Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Birth of Torito

Last Tuesday night I was in the kitchen helping my host mom, Delia, prepare dinner when our milk cow, tied up right outside the kitchen, was making an awful lot of noise. Delia said the cow was ready to have her baby that night and I should go have a look. I flicked the switch and peaked my head out the kitchen door and around the corner and I saw one big illuminated cow butt 5 feet from my face with two small hoofs just peeking out from under its tale. Holy shit, I was not expecting to see that at all.
We turned the light off and my dad came out with a flashlight to watch the birth. My parents didn’t want to turn the light on because they didn’t want my little sister, sitting inside watching TV, to be aware of the birth and come running out to watch. Delia thought Diahana was too young to watch and would ask too many questions, which she didn’t want to answer. I didn’t necessarily agree with this. She is 10 years old. I think that she is old enough to know about the birds and the bees. At least cows’ birds and bees. Delia herself didn’t even watch, she thought it was gross, even though she has had two children.
The little hoofs popped in and out of sight for awhile and then the mama cow laid down and we knew it was time for business. I stood outside the kitchen with my dad and my uncles in the dark, in the cold, and the silence with only the beam of the flashlight and we watched the new baby cow slowly come into the world. After the hoofs came the tip of the nose and the tongue. Next the whole head appeared. It was all very silent, mama nor baby nor observers made a sound. When the rest of the calf’s body started to appear the mama cow stood up. There she was with half a slimy cow hanging out of her ass. At this point my host dad beckoned for Delia to come take a look. Her eyes almost popped out of her head and she screeched, “Dios Mio.” I can only imagine what a sight it was if you hadn’t watched the whole process. She immediately went back inside.
Then my dad and uncle, Raul, decided it was time to help and they approached the 1 ½ animals and both grabbed either side of the calf and pulled him out of his mom. Then they dropped him and he flopped on to the ground. And so a cow was born! It all happened surprisingly fast. Immediately the mama cow turned around and started licking the baby and didn’t stop licking him for about three hours. The baby was disgusting, not only because he was covered in birthing fluids but because he was born in the mud. The endless licking seemed pretty hopeless to me. The baby was flailing around in the mud, trying to stand up after about 10 minutes of life, and getting itself even muddier.
After the baby was born we called Diahana and let her come out and see the new cow. She was in love with that baby cow at first sight. Although she couldn’t stop staring at the mom’s ass with the umbilical cord hanging out and she kept saying, “how ugly is that cow’s ass”. So maybe she was too young to watch after all. I tried my best to explain what it was but my Spanish was failing me and I’m not sure she got it.
We stood out in the cold for awhile longer and watched the mama and her baby. Most of us went in side to eat dinner when Diahana came running in screaming that something big and round and disgusting had just come out of the cow’s ass. Delia just ignored her. That is a common Paraguayan technique, when you don’t want to answer a question just don’t saw anything at all.
The baby stood up after about an hour and then wandered around the yard like a drunken sailor. It was very cute and very funny. We were all very entertained. T
So, its not every night you get to see a new life enter the world.

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