By Lee Pitts
“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on,” said Carl Sandburg.
My wife and I couldn’t have kids, so we had thousands of them – lambs, calves, piglets. You name it, we’ve had it.
Although I know a lot about baby lambs and calves, my knowledge of Homo sapien babies is woefully lacking. I’ll never forget the time I was looking at baby diapers in the grocery store, and I saw the diapers arranged in order, such as four to six pounds, six to eight pounds etc. I told my wife, “I had no idea human babies pooped so much!”
I love holding human babies, but I still don’t really know how. I think all babies at birth should be tattooed with humorist Dave Berry’s warning, “Gently lift baby to your shoulder. If you are holding the baby correctly, there should now be vomit on your shoulder. If there is poop, you’re holding the baby upside down.”
I’ll never forget the time I was engaging in one of my favorite activities while stuck in the hospital. I don’t think they do it anymore, but years ago after a mother gave birth to her baby, when she wasn’t feeding it, they’d put the new baby on display. You could look through a window and see all the beautiful babes in pink and blue either sleeping or crying their baby brains out.
One time at the window a proud father joined me and asked, “Which one is yours?”
“Oh, no,” I said. “I’m just window shopping. All my babies are at home.”
“How many do you have?” the father asked while raising an eyebrow and moving away.
“At the moment I think we have 340,” I replied proudly.
The next thing I know the father was pleading with a nurse to get his baby out of there, as if I was going to kidnap it.
I don’t know why we love babies so much, and yet, we don’t look upon the elderly with as much affection. After all, they have so much in common.
They both have no teeth and no hair. They’ll eat anything put in front of them. They require babysitters. They’re always wetting their pants, and they cry all the time. The only downside to human babies is they grow up to be teenagers and have lots of relatives.
While I think human babies are precious and are one of the wonders of this world, I don’t think I’ve seen anything cuter than a newly born Hereford calf hiding in green grass. The only thing cuter is if it’s curled up in snow.
Baby ducks are also very cute, unlike a chicken, which loses its cuteness after one day. I can watch a duck all day. They crack me up for some reason. And if baby lambs don’t bring a smile to your face when they get together, twirl their tails and run helter-skelter all over the place, you truly are a hard-hearted human.
There is a downside to building an emotional bond with a newborn. I’ll never forget one Christmas when my wife and I were supposed to travel three hours away to spend the day with my grandparents.
Before we left, we checked on the cows and found one calf with a terrible case of scours. We threw everything in the book at the calf, trying to save it and had to call my grandparents and tell them we wouldn’t be coming. They were understanding, but terribly disappointed. Later that day, the calf died. My wife went home and took down all the Christmas decorations. It was a very sad Christmas.
That’s what the animal rightists are missing and why they’ve got it all wrong when they talk about stockmen. We aren’t a bunch of cruel and sadistic meanies whipping, hitting and otherwise abusing our livestock.
The animal rightists haven’t seen us trying to warm up a baby calf in our bathtub or a pair of bum lambs on the hearth. PETA doesn’t understand we raise animals because we love them. We love the wonder of nature and all those beautiful babes. And we give these precious babies a life they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I think that’s a winning argument for the preservation of stockmen and their beautiful babes in anyone’s book.