It happens every February and every year it takes me by surprise. When we are at our grayest, slushiest, muddiest here in western Montana and I’m ready to move far, far away, the calves in my neighbor’s pasture start dropping. A few at first, they appear as slick black spots on an otherwise drab landscape. Mama cows lick their bottoms and faces clean and munch on afterbirth right outside our kitchen window. Then the eagles come and circle the pasture for a bite of that afterbirth. After a week or so the pasture is teetering with calves just finding their legs and birds hopping around in the hay behind them. Even though these births are timed perfectly by my neighbor rancher and somewhere along the way these cows have been trained to birth according to his plans, it’s still the first sign in my world that spring is coming. Come June these calves will have fattened up a bit and they will inevitably break through our fences to eat our hay, tromp on our flowers. But this year I’ll have another baby of my own to look after and probably won’t pay these calves that I’m so fascinated with now that much attention.