The Bag Lady had a very busy day today. It started at 5:45 this morning when she rolled out of bed and started the coffee. She had a quick cup, then got dressed and stumbled out to check cows. She thought she would just run out and make sure everything was okay, then go back to the house, have another cup of coffee and a hot shower, and take Uncle to town for his appointments at 9 am.
The best laid plans.....
When she got out to the far end of the pasture, she discovered that one of the cows was indeed calving. So she watched from a distance for awhile, then decided to go back to the house for a minute. While she was back at the house, she grabbed the walkie-talkie (which she had forgotten - must have been still half asleep), and set the other one beside the bed where the Rancher was still snoozing.
She got back to the pasture and had a good look at the cow and realized that the little feet that were sticking out of said cow were pointing their little soles at the sky! Now that may not mean much to most of you city folks, but it spells bad news to ranchers.
Quick lesson in cow parturition: In a normal birth, the first things to appear are the calf's front feet. Then, occasionally, you can see it's tongue laid along it's legs. Then it's nose appears, and the rest of the body follows along. If the front feet appear, the bottom of the feet are pointing at the ground, just as if it could launch itself out of the cow and land on it's feet. If those first little feet that appear are pointing at the sky, it means the calf is backwards.
Now this may not seem like a terrible thing, and, indeed, if someone is there to assist, a calf presenting backwards can be saved. But if there is no-one there to help, the calf almost always dies, because as soon as the umbilical cord is severed, the calf takes a deep breath. If his head still happens to be inside the cow (which it almost invariably will be) when the umbilical cord breaks, the first breath he takes will be amniotic fluid, and he drowns.
Fortunately, the Bag Lady appeared on the scene before this happened, and managed to rouse the Rancher. Together, they got the cow into the barn, got her tied to a post and the Rancher assisted the birth. He had to use a come-along (in case you don't know what that is, it is a pulley/ratchet thingy (yes, that is the technical term!) that is very strong, and can be used to winch things that are heavy) to help pull the calf, but he managed to save her life! Here is a very blurry picture of momma cow inspecting the critter who caused her so much pain:
(click on any of the pictures to enlarge them in all their blurry glory - not that it helps!)
The Bag Lady apologizes for the quality of the pictures - she was in a hurry, and the barn was very dark.
This is a come-along (or, rather, part of one - the Bag Lady really was in a hurry!):
She ran to the house after the calf was born, doused her head in the bathroom sink (she had brushed up against the cattle oiler when they were moving the cow to the barn and had malathion and diesel fuel in her hair!) changed her clothes and managed to get Uncle to his appointment at 8:59 am! (Even though her hair was still wet!)
The rest of the day was filled with making sure Uncle was where he was supposed to be when he was supposed to be, then grocery shopping and other errands.
The Rancher bought some square bales so it would be easier to feed the cow in the barn (she will be kept in there overnight because the weather is lousy!)
And here is an example of the lousy weather. A thunderstorm blew through late in the afternoon, bringing with it some pea-sized hail:
And there it is storming again right now - hailing again, but will probably turn to snow. Sigh.
The Bag Lady wanted to share a little cuteness with you today, too. This is the calf that was born a couple of days ago, goose-stepping his way over to momma for some milk: