notes from maggie's farm
Late Thursday morning, Molly greeted me eagerly with what looked to be one of her precious 'finds' in her mouth. On those occasions when she's managed to find a hole in the fence, and gone on her mysterious overnight walkabouts, she'd managed to proudly accrue and present for our pleasure an old purse, bones so large I'd swear there's a body out there, a less than fully decomposed cat carcass (thank you, Molly. Really, you didn't have to.), a fish head, deer antlers, t-shirts, steak seasoning, a scrub brush, several stuffed incarnations of Woody, from the movie Toy Story, a jar of peanut butter, and one, pristine, unopened, bag of pork rinds. Of which she was the most proud.
We struggle, as proper pet parents should, to keep her within the confines of our own rural property. And all day long, she's compliant. It's only occasionally that her will to wander is greater than her desire to behave. Abandoned properties, and their remains of a livelier time, beckon in the night. They are ripe for the scavenging, a veritable gold mine of discards, and on occasion, the call is unrelenting. A dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do. As long as she's not caught.
Now lest you think we're totally thick and unaware, this did not come as a complete surprise. Days before, evidence of expectancy had become apparent. Her body had taken on certain maternal qualities. She had excavated a hole large enough to hunker her lanky body into so that all you saw from the front windows was her big smiling head. She was clearly organizing her surroundings for something. It could have been that she was readying herself for the end times. She listens to the local station that blares from speakers of a home faraway You never know what dogs might pick up from the media. Perhaps she was planning to stock her larder for days of certain doom.
Or it could have been, just maybe, that Molly was preparing for a special arrival.
Standby. That's all they need. The lessons I've learned on this farm are that nature knows what to do. And in all of my well-meaning, book-studying, internet-researching, discussion board-consulting ways, I really do not. My job is to be on standby. Monitor for signs of stress. Don't touch anything. Don't interrupt. Take pictures unobtrusively, if I must. Stay calm. Offer few, quiet words of encouragement. Let nature take it's course.
So, yes, I freaked a little at seeing this little limp bundle of fur in Molly's mouth. And, yes, I ignored my own wisdom just set forth and tried as I might to encourage Molly to 'drop it' into my hand. And no, there was nothing doing. But she would accompany me back to her 'birthing pit', where I left her to tend to what had to be a puppy just minutes old. It amazes me still that she knows to lick the puppy's face first, to sever the cord, to remove the cloak of birth, to gently nudge it to her body, to understand how to nurse, to await the next arrival. I gave her head a gentle and reassuring pat. I beamed. I marveled at the intelligence of our natural world. This is no mere coincidence. This does not occur as a result of chaos. I am overcome with awe by the detail God has put into each and every creature.
Because if you question your belief in God, maybe you ought to have some puppies.
As for mentioning God. Yeah. I did that.