As we are about 70 baby calves into calving season, our family is adjusting to a new norm. This adjustment happens every year at about the same time- yet it is always a slight shock to the system. So, I thought I would share some things we become very familiar with during calving season that define our new norm.
1) No sleep. (Cows do not have their babies at opportune times. Like humans they seem to have their babies in the dead of night or the wee morning hours. Seriously, do you know a human mother who delivered at the beautiful hour of 2pm?!?!)
2) Coffee. ( Refer to #1. You even start to really like the Folgers out of the big red can.)
3) Stench. Your own stench, your partners stench, bovine stench, etc.... ( There is no time to shower, and even if you did shower it would do no good. Just as you emerge warm and sparkling clean- a mother cow will need your gynecological assistance, refer to #4, immediately. Leaving your hair frozen, and your body covered in placenta.
4) How do I say this? A cow's derriere.One becomes extremely familiar with this for a variety of reasons.
You are constantly looking at it when checking your cows to see if they are getting ready to calve. First, the cow gets their tail all kinked in a knot up in the air, exposing said part.
Next, the water bag presents itself looking like a large bubble.
Then, the calf's feet come. The feet are very important to take note of. They can present several ways: downward, upward, one foot, or no feet. The only correct way is downwards. All other presentations mean the calf is coming the wrong way, and intervention is almost always needed. If you ever just see the tail coming you know you're in for a long ordeal.
Intervention aka pulling the calf. What do I mean by this? You have to run the cow with the problem into a headgate, and pull the calf out. The calf does not simply slide out. This is a large physical task, and I won't go into the details- unless you want me too- and results in #1-#4. We have had to pull a lot this year in our heifer bunch- like 3 out of 9. Heifers are first year mothers, and just need more help than the older cows- mainly because they have no clue what is happening to them when labor sets in. (I'm recently a first time mother- and let me tell you- I can relate!)
Finally, sometimes after a cow calves, her placenta does not detach right away. Again, you must keep an eye on this, and if after a few days its still hanging there- you must intervene.
5) Frozen TV meals. There is no time to cook. If you cannot sleep, shower, or even use the restroom on a regular schedule- there is absolutely no time to cook. And, even if you did have time to cook, you have no groceries- because you have no time to drive an hour into town to grocery shop.
Well, now you know the real side to calving season. Things are starting to pick up around here, and we are starting to have around 30 calves a day. Warm(er) weather is on the horizon, and we hope that darn weather man doesn't change his mind about this once again! Have a great week!