Making a clean breast

A tree-creeper clings to the vertical oak stanchions of the bridge uniting the roundhouse with the bunkhouse. It is tiny with a pale breast flecked with brown. As I approach and then halt delighted, it flits to a second post and starts its staccato passage upwards before fluttering away into the day.
I am back from one of several visits to the pen holding mother and calf. In the morning he dozes in the hay, later wanders about the pen looking slightly dazed. At another point he ambles towards the bars to check me out before Abbie intercedes, interposing herself between her baby and the dangerous-looking Nog standing beside me; she growls a warning and shakes her horns. I see no sign of interest in feeding, meaning a) he has no interest in feeding or b) that he has fed to fullness. The latter is good: the former bad, but it does happen. Perhaps the birth has exhausted the baby’s will to life or some genetic circuitry fails to connect the swinging tit with the hollow feeling in the stomach, but it means alot of frustrating work with an uncertain outcome.
Not this time though. I don’t see him feed yet, but Abbie’s two teats on the left side are small and clean; there is damp matted hair alongside. Little man knows the way, how much he has sucked I still don’t know. Only at my final visit after dark do I see his legs rightangled to his mother’s belly. Standing silently in the dark, reluctant to disturb the pair, I make out the rhythmical supping telling me of rivers of life flowing down one small throat.


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