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Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Sunday April 22, 2007
An April full of blessings -- and new life

It's been a month jam-packed with trauma and surprises. There were taxes, of course, and more flooding (the trauma part) and then the foot-and-a-half of snow business, swallowing up the crocuses in white (surprise!).

But this April, before taxes, before the snow, came a blessing named Versace -- a milk chocolate-colored colt born at 2 a.m. on April 2 at Wildwood Farm on Holcomb Road, near Tunnel.

"I'd been sleeping out in the barn for two nights with my daughter Cayla, but it was a school night the third night out when the baby came and Cayla was asleep in the house," said Laurie Burnley, who, with her husband Steve, runs Wildwood Farm. "I contacted her by the walkie-talkie, which she had right next to her in bed, but he was born so fast, it was just me out there."

Alone in the stall, with the thin beam of her lantern-hat trained on Friendly, the mommy mare, Burnley watched as the horse readied herself to give birth, her water breaking after she lay down. Then, a small hoof and thin leg appeared. The legs were not quite staggered enough, "so between contractions I helped her out with that," Burnley said.

When I visited a week later, leggy little Versace, who was named with a 'V' for his father, a handsome Lusitano stallion named Voluntario, was nudging mom for more milk like an old pro. He was 41 inches tall at the withers, and it took him awhile just to get up to see who was looking at him with such fascination. But once he did, he wobbled around admirably, his big brown eyes glancing over curiously.

Every birth is a miracle, of course, but there is something about a horse's birth that is particularly awesome. Just the mechanics of it, the way the baby is folded up like origami inside the mother and then the way it unfolds into the world, seems to defy all the laws of physics.

Versace isn't the only April arrival up near Tunnel. Across the road, at the home of Jessica and Mike Snow, a miniature horse named Kahlua gave birth as well. Sometime on April 13, dun-colored "Hesaheckuvahillbilly" came into the world. It's a mouthful alright, which is probably why Jessica Snow said, "We're just going to call him 'Tater'."

Tater is less than 2 feet tall, smaller than the Snow family dogs, in fact. The little guy lends new meaning to the word "miniature."

It is Kahlua's first and Snow says nobody saw the actual birthing event: "We weren't over there, we didn't see it, but when we went over to feed dinner, Tater was there, already standing up and moving around."

The family also has welcomed eight new Australian heeler puppies into the world. "It's crazy here right now," Snow said.

It is supposed to be March that roars in like a lion and leaves like a lamb. But this year, April roared -- and bleated some, too. And delivered up miracles, these stunning little packages of new life.

E-mail Cohen at ecohen@pressconnects.com.

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin