Tuesday, September 2, 2008

13 piglets & a brand new cow!

"Our state fair is a great state fair,
Don't miss it, don't even be late.
It's dollars to donuts
That our state fair
Is the best state fair in our state.
-"State Fair"; Rogers & Hammerstein

it's true though... proof? um, how 'bout FRIED PB&J?!?!
have you EVER????

yeah. it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, dipped in batter and deep fried right before our eyes... and THEN they asked us if we wanted "anything on it"... WHAT?! like what? lipitor? an angioplasty? turns out some people opt for chocolate sauce... that just seemed... well, let's be honest, we WERE eating a fried pb& j... yeah, throw on some powdered sugar.

as it turns out, it was only good for a few bites; then it was too dry and too "mwack, mwack" (that's the sound of me trying to chew and swallow dry, warm peanut butter".

so, we have been going to the Maryland State Fair for years (AJ's always worked for non-profits and always ends up with these free passes the state gives to "good people"); and we always watch the pig races, visit the petting zoo,

and see sweet things like this alpaca (i want one... imagine all the yarn!)

and this sweet donkey with his long eyelashes and black eyeliner; and then we walk through the livestock "viewing" show area (until i get too sad realizing they are parading around to be sold to be turned into meat...) AND, i always get a corn dog. (hypocrisy? yes). Those who know me, know i L-O-V-E pigs. love 'em. so we'll start there...

pig racing.
these little piggies race around the track, to win... an oreo. oh, it's fantastic!

so, that's pretty great, but check this out...SWIFTY; swifty is a little pot bellied pig who swims. SHE SWIMS!
(after she swims you can take a picture with her for $5. i was giddy inside thinking about the possibility of that, and before i could convince myself that that was a "waste of money", my dear AJ said "honey, i will GLADLY pay $5 so you can have your picture taken with swifty". yep. and i did. actually WE did. i'll have to scan it so you can see it. we might use it for our christmas card, it's that good)

after the pig related excitement, we needed to "take it down a notch" and headed over to the agriculture pavilion, where we got to check these out...

awesome, right? then we bought honey sticks, which i always thought might be gross, because i don't REALLY like honey, but the flavored ones were pretty tasty. and THEN our lives changed forever.
we ran into some friends who, knowing my love of the porcine, said "did you see the baby pigs?" (yes, we just watched the race!), "no, the piglets in the birthing center... they were just born tis morning!" (WHAT?!?!). yeah, they have a pavillion where things are born.

so, we rushed over to find it and walk into this place and there's cows everywhere and this row of holsteins.. signs above each one saying "2 years old", "1 year old", "6 months old", "1 month old", "1 DAY OLD!!!".

a day!
look at that little cow. sooooo CUTE. AND SHINY!!!

there was also an incubator with newly hatched ducklings and even cuter, an incubator with EGGS, which turned INTO an incubator with egg SHELLS and teeny, tiny, wet little chicks in it, in a matter of minutes. THEN we saw the piglets. oh my gawd the piglets. OH T H E P I G L E T S!!!

thirteen of them, born between 9:30 and 11:30 that morning... these little red pork-itos are only 6 hours old.

and of course, there were two that especially reminded us of sweet mason.

so, that's how it started. we're watching these little piglets, totally freaking out about their tininess and the fact that there are little chicks and little ducks just a few feet away, when i hear a speaker-voice saying things like "placenta", "calfing", "water breaks"... and i say, "is there like a cow having a baby over there or something" (very eloquent... i'm always really eloquent at the state fair). so we go on the other side of these bleachers to check it out and yes... yes there was.

this is cow #2539 (or something like that), but AJ and i later named her Eloise because it just seemed right to be on a first name basis when you spend THAT kind of time with an animal. The guy speaking into the microphone told the audience that this heifer's water had broken about an hour ago, which meant she could give birth anytime now (between 2 and 12 hours after the water breaks)... he also told us that we could stay ALL night if we wanted to, because the state fair as an agreement with the birthing center, and if there is an animal in labor you don't have to leave when the fair closes. hot damn! now, this was Eloise's first calf, so she was likely to freak out a little (he warned us) and it might take longer. well, we sat tight. we followed her through all the wide eyed, straight tailed, still bodied contractions; watched some sort of other liquid make a big splash (not pee... not "the water") and when she got up and moved around the pen, we watched with our eyes (some other idiots kept getting up and blocking the view of people who had been sitting in one spot the whole time, letting their kids go right up to the fence and poke her, despite verbal abuse from the crowd and repeated warnings from the staff), and finally, she settled on our side of the pen and laid down... the start of things.

this is the sweet little hoof of a calf... the first part to come out. (just to be fair, i should tell you that the hoof came out a couple times, and then, well, went back in... we were told this was also normal, especially with the first timers; and she got up and moved to the center of the pen for the final hoof appearance).
shortly thereafter, we got another hoof and a nose...

then the whole head and legs, then the torso, then in one fell swoop, the rest of the baby.
and oh, then she just licked her and licked her and licked her... i'm talkin' hours of licking. too sweet.

we watched as baby tried to get up and walk around (it wasn't happening for baby... but she tried really hard). and then the staff asked the onlookers for questions. a kid in the crowd asked what the baby's name was, which led to a "what should her name be" audience participation segment. the nominated names were pretty weak, i must say ( i mean COME ON! we JUST saw this little thing be born... we owe her a good name): haley (a lovely name, but obviously the mother's urging the child to say it's own name, and that kind of weird displacement of parental needs is just awkward), fairy girl (like "fair", like state fair), daisy (such a cliche cow name) and some other "eh" ones... i think princess was one too. Then, this totally unexpected boy stands up and says, how about (no joke) "peppercorn". well, in another sad bit of proof that elections in this country just plain don't work, i cheered (and i wasn't alone) louder for Peppercorn than anyone else combined cheered for any other name... but they chose Princess. Well, "Princess" as she might be known to you guys, was NOT the calf i elected... the calf i helped birth (through good vibes and moral support) was DEFINITELY named Peppercorn

we went to get some snacks, and then came back and sat in front of the pen they moved Eloise and Peppercorn to, and watched her get her first bottle (mom had to be milked) and then stand and walk for the first time. It was amazing.

meet: peppercorn

SO, if you live in Maryland and DIDN'T know you could do this, plan for it for next year. Bring extra snacks and be prepared to sit for a long time... but also be prepared to be completely blown away and weepy for a few hours. (also, i'm off beef for a while).
xo, danamarie


Juliet said...

WOW! That was a great read =) I am jealous!

greenstarstudio said...

ha ha--- it WAS a pretty special day ( and i didnt even have cotton candy!... that's usually all i need for a good time)


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Yummy and Company said...

thanks for sharing this! now i can't wait for the fair to come around again!!!