Animal Angels: Love in the Livestock Pen

Photographing a cow with her young calf convinces a nervous mother-to-be that she shouldn't worry.

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Kelly's photograph of a mother cow and her newborn calf

Whinnies and snorts filled the air in the livestock pen. I made my way around a pile of hay to snap a picture of some horses. My job as an agricultural writer and photographer was physical and demanding—especially during pregnancy.

And this was just the beginning of what was to come. As excited as my husband, Alan, and I were, we didn’t know the first thing about raising a child. I didn’t know how to be a mother, but pretty soon I would have to figure it out.

I went over to a stall that held a big, beautiful cow. When I looked in, I realized she had a little calf standing next to her. That would make a sweet picture. I focused my camera.

“It’s her first calf,” the farmer said as he joined me to admire the new mom. “But she knew just what to do.”

The cow gave her little one a lick on his ear. The calf looked up at his mother with huge brown eyes. I gave my belly a rub, and wondered what color eyes my own baby would have. It was fun to think about. I snapped a picture. Maybe being a mother will come naturally to me too, I thought. Why ruin my pregnancy with worries?

That night after I got home from work, Alan put his head to my stomach and sang a song to the baby. “Being parents is going to be so much fun,” I said, and showed him the photo that changed me.

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