Friday, August 21, 2015

Tending baby in a flooded pasture

Two of our heifers are very late in calving, Bruce thinks that they over ate on corn last fall when turned out in the combined fields and aborted their calves, so were bred back late. Finally #40 started to show and we have waited and waited and waited.

"Aren't you EVER going to have that baby?"

"Who wants to know?"

To complicate matters, I discovered over the weekend that another calf was nursing the heifer, depleting her colostrum that is vital for the new born calf. All we could do was keep watch and give the new baby some powdered colostrum as soon as it was born.

The days have been sunny and warm, perfect for calving and then the rains came, 5 inches in 24 hours and then she decides to have her calf! We tried to get her up to the barn but with the pasture flooding it was impossible. All we (Bruce) could do was watch in the rain for the blessed birth.

Luckily it was a warm rain, he hung out with the rest of the cows, surreptitiously peeking through the herd as #40 pushed awhile, then got up and grazed awhile. He came home to eat dinner, soaked to the skin, stripped everything off to go in the dryer, and dressed in dry clothes. The rain finally stopped and he drove the 4-wheeler back over to see if any progress was made. 

Bruce knew immediately that she had the calf because all the cows were gathered around, he just didn't know if it was alive.

He was indeed alive and well, being sniffed and snuffled by several cows, they love a new baby. It's much like a room of grandmothers at a baby's christening, everyone wants to hold it.

They have to settle for sniffing and an occasional lick.

The mother getting some advice from a seasoned cow....

"I know it seems overwhelming at first, but before you know it he will be going off to college."
We gave the little guy an hour to recover from his birth, he was still wet and sticky but we had to get the colostrum in him before he nursed. He was a big boy and strong, it took both of us to hold him while Bruce tubed him, then we carried him to high ground as the creek was coming up even more. His mother was quite concerned so we left the two alone to bond. In the night the storms came up again and when morning came it was lightening too much to go check on him. Bruce and I went to help some friends whose basement flooded, they had twice the amount of rain we did, and didn't get home till late afternoon. 

When we got home I took the 4-wheeler to go look for him and found the mother way down in the pasture, across the deep water with the other cows but no baby, I was sick! I criss-crossed the pasture for nearly an hour, looking, searching and praying the little guy had the good sense to stay on high ground. Just as I was about to give up, he stood up, he was safe but very, very hungry. I got Bruce and we decided if she wouldn't come to her baby, we would take him to her. We loaded a deep bed of straw in the back of the gator and, much to the dogs dismay they were ordered to stay home, and drove back to the pasture. That's all I would need, me, a calf and two big dogs in the back of the gator. Even though I knew the general vicinity the calf was, it was hard to see him because of the high grass. He took being lifted into the gator in stride and I crawled in to hold him. He seemed to enjoy the ride, for awhile, then started thrashing, and he was strong! It was all I could do to hold him, at one point he kicked my glasses off with his back hoof but didn't break them. Bruce was hightailing it down the road, past our house to the home farm. The calf settled down, we drove through the yard and down the dirt road to the pasture but by that time the cows had moved and were on their way to the pasture gate, they paid no attention to Bruce's "Come Boss!!" So it was back to the home place where we unloaded the baby in the cow maternity pen, we would sort off her mother when we got them up.

Bruce took the tractor and loaded silage while I opened some gates and closed others, then ran down the lane where all the cows were waiting, rather impatiently I might add. The cows surged past me, "to the  barn, to the barn!" We sorted off the mother and put her in with her calf, boy was she surprised! He was famished. We kept two other old cows with their calves with the pair so she wouldn't panic and go through the fence, they do not like to be alone. After two harrowing days, they were where we wanted them to be all along.

The next morning I took my camera to get pictures and found him with a full belly, sleeping in the sun.

He hardly woke up when I got in with him.

But his mother was none too pleased.

"What are you doing to my baby??"

A lick on the face and she was happy again.

Today was doctoring day, #40 and #33, who was also born in the pasture, needed shots and fly tags. If #33 could talk, she would have a story to tell because she was attacked by something out there. When we found her, she had two skinned places on her back.

It's a dangerous world out there for newborn calves because the cows will stash them away and go join the other cows for awhile, she was lucky.

After being stuck twice with a needle and an ear piercing with the purple fly tag, he didn't seem to hold it against us.

In fact when Bruce released him, he came over to where I was and laid down.

They will stay at the barn for a few more days before returning to the pasture with the herd, he will be a lot stronger and hopefully his mother will keep a better eye on him. Now if #23 would just have her calf, without a rain storm in mix, we will be very happy also.

Well, we can always wish.

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