Life would have it that whatever crazy that could happen, will happen at just the wrong time. I mean, we all live a life with Murphy stopping in for a visit. Some even have a spare room for Murphy… Calving always brings good ol’ Murphy along for a stop in, but fortunately for us it hasn’t been too frequent!
Really our calving is going great! (but now that I have spoken it out to to the blog world we are doomed, I’m so sure…) These first time mammas are doing terrific. There is always an occasional issue of one heifer trying to claim another but that’s easy enough to handle. And not too many have needed help birthing. Only a handful have had calves big enough that the cowboys have stepped in to pull it. And then all of the babies are doing well to jump up just as soon as they splat on the ground. We really can’t complain.
But there are those couple of times of craziness that keep us from letting our guard down. There was a freezing, moonlit night that particuarily comes to mind. It was a cold night, but I’m sure that it seemed so much colder because as late as it was, I was all so cozy and ready for bed. But every calving season we need one bed time calf pull.
The Rancher had gone out for a meeting just as dinner was ending, promising it would be quick- only like a half hour or hour at the most. I knew better but it wasn’t a big deal because I would just put the babies to bed and have some time to myself. The kids bathed, we cleaned up toys and settled in the chair for some stories before bed time. It didn’t take long for sister to fall asleep and I was left to snuggle with The Rancher’s Sidekick. We had just finished Curious George when The Rancher came home, two hours later! He said a quick hello, grabbed his flash light and headed out again, this time on the 4wheeler. It was his week for the late check, so it wasn’t a big deal. It turned out to be a big deal when he came right back home. A check that quick means something is up and required icky clothes.
My suspicions were confirmed when I heard him on the phone calling Rancher Sr. asking for help to pull a calf. The heifer had started before he had left and it had been long enough that it was time to get the calf out. Of course she would need to be pulled just after I had pulled on my pjs and was minutes from getting The Rancher’s Sidekick to bed. But the ranch girl in me wouldn’t miss a chance to help. So we bundled up, pjs and all, to help dad pull the calf.
Getting the heifer in the maternity pen proved to be an issue of itself. They generally go in pretty well when they can see where they are heading, but getting them in during the night has its own issues to be dealt with. Just imagine a cow in labor running while you chase her having only a spotlight to help you see all while still trying to drive the 4wheeler… fast… When the chase gets that intense, I opt to sit out because experience has told me that The Rancher can get a little crazy. I choose life, thanks… I think that they traipsed across the heifer hill so many times that they hit all for corners, nearly went out the gate, and then finally made it in.
Looking at the heifer we were pretty worried because things did not look normal. There wasn’t a bubble showing or feet poking out. It just looked weird. Lucky for us, everything was going fine but it was just a huge calf. A LUNKER of a calf. After some intense pulling and pushing and groaning (from the cow, not just me) we had a baby. Having babies of my own has made me quite sympathetic and I think that every time I watch those heifers calve I push right along with them. Its tough work!
The happy arrival of this baby heifer wasn’t the end of the night. Yes this story had a happy ending, the momma licking the baby and baby struggling up. But while The Rancher and Rancher Sr. were getting this momma in, they noticed another calf. A hardly licked off teensy baby without a momma. Abandonment is not really conducive to survival. Kinda common sense, but not all heifers have it. We buzzed around what seemed like forever until we found who we figured was the mom. We tried chasing her over to the baby. We trying just letting her go over to it herself. We tried getting her into the maternity pens. And all she would do was run. If it were me, I’m pretty sure I would park myself and not move- going for a run after birth doesn’t sound good to me! But this cow had something else on her mind and just did not want to take care of her calf.
At that point there wasn’t a lot we could do but wait and see. The calf was in a good place for the night so we opted to let them play things out and we would just keep checking in on them. We headed into the house to thaw our frozen cheeks. Come morning the darn cow STILL hadn’t claimed her calf. And with the morning came more attempts to get her in and get the calf on her. At that point we opted to just take the calf and put her on the milk cow.
Now why couldn’t all of this craziness have happened in the sunshiny day rather than the freezing night? I dunno… There must be some sort of quota those cows have to fill of keeping us up in the night. On the plus side, at least we only had to go out once. And we got to finish Curious Gorge before our wild night began!