.. with a news bulletin!
We have a calf!
I got up just before 7 to get a glass of milk, and when I looked out the window, I could see Sasha over in the corner of the pasture. That wasn’t too suspicious, she’d been up there last night when I went to bed (though she’d been lying on her side and was really cranky when I checked on her, so I did think perhaps she was close to calving). What really clued me in was Bob, sitting at a safe distance, just staring at Sasha. Bob, you see, is FASCINATED by baby animals. He fights with the mama sheep to be able to lick the babies clean, and he will lie outside the barn pens when we have mama sheep in there with lambs. Hmm, if Bob’s that interested I’d better get the binoculars.
Note Bob, sitting there by the black sheep in the upper left corner, staring at Sasha and her baby.
Sure enough, there was a little white spec by Sasha’s feet. Since she was bred to a mini Hereford, her calf would probably have a white face, so that was enough to get me into my boots and outside.
The calf is absolutely beautiful – he’s black (last year’s baby looked like a clone of her papa, brown with a white face, but this one is different) with that pretty white face and he was clearly not very old yet. Mama had licked him clean, but he was still a wee bit damp and blowing bubbles of amniotic fluid out of his nostrils. He could stand, but he seemed very, very tired.
Now I’m still a bit of a rookie when it comes to calves, so it took me awhile to figure out the best way to get mama and baby into the barnyard. First I moved the sheep (okay that part was easy, I’ve done that a few times), then I got the barn ready with straw and fresh water and some hay, and then I tried carrying the calf. Uh uh. I’m not strong enough! The Reluctant Farmer could’ve done it no problem, but he’s used to carrying fully charged fire hoses. Me, I carry … one fleece. Maybe a lamb or a kitten. Not a calf. Then I thought maybe he’d walk if I put a lead on him. No way. He could stand, and walk, but he spent so much effort arguing with me this wasn’t gonna work well. So I got the quad and loaded him onto the back, holding onto him with one hand while I carefully and very slowly drove down the hill, across the low spot, and up to the barn yard. Sasha bellowed a fair bit but she watched us go and didn’t get mad at me when I lifted her baby up – I was very, very careful even though she hadn’t given me any indication that she didn’t want me messing with her calf. She did take runs at the dogs if they got too close, but I guess she knows I’m safe. I still tied her head to a fence post when I had to lift up the baby and I kept one eye on her the whole time. Once I had the calf in the barnyard and got the quad backed away from the gate, Sasha did come trotting up and I was able to give her some water (she wouldn’t walk the ten feet to the water trough, I had to take a bucket over to her so she didn’t have to leave the calf’s side) and leave them to rest.
The calf is very tired after all that exertion and the stress of being hauled about by a clumsy human and taken for a ride on a noisy red machine so early in the morning, but his mouth is warm and he sucked on my thumb a little, and one quarter of Sasha’s udder looks as though someone’s had a good drink already so I think things are fine.
Whew, the waiting’s over!
Let the milking begin! (well, not just yet, but soon!)