bassett's column, "The View from Maybell," appears in the Saturday Morning Press.

— What can be cuter than a little baby something? Funny how sometimes ugly babies grow up to be beautiful and sometimes beautiful babies grow up to be ugly, if not in looks, then in personalities.

Same as people.

The other day, my friend, Tom, from Denver, came by just as we were starting the chores. Tom had quite an adventure helping feed the cows and checking on the new baby calves.

He just jumped right up on the truck and started helping John unroll those big round bales off while I drove. When we finished feeding, we went to check out a calf that didn’t come in with his mother.

It was a nasty day, spitting snow and gusting winds. We finally found the little critter, bedded down in a ditch. Of course, I immediately wanted to get him out and take him home with me. But John told me “no ... the mother knows exactly where her baby is and she’ll come and get it up out of the ditch and she only put him there to get him out of the wind.”

By the time we finished up all the chores, the snow was getting thicker and things were turning white. I was just beside myself. I thought it was a pretty deep ditch and couldn’t figure out how a cow was going to get the calf out.

I teased John and asked him if I could take a blanket down and cover up the baby. He laughed and said that he would come back later that afternoon and check to see if the momma cow did what she was supposed to do and if not, he would then get the baby out of the ditch.

Well, momma cow did exactly what John said she’d do. Tom and I watched her go down and get her baby out of the ditch and bring it on up closer to the house into the brush, and boy did I feel better. It is amazing how smart animals are.

Well, most of them.

I remember back when the girls were pretty young and we went into the rabbit business.

We bought 500 rabbits. They were all white. I couldn’t figure out how a person could keep track of 500 white rabbits and know who was who.

I asked John, “When you have a couple hundred head of black cows how in the world do you know who is who and which is which?”

He just smiled and said, “They all have their personalities.”

He is right.

Thinking back again on those rabbits, it really didn’t take long until we knew Gertrude from Brenda and Molly from Mildred, and even when some of those wascilly wabbits ate the identification and breeding record tickets off their cages, it wasn’t really a job making out new ones, because we’d learned who was who.

We soon learned who the good mommies were and the bad mommies, too.

So one frosty morning, my little one, Janey, who was 4, and I were out getting the rabbit chores done. We discovered that one of the bad mommies had a whole slug of babies in the night and she didn’t make a nest of cover for them or nothing like a good mommy would do.

So here lay all these little teensy babies, cold and not a whole lot of movement.

We gathered them all up and took them in the house, where I turned the stove on warm, opened the oven door, spread out a towel and we laid all the babies there hoping to save them.

Little Janey got down on her knees, put her elbows on the oven door, with her hands up holding her chin and just stared at the babies for about an hour.

She was searching hard for any sign of movement. Finally, she turned to me and said “Mommy! I know what would make these babies all well again!”

I asked her what that might be, and she replied, “Let’s give them some baby wabbit aspirins!”

Needless to say, we didn’t have any baby wabbit aspirins so the little critters didn’t make it, much to Janey’s sorrow. We got rid of that mommy.

Yeppers, a person can learn a whole heap of life’s lessons just by watching the animals and how they do things. It is an awesome experience.

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