pt 2 {A (farm) Baby Story} #186

So you read Pt 1 {Here} about #154. Well 6 months later we got to meet #186 who was born on September 26, 2010. #154's mother is Yellow 25 (year she was born/number in her herd) - an older cow who had many calves. #186's mother is Red 25 and a heifer: meaning this was her very first calf. This birth was not as smooth and easy as the previous post's. It was the morning of the large Rappahannock County Farm Tour. We plan for months for this day and we expect hundreds of people to come tour the farm. The cows were in a field close to most of the activities so people could see that we actually have animals (the farm is large so there are times when it may seem we do not and only because they're at other ends of the farm). We noticed in the morning that Momma was getting ready to calve. It was a beautiful, warm morning. There wasn't much preparation needing to be done - we were just doing final touches and waiting for tour-goers to arrive.

Just before 10am, I went out to the field to check on her. She hadn't had much movement but sometimes these things take time. Mike agreed to let me watch her - with my camera - and so I did. I kept my distance and kept checking in with her. She'd be up and down and up and down and pushing and up and down and pushing. I saw very little movement and just the very little tips of those front feet (calves normally come front feet first followed by their noses on top of their legs). I began to worry as she definitely was in more discomfort than I had seen with the other cows throughout the spring calving season and the fall season thus far. Mike kept coming out to check on her and I said, "I don't know, we may have to help.". He wanted to wait just a bit longer. You don't want to intervene if it's not necessary. During one point, cars started coming down the driveway but I just felt I needed to stay and keep an eye on her. I stayed at the far end of the field and watched. She would lay down and push and push and push (no movement) and then get up and follow a teeny orphan calf we had around and lick him. Then another contraction would come and she'd look at her belly confused - it really seemed like she though the orphan was hers and it was a done deal.

At one point, I got closer and said, "Momma, if you need help, you have GOT to give me a sign." At that point she let out the loudest bellow and looked right at me. "Got it." I really felt that was her need. Mike came shortly after that and I told him I think we need to help. He watched her for awhile and when she laid down again he checked her. She didn't move - she was exhausted and call me crazy but she knew we were helping. She knew this was not how it should go.

Mike felt around and said, "His head is huge, I think he's stuck." At this point you start to wonder if the calf is alive, you start to wonder if you need to call the vet or if you give a little assistance if that will do the trick. I set the camera down and tried to assist (My Dad later said, "You put your hands where?" don't think about it, you just do it!). As I did that, I hear a car drive by and coming out of the window, "Look, kids, a calf is being born!". Oh my, please don't stop and watch - this might not be what you want the kids to see right now. Mike asked me to get some rope to put around his legs. Ideally, if you're pulling a calf, Mom is standing up and you can use gravity to pull down and out - this lady was not getting up, we had to pull without that help. I rushed back to the barn to inform Cliff - the farm owner who was speaking with the MANY tour goers that had arrived in that time - that we may have to call the vet. You don't want to lead on that it may be a sad day for folks visiting the farm - can you imagine a more "downer" visit to a farm if you had a dead calf?! By the time we got back out to the field Mike had delivered the huge (live and health!) bull calf and Mom had already stood up and walked swiftly away from the scene. This was one of the larger calves we'd had for as long as we could remember - Mike thought he was at least 85 pounds.

Those that had arrived at the farm for the farm tour had been expecting Mike to give a cooking demonstration at the exact time #186 was born. They were disappointed but the farm comes first and this baby needed help and you didn't want those hands cooking you food at that point in time. ;)

#186 / Left: hours old Right: 1.5 years old.

The farm tour went well without anymore special needs. Oh, except did I tell you we had a litter of piglets born that day, too?


Loving my life, Molly