I had been invited to join an excavation at a Folsom site, The Black Mountain Site, elevation 10,600 feet, outside Creede, Colorado. Pegi J. of the Smithsonian Institution, the Principle Investigator, planned to do her PhD dissertation on this site.
A cowboy rode into our dig site and asked Pegi to keep all “dig dogs” in camp the next day as he and others were moving 200 head of cattle through the field below us.
“Dogs could bother the cattle or get injured,” he said.
The dig was on a narrow ridge above a fast moving Creek. The land below the dig to the east was a flat open field and contained the headwaters for the Rio Grande River we were told.
The day after the herd moved through I heard the awful, plaintive bellow of a cow. She was about 200 feet from where I was digging and though I was in a huge ‘weather-port’ I could hear-sense her distress.
She stayed in one spot and bellowed constantly for 3 days. I dug and worried.
I saw a cowboy riding by her going down the slope towards the Creek to the north of the data recovery area. I ran down to him and I asked him about the cow and her awful, constant bellowing.
“She is calling to her calf,” he told me.
The calf nearly drowned in the fast moving Creek they had forded on their way to greener pastures.
The cowboy had been going to the calf daily to medicate it.
“They get pneumonia especially at this altitude, you know,” he explained.
He thought the calf was going to be ok.
The next day I saw the cowboy coming up from the Creek with the calf slung over the front of the saddle.
The cowboy got out of saddle, lifted the calf down and slowly walked a very shaky calf to momma.
Momma nudged and licked the calf; it nursed a bit; then they turned and silently started a slow, unsteady trek across the field toward the rest of the herd.
I do believe the sound of silence was an indication of pure joy!