Marewatch. It's not a word, but it should be: a portmanteau of an expectant mare combined with the actions of the apprehensive and excited owner. Horse breeders know the would-be word in all its connotations: midnights at the barn. Sleepless nights. Coy mares watching for the house lights to dim before dropping and foaling. Foaling kits. Flashlights by the door. Strawbales by the barn. Phrases like, "bagging up," and "tail wrap" tossed about like flakes of alfalfa. Heavy reading: veterinary manuals propped open to pertinent pages, just in case.
It's that time of year on the most blessed of years: one in which a foal is due. I had last year off, and have missed it. I can only go so long without having that new horse smell in the barn, and there's no better new horse smell than the one packaged with impossibly long legs, big eyes, milk-flecked muzzle, and that soft baby fur.
Colostrum. Placenta. Amnion. Umbilical cord. We have certain words we bring out of storage just for these occasions. We ready ourselves by charging the camera batteries and making sure there's fresh bedding. We don't schedule appointments or make inflexible plans during the two-week span we most expect the baby to arrive. We tell our friends to keep their calendars open so they can see the newborn while it's still wobbly. Our very best friends are there with us, holding us up when we're wobbly with foal fatigue.
We jot down potential names -- some for colts, some for fillies. We calculate color genetics and estimated foaling dates. We recalculate if we aren't coming up with the color options we want, or if we're getting nervous because the mare is overdue. We know the foal will come out when its ready, not when we are, but we still wonder why it's taking its time.
It's midnight, two days before Cody's due date, and I'm on marewatch. What a great place to be.