But miracles have a way of happening on the farm. After two years of barrenness--and having reached the ripe age of ten--our vet announced that Girlfriend was pregnant. We were jubilant. A few months later she gave birth to a handsome red calf with a white patterned face. Like her previous calf, it was a male. That disappointed us a bit because we figured it would surely be Girlfriend's last calf, with no cattle on the ranch to carry forward her noble lineage.
Then Girlfriend amazed us by coming up pregnant again the following year. When she looked ready to calve, we kept her under close watch, checking her several times daily. One morning she had disappeared into the brush. She'd gone off to find a quiet, private place to give birth, something she knew well how to do. Nicolette put on a long sleeved shirt and anxiously began patrolling the large pasture, fighting her way through 10-feet-high patches of poison oak, worried that the old girl might have difficulty calving. But when she finally discovered the cow, she was calmly standing and chewing her cud, as is her habit. At her side was a beautiful calf who looked nearly identical to her, only in miniature. It was black-bodied with black and white markings like her mother's on her face. Nicolette cautiously approached and discovered, with great joy, that the calf was a female.
This pleased us enormously. Bill had recently left Niman Ranch, Inc. and, as part of the separation, had lost the cattle herd he'd spent decades developing. There were protracted negotiations to buy the herd back from the company, but they fell through. We ended up buying just two animals--Girlfriend and an orphan steer who had also made a special place in our hearts. In other words, two animals that were unlikely to ever have any offspring. So Eve was our great hope for the future. A healthy, beautiful calf, we saw her as the foundation of our new herd and our new life. It never occurred to us that just two years later she would predecease her aging mother.
Over those two years as we rebuilt our cattle herd to about one hundred cows, we watched Eve grow and mature. Like her mother, she was always strong, healthy, and had a remarkably calm and friendly demeanor. If you walked through a pasture that Eve was grazing as a calf, she never failed to trot over and nuzzle your hand to be petted. As she got a bit older she lost some of her friskiness but none of her sweetness. She'd amble over to get her face scratched whenever either of us were near. Eve was photographed for the New York Times and several other publications because she always made fast friends with visiting photographers. A few months ago, Bill remarked: "I think Eve is the sweetest cow we've ever had." In September, she gave birth, without difficulty, to her first calf. Like her mother, she took exceptionally good care of her young one. We took a special pleasure in knowing that this was Girlfriend's granddaughter, and we hoped she would inherit her mother and grandmother's many admirable qualities.