Saturday, July 14, 2012

Our New Baby Arrives!

Midafternoon yesterday I went out to check on Lariat, who was about a week overdue to have her calf, and she was standing off by herself. I gave everybody a bit of hay and she did not join in to eat it--that was a sure sign labor had begun; she is such a chowhound.
I checked on her every  15 minutes or so, and finally, when the  hooves appeared, I relaxed a bit--the calf  was positioned properly for a normal birth.  Lariat bellowed with every contraction, standing, laying down, trying to get comfortable.  This stage with just the hooves born went on for a very long time.  I was getting nervous about it taking too long but then I recalled with both Lariat and LaFonda's last calves this stage seemed to go on forever, so I had left for a moment and came back and found the calves had been born and I had missed it!

Between contractions Lariat was nibbling at the leaves on a branch, so I pulled a few wild raspberry leaves from over the fence and she gobbled them down. Raspberry leaves are supposed to be good to prevent  engorgement of the udder, so I ran across the pasture to the garden and picked a few stems of raspberry leaves from the garden for her.
I could not have been gone for more than two minutes at most, but when I returned, there was the calf in a slippery mound on the ground. Missed it again! His body was a tangle and  his head bent back, so I straightened him out and saw he was a bull calf and was breathing.

Lariat spent along time cleaning him off. Meanwhile, all the other cows were mooing and thunder was rumbling --a storm was brewing. 
I was very anxious for him to stand up and take his first drink so we could move them into shelter before the rain started. 

Proud mom proclaiming her accomplishment!
I don't have any photos of the next part, the stressful part. Right after this photo, heavy rain began to pelt us. All the other cows were closed in the middle pasture, so we  barricaded their entrance into the loafing shed. I hefted the calf and ran to the shed, Lariat trotting beside me mooing. We got the cow and calf in and closed the gate so the other bovines couldn't enter.  Everything seemed to be going relatively smoothly as I got hay and water for Lariat and tried to get the calf to nurse, until the other cows decided they wanted in to check out the new member of the herd.

Somehow LaFonda stuck her head through the  narrow gap between the gate and the barn and then she barged her way in, pulling the gate hardware out of the wall. Suddenly, all the cows were in the  shed, crowding around Lariat and her calf,  Lariat whirling around to stay between  him and all of them - I was so worried he would get stepped on by somebody and was trying to push the big cows away. Plus,  to heighten the drama, it was lightning, thundering, pouring and hailing. Even if I tried to lure the other cows out with treats or grain, there was no way they were going out into that weather.  The calf hadn't nursed yet and it had been almost two hours since he was born, so I was also getting panicky about that. I had been trying to maneuver the calf to the teats, but Lariat wouldn't let him back there. Now with the chaos of the storm and cows and the baby being so worn out from trying, it seemed hopeless.
I tucked the calf in a corner to protect him from being trampled and ran  through rain to get stored colostrum out of the freezer, a calf bottle out of the barn,  start thawing it (why did I freeze it in a big   gallon block?!) and post my problem on the family cow message board. Within moments, several people responded that I needed to get mom and baby away from the other cows and try not to worry that he hadn't eaten yet.

Rog suggested we move her to the milking parlor, the only other cow-secure space we have, but Lariat had never been in there and I wasn't sure she would enter the barn., I scooped up the baby and carried him through the rain to the stall and Lariat  trotted closely beside me, entering with no problem.
Lariat has never been hand milked and usually  does not allow me to touch her udder, but she allowed me to get a stream, and I introduced the baby to the taste of  milk on my fingers. Within a few minutes he was  drinking, not very efficiently  but I could tell from his glugging sounds that he was swallowing some. And his tail was wagging furiously.
It was 10 p.m. when I went in to take a much-needed shower and eat some supper.
This morning we had to move them out of the  stall so I could milk LaFonda, but all that rigamarole went smoothly and Lariat and the calf are now settled back in the stall for a quiet day.

The calf is so cute --looks just like his big sister, Jitterbug. Now we need to come up with a name...Storm? Thor? Or, keeping with the dance theme,  Charleston?  He's so  black and shiny--Licorice? Suggestions welcome.


Mary Ann said...

What a wonderful story, and I am so glad you saved him and he's healthy! I think Licorice is cute!

jayne said...

It was a dark and stormy night. I like Stormy or Knight. But Licorice is adorable and Charleston falls into place nicely too.

Cheri said...

Now I'm really regretting not stopping by the farm while on my bike ride this morning!

I like Stormy ... fits the story. However, all the other name ideas are cute too!

gz said...

certainly an eventful arrival!

Marie said...

Rain! Hail!

You need a tv crew to film all this drama .... he's a handsome looking calf.

Marcia said...

I loved reading your birth tale. I vote for Licorice! I take it you were by yourself with all this happening. Whew! I'm sure you're glad it's all over.

Anonymous said...

wonderful! He is a handsome fellow now isn't he - I like the original name-Charleston ! It's a good masculine name and it goes w/your theme. Stormy?? too common...But it's your choice, God knows that you earned it moving him all around in that rain ! Carry on !

Unknown said...

Maybe Quickstep because of the hustling you had to do to get him in the barn before the storm!!

Soul Flower Farm said...

I love the birth story. So nice to see the videos. Thanks for sharing.
I like storm.

katiegirl said...