We have a large field in front of Ranchero Musselwhite here in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Now before I describe it and its occupants, a note about the name of our village: The name is not a mistake. “The Moons,” as you Spanish scholars would cry, should be “Las Lunas.” You are correct.
Our village is not named after some poetic rendering of lunar property. It is named for the Lunas family, a fine group of folks whose descendants still make a positive contribution to our little and growing community.
Whew, glad I could clear that up!
Now back to our alfalfa field.
Recently three, then four, horses were delivered to our field. I love horses and miss my Berry College equestrian companion, Geronimo, very much. Geronimo lives above Rome, where he serves as a companion horse for kids with disabilities and veterans with PTSD. I am proud of my noble boy.
It was with great joy that I watched the horses romp and enjoy the eight open acres and, although they weren’t prime livestock, I welcomed their nearby presence.
I walked down the dirt road by their pasture and attempted to lure them for a few kind words and a gentle pet, but alas, they were completely uninterested in what I was selling.
One morning we awoke and the horses were gone. The owner transferred them to a horse concern down near the horse center called Ruidoso, near the Texas border. Oh well.
I guess the fellow works at night, for a week or so later I went to the kitchen to fix morning coffee and motion out the front windows caught my attention.
Greeting me in the morning light were approximately 30 sheep, three cows, and a Shetland pony. (I know. Sounds like a bar story, right?)
So now I have new entertainment. The Shetland pony wants absolutely nothing to do with me. I even took him a carrot and he would not be lured to the fence. I even broke off a few chunks and tossed them to the boy. He scarfed them up and walked away without so much as a howdy-do. Fine.
The three cows are another matter. They come right up to the fence and seem to relish my scratching the tops of their heads. Those big brown eyes look right up with a gentle greeting. Not like their cousin, Crappy The Shetland Pony.
The sheep hang together like members of a VFW convention in a hotel lobby. There is a pecking order, with one huge creature who wears a bell (sheep bell?) around her neck. They roam the field grazing or hide out from the New Mexico sun under a stock trailer parked for that very purpose.
All was fine until about a week ago. Another calf (again, in the middle of the night? When does this guy show up?) appeared in the pasture, and he most naturally allied himself with the three calves already in residence.
The original three were of the Jersey variety, and the newbie was a member of the Angus tribe. The fellow was unhappy from the start. He bawled constantly and would often quarantine (see what I did there?) from his cohorts and present the most forlorn image a cowboy could imagine.
Then the strangest thing happened. One member of the bovine trio started interacting with the lonely one. She would go up behind the crying one and sometimes not so lovingly nudge the distressed one in the flank. She would keep up the nudges until the crying one eventually would join the trio.
This went on for a few days. I don’t know if the calf had been separated from its mother, or what pasture drama revealed, but the home cow would not give up on the new one. She would escort the crying one to the water trough every evening and I would watch close up as the three Jersey Girls would surround and seemingly comfort the crying one.
It’s been over a week now, and the crying has almost stopped. I am looking out the window and all four are down taking a nap in the warm morning sun. The three from the Jersey clan surround the Angus and this pastoral scene reminds me of Randall Thompson’s great choral work, “A Peaceable Kingdom.”
We are currently such a fragmented society. Thugs screaming at health care workers, Senators screaming at Representatives, and grandmothers and grandfathers dying by the thousands.
Could we just go to a crying member of a different clan and offer comfort, a bit of warmth, and perchance some joy? A loving nudge at the water trough?
In the meantime, I’ll just gaze out my front window and watch some bovine therapy. Stay safe. Stay sane.