"Truffles is having her baby! I can see the head!" My sister Julia calls, darting back and forth.
Karly and I exchange glances. We sprint to the pen. Anthony is pointing with exciting and saying the word he thinks means goats but sounds nothing like it. Before the sun peered over the California foothills, Cookie had her baby and kept her in the corner of the pallet stanchion. The baby is beautiful and the red-brown of beautiful rust. We call her Crumb, a small piece of Cookie.
In the age of cell phones, I feel lucky that my father answers his on the first ring. He is coming and not fast enough as Truffles brays, unable to move the baby on her own. My father is no stranger to this circle of life. He has midwifed countless animals and even humans. We need him here and fast. Karly and I pace and in the corner of our eyes we see a corpse. White and hairless, we find the half formed kid of Cookie.
My father arrives and assesses the situation with his careful eye.
"I did it for your sister," he says with a shrug. It's one of my earliest memories, seeing him assist at the birth of my sister when the midwife was slower than Sierra. He calls himself Jim-Can-Do and he has never failed. He moves down behind Truffles and starts to ease the stillborn out of her. The baby is stuck squarely at its shoulder and as he pulls her free Truffles screams. It hurts my heart to see the little thing, black as death, unmoving and chanceless. Truffles tries to stand and her legs give out beneath her. We're not sure how long she was in labor, but judging by the tremble of her legs and the weakness in her bray it has been hours. We make our way out of the pen carrying the bodies. Truffles is near collapsing when her body shakes with contraction and a second baby is born.
I find myself holding Anthony extra tight that evening as I point to the baby goats. He wants nothing more than to wrap his arms around them and offer him the soft kisses he has recently learned how to give. I want nothing more than to be here, with these people in this corner of the earth. It may not be perfect, but it's mine.