“You might as well call in to work today and sit in the barn. Today will be the day.”
I rolled my eyes at Mike. “It’s been “the day” for the last how many days.”
We were in the barn doing morning chores and checking on Caroline. She was huge, obviously uncomfortable and showing every sign that she was ready to go any time now.
“I will check on her before I leave for work.” I have been for the last couple weeks and there has been nothing to report.
We kept on with our chores and that was that.
I had everyone loaded in the van and ready to go, pulled up to the barn and you guessed it! There she was standing over a very fresh calf. I let my boss and daycare know that I was going to be late and started checking everyone out.
Caroline was still huge and very unsettled. The calf got up after a short while and started trying to nurse but mama wasn’t having any part of it. She kept shying away from him (I found out the “him” a little later) and stomping her hind foot when he’d get too close. I s’pose, it’s her first calf, she’s still quite uncomfortable and this little slimy creature keeps coming after her. I gave her a flake of hay and some oats to distract her enough so the little guy could sneak in and eat. I think once some of the pressure on her swollen bag was relieved she got the hint that he was a good thing.
Once the kids were at daycare I headed back to the barn and let work know I was going to be later than the few minutes I thought. Something just didn’t seem right and I wasn’t about to spend the day at work and come home to a dead cow and a bottle calf.
I checked the calf over better when I got back. He was doing well, obviously getting fed and had some energy. Cutest little curly haired dun colored bull. Looked just like his dad. There wasn’t much I could do for Caroline but watch and wait for what seemed like a second calf that might arrive. We had breakfast together and then some coffee. Then a lot of watching and waiting while she was straining and pushing.
It was about dinner time that she pushed out the afterbirth. Mike had been asking for updates all morning so I had been sending pictures. He got one of that too before I realized he was probably eating. Oops. Lucky for him he was almost done by the time he saw it. Actually he was just walking into the barn to check on Caroline and I and had brought me lunch.
I like to eat and I probably don’t want to split dessert if asked. Until now I did not have an answer readily available if asked “what would make you lose your appetite?’. Really there isn’t much. I most certainly have an answer now! The sight and sound of a cow scarfing down afterbirth like her very life depended on it. That made me lose my appetite. I ate half a taco and set the rest aside for later… much later. I understand this is an inborn defense mechanism. Animals will eat the afterbirth and get the area as clean as possible to keep predators at bay. That doesn’t mean it’s not disgusting.
After some deliberation I decided I might as well just call in for the day. I also called the vet. He was too far away to be able to do a farm visit.
“If you’re up to it, scrub up to your elbow and feel for a second calf. If there is one coming you will feel it. If you can find both legs go ahead and pull.”
“Ok. I can tie her up and see what I can find.”
After thinking about it, I decided that I would have to wait until Mike was home for that. I’m 35 weeks pregnant myself and as easy as Caroline is to work with, if I had to start pulling a calf we could end up with third baby in the barn and that’s an adventure I’d rather not go on. We all know that if there was a calf to pull I would just start. We waited.
It took a few hours more before she finally settled in and quit straining and pushing. At the end of the day we had a healthy cow and calf. There wasn’t a second (or third) baby and that’s quite alright!