How could eighty acres be ten miles long? Technically, Gary didn’t think it really was, but plodding through the mud and muck the rain had left--it felt even further.
With each step, his rubber boots made sucking sounds and were almost left behind several times. 'Phew, what a day', and it wasn’t even noon.
The humidity felt like a hundred as the sun steamed the grass as it grew. 'Spring in Missouri', Gary shook his head, sighing. Bessie was supposed to calve three days ago. 'Seems a man could see a thousand pound black and white cow that appears ready to pop, barn-size, without having to walk through all this muck.' …but, no, Bessie liked to hide in the only wooded area on the place—the back corner. The mud pulled incessantly on his boots, sinking,he pulled his leg up fast, spraying mud onto his face and into his mouth. “Dag nabit old cow,” wiping his face he looks up and sees Trigger, his old paint gelding off by himself like a sentinel over a deserted camp--he looked half asleep. Trigger’s drooping nose hung almost to the ground where Gary now saw a small calf looking around. Half hidden in the woods Bessie is chewing her cud, seemingly content with her babysitter.
"Ain’t that somethin’." Gary watches for several minutes, intrigued that the momma cow would trust the horse with her newborn. 'Won’t see that again', wishing he had his camera, 'good ole boy'. Gary leaves Trigger with his charge and plods back across the pasture, noting he needs to take Trigger off the lush green grass soon; his belly was swollen like a tick.
Back at the house, exhausted, Gary falls asleep on the couch, waking with a start, it’s almost dark. Throwing on his muddy boots he heads for the door. 'Better make sure that baby drinks from the right Momma', laughing imagining old Trigger and that calf, knowing Trigger wouldn’t hurt a fly—the ol’ Guardian, self appointed of the field.
The spring breeze felt good as Gary slopped back toward the woods. He sees Trigger lying close to where the calf was born, his neck stretched out; the new calf just in front of his nose. Walking up slowly, Gary sees Triggers belly is really swollen now. Trigger opens one eye and sighs: the calf leaps up and goes off bucking and playing to his Mom.
Squatting down, Gary almost steps on a stick. Reaching down to toss it out of the way, he leaps back--a copperhead--not five feet from the old horse, about where the calf was lying that morning.
Gary looks at the snake and an indentation where its head should be in the shape of a hoof.
Running for the house, out of breath, Gary calls the vet and runs back to check on Trigger, the vet on the way. Trigger is still stretched out, the little calf pushing at his neck. Trigger doesn’t move. Knowing in his heart it’s too late, Gary watches from a few feet away, crying, but then Trigger moves. He raises his head enough to nudge the calf back toward its Momma; on wobbly legs it walks away.
Gary prays for the vet to arrive soon then looking up, pleads for his buddy, “Help him, please…”
Talking softly, Gary sits down beside his old friend,“Easy boy, you did good.” Gently he puts Trigger’s head in his lap, all the while rubbing the old horses’ neck, tears line his dirty face. He whispers , ”you’ll be a good Guardian Angel. You saved that little calf. He’ll be fine. His Momma will raise him now, but you know we will miss you if you go, but we understand. God needs good angels, but hang on if you can.”
Trigger knickers softly, his eyes close--his body shudders, his last breath. Gary’s tears fall on Trigger’s head.
“I’m sorry Fella. I shoulda checked you this morning. You looked so content watching that calf I didn’t want to bother ya. “
“God, you got yourself the best Guardian Angel, guess you know that though.”
“If you could send the ol’ boy back to watch over us: we could sure use the help. I did a poor job of it today. That’s why I still need him Lord. Angel or horse, he always made us feel safe. He’s been our Guardian for some time. I guess maybe he still is, except now he has wings.”
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