It’s gradually, ever so slowly getting greener out. The warmth comes and goes. Sunday night we were blessed with two events; a nice soaking bit of rain and a baby calf!
Reba-diva has been getting huge along with the largest milk bag I’ve ever seen on her. We checked her every few hours all weekend hoping to see the birth. Her last calf she presented to us nice and neat one morning when I went out to do chores and I was expecting this event to be the same only with ring side seats. On Sunday she started having contractions in the early afternoon and later her bag of waters oozed out. But no baby. After watching her for an hour, I called Francis, who called the vet. Francis came to check on her and the baby wasn’t lying just right but he couldn’t move the calf by himself. Soon enough the vet came, and with the help of a head wire and the pulling chains, a heifer was born. Alive too! We had all thought perhaps. . . but God is good!! An all red Jersey/Shorthorn cross heifer with white socks on her back legs. Happy Sigh.
This time around things didn’t go as easily as last time, and we’re still in the watchful stage. Baby was up and nursing in two hours, which was great. Unfortunately the neighbor and his dog were out and the cattle dog kept charging at Reba, who then stepped on the calf’s left hoof to defend her baby. Let’s just say Bob and I are very displeased with neighbor’s unthoughtfulness!! The tender hoof was cracked, but we don’t think any bone was broken. She gets along but with a limp. Baby also has some slight congestion after breathing in some fluids during the rough birthing process. I may ask Francis about some antibiotics, but so far she hasn’t had a fever. I do think she isn’t getting up to eat as much as she could be because of her foot, so I make sure she gets right on up to the buffet table every time I’m out. And now this morning Mama came down with a case of mastitis. I will be going out with my surge milker in a while to empty that quarter and then keep hand stripping it for a few days to see if I can get it to heal. Reba has a history of mastitis and I was really praying this time around she’d be okay.
This time around. It’s funny how things wind up differently than you thought or planned. It’s always good to be flexible, to have alternate plans and to go with the flow instead of insisting it be just one concrete way. This reminds me of the proverb that says a tree that doesn’t bend with the wind will soon break. This time around I wasn’t going to work so hard at the milking process. This time around I was just going to let the calf have unlimited resource and I would hand milk a quart or so each day. I would miss the best cream, which is at the tail end of milking, but I sure didn’t need those extra fat calories. Easy, simple – no burnout. And now I’m about to take the surge milker out there to clean out Reba’s bad quarter – which can do a better job than my arthritic hands can do. But I’m glad all is well so far, and that’s what counts!
I’m stuck on what to name the calf. I have had animals my whole life. At one time I used to answer the phone by saying “Kate’s Zoo and Emporium.” If it wasn’t animals, it would be the neighborhood kids and yes – it was often very zoo-y at our home. But I have used up all the good names I could think of through the years. In January I started up an aquarium and have three African Dwarf Frogs. I named them Hoss, Adam and Little Joe, although Hoss and Adam are females. Our last bunch of four barn cats I named 1) Maureen, 2) O’Hara (Harry), 3) John and 4) Wayne. If this calf had been a bull, it would have been reverently laid to rest in our freezer at the appropriate time. I was going to call it #2. Simple. Easy. And next year’s calf would be #3. But I’m thinking of perhaps keeping this heifer, to replace Mama Reba in a couple of years. My daughter is aghast that I would be so impersonal as to call a cow “Two.” So I could use some help in the naming department. Any suggestions? While on the way home I was listening to the music of the singing group “Home Free” and the song Elvira came up. Uumm. No. I cannot call this sweetie Elvira no matter how catchy the song is.