A New Calf, Unexpectedly Early

In the morning, I went out into the world to take care of the livestock.  The cows were pretty far out in the field, and not even pretending to graze.  They were unusually active, jogging back and forth.  “That’s odd,” thought I, but I could see them both, and they looked fine, so I went on about my day, which involved lots of laundry and the nursing of a great many people with a stomach bug.  In the evening, I went out again to care for the animals, but now the cows were nowhere to be seen.  I shrugged, thinking to myself, “An easy night!”  Well, as easy as it could be, since I was the only one capable of doing any chores, and there were piles of dishes and laundry to be dealt with.  But then, I thought better of it.  I don’t have the best fences in the world, and if they think something delicious lurks on the other side, the cows can actually go through the wire.  Plus, they were acting strange in the morning.  I decided to go find them.

Past the pond, I went, but no sign of them.  Over the hill, I went, and there were, lying down in the farthest corner of the pasture.  “Hm,” thought I again.  “It’s not the laying down time of day.  Wonder what they’re up to.”  As I got closer, I saw something in the grass under the tree, something dark.  “Too big to be a poop,” I thought, and then, “Oh, no.  Do not tell me she had her calf.  Not tonight!”

But a calf it was, three weeks early.  Sunshine wasn’t showing any signs of being ready; her udder was still fairly soft and not nearly as big as it normally gets.  But there was a calf, lying in the grass, cozy and dry, looking up at me.  She isn’t the biggest thing I’ve ever carried across that field, but it’s a long way from that back corner to the barn, especially when you’re being dogged by two excitable and full grown bovines.  We made it back safely, and I debated whether to try to milk Sunshine right then and get the calf a bottle, or whether we could wait till morning.  It looked like they’d maybe already nursed, but then I saw the calf was having trouble standing.  Her front hooves are turned under, so she’s trying to stand and walk on the tops of her feet, basically.

We decided to milk and feed, and a good thing, too.  The poor baby was starving!  Aside for not being able to walk, she seems to be healthy and fiesty.  I checked with the vet this morning, and he says she has retracted tendons from positioning in the womb.  Just a random act of God, it seems, and we’re taking her in tonight to get splinted.  Hopefully we can stretch her out so she can live the full and active life of a normal cow.

I do not know what this means for our milk supply.  I don’t know how well Sunshine’s milk is going to come in, since she doesn’t seem to have been physically ready.  I thought of adding extra milkings these first few days to help it come in fully.  I don’t know.  I’m in uncharted waters.

This entry was posted in Farm on by .

About Jennie Cooper

I'm the mother of eight children, the wife of a retired soldier, and a newly minted farmer. I spend my days fairly productively, home educating our children, raising large quantities of food for several families, and volunteering in our community. I read entire novels a page at a time in the comfort of my bathroom. I tell people I'm Catholic just because they find it so shocking. I think there's nothing so exciting as a thunderstorm coming in. It doesn't bother me at all that my dog barks outside my bedroom window all night. And I rather enjoy being 40. I didn't think I would, but 40 is pretty good.