Being a farmer not always as ‘cool’ as it seems

By Kim-Jo Bliss

It has been a busy week. Some stress, some fun!
I had a great big cow (which had twins last year) calve and out popped a 60-pound calf. I figured, “Wow, she’s having twins again!” But no, she just had one.
I don’t really think it was an early baby as it had full hair while normally preemies have short little hair. Oh well, a live calf is good no matter what.
I then had a heifer calve (a two-year-old first-timer). According to my “trusty “calendar, she was about one week overdue.
The biggest thing with a heifer is to give her plenty of time to calve. Some of the big old cows have a water bag and three pushes and you have a calf, but not so with a heifer.
Once I noticed her water break around 3:30 p.m., I moved her into a bigger, more comfortable pen and put the camera on her. I watched from the house until nearly 5 p.m. and decided I might as well go and do my chores.
Since she was still working away, I then decided that the 60-pound calf was looking gaunt, so I started checking into that. The milk was coming out of the teats fine, but she just wasn’t sucking all that hard.
Fortunately, I got her going and she tore into her poor mom!
I then decided I should go over and check the heifer. She had pushed out the calf about halfway, so I thought I would just go in, pull it out, and swing it around in front of her.
That didn’t happen! The calf was hip-locked–meaning simply that he was stuck.
I ran over to grab the calving chains because, of course, the heifer was in a spot I could not get the calf puller on her. I quickly put the chains on the feet and gave a pull–nothing. I tried to re-position–nothing again.
I was starting to panic and had to run to the house for the phone. I just needed some help, or at least support. I called my mom but couldn’t get her because she was on the computer (dial up). I tried a couple of times while rushing back to the barn, but still no answer.
I then called my friends: “Come fast, I have a hip-lock.”
By now I decided the calf was going to die (and maybe I was going to have a heart attack because I was so out of breath), but I still had to get it out. Back into the barn I went and started thinking of all the things you read.
I tried twisting the calf a bit, then grabbed the chains and pulled directly towards the belly-button of the cow and it slid out slowly! The calf was alive and the heifer was fine!
The calf was a bit swollen around the tongue and nose, but otherwise fine. The heifer was up in a few minutes licking him and my friends arrived to find me safe!
So why couldn’t this heifer have had the 60-pound calf and the cow the 90-pounder? Alas, that’s just how it is.
If the calf really was a week overdue, and even if it only gained one pound a day, that would be seven extra pounds.
I took my friends in for a victory visit and we all were happy to see the calf was up trying to nurse before we all had our coveralls off and hands washed.
My friends were telling me that when I called, they had just sat down to eat–and immediately just left everything. Their youngest daughter came home in the meantime and was being so helpful and put everything away for them (she didn’t realize they hadn’t even touched their supper!)
• • •
I was lucky enough to have my niece out again (actually both, but obviously the younger one isn’t ready to farm yet so she visits with grandma and grandpa).
We certainly were busy. We delivered semen, saw dairy cows and calves, and visited some friends’ calves–never mind checking our own and brushing the little 60-pounder beccause “she is gonna walk her!”
I know we all know this but everything is “Why?” with young kids. As in, “Why are we delivering semen?” (hope she don’t try to explain that one!)
On Sunday, we had a nice quiet cow calving and I asked her, “Do you wanna watch a calf get born?” First it was “why?” and then,“Yes I do.”
So I sat her down on milk crate and it was perfect. The cow was lying close to the gate, so her little eyes stared through the cracks in the boards (a few times she stood up to get a closer look) and watched as the feet came, then the nose, followed by a nice long body.
She said very little. Once she heard me say “Push, momma” and her little voice echoed “Push more, momma!”
The mom soon was up licking off the calf and I asked her if she wanted to go in and look a little closer–she did. Once in the pen I asked, “Do you want to touch it?” “No,” she replied, “it’s kind of wet!”
She had so much info to head back to town with (I don’t think either of her parents have seen a calf be born). She also told me in the truck, “I’m a farmer cause it is cool!”
Oh, it’s cool all right.

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