Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Calving in the East

Well, I thought I written my last blog post several months ago. But life is a funny thing. You can't control what happens and I therefore must decompress somehow....and well this just works.

But. Before I go on I first must offer the disclaimer for this post. I am not squemish in the least (except when it comes to people drawing my own blood and snakes eating things...but I digress.) So, it should be no suprise that I could get a little graphic. Also, I also would like to proclaim that despite living in Montana for a short 10 months and learning a lot about cattle and calving I am no expert, won't claim it, never gonna. So, for those of you that read this and "know stuff" I offer you the full privledge of having a good belly laugh at me, and my descriptions.

Now the story....

I first have to back up several months, to when Kyle's dad (Ron) inicently enough went to the local cow auction to pick up a steer/heifer to finish for beef. Ron came home with a nice red angus heifer. The plan was to butcher her around October.

Well, she was nice and filled out, but one day Ron noticed that her udder was not - shall we say - as petite as you would think a heifer her age would/should be. Upon Kyles conformation, yes she was making a bag. And suprise, suprise, looks like Ron got a two-for-one deal at the auction.

O.k. so most ("most" being those in the cattle business.) might not think it a big deal, except this is going to be a very, very late calf, to a first-time-heifer and no idea what or how big a bull she was bred to. But you roll with the punches and plan to watch her and help if needed knowing you have all the supplies, vaccines, and equipment needed.

Is everyone following me so far???

Yeah, they had none of that.

Ron and Shawn are not in the breeding cattle business, just the raising and eating cattle business. But, what do you do....

So today following a lovely clear night with a gorgeous full moon, guess who goes into labor...

Yep she's having the calf.

Kyles mom Shawn and his sister Tiffani, do the right thing, they keep an eye on her and look for signs of trouble. But after several hours and no progress they call Kyle.

Kyle was thankfully is still home. So, we pack up the kids and head over there to see if anything is to be done.

Kyle decides shes been in labor long enough it would be wise to check and see how the calf is doing. She's having hard contractions but they seem to be doing nothing and she is extremely wrestless and uncomfortable.

Great idea right? Except they have no head-catch, no small pen... But Kyle is nothing if not creative. He maks a box stall by tying an old gate at the door to the run in and fashions a chute out of another gate. No head catch, and the hope and prayer that my 160lbs and Kyles sister are going to hold her pinched in between a wall and this alluminum gate.

To my shock and amazement. we actually do it....almost... shoot! lost her...But we got her back in and with me on gate and tail duty and Tif on head and gate duty, we pray for stength and manage a second time with sucess.

***O.k. I have to take a moment here to let you all know that while it sounds like we have it figured out ... we don't (Kyle does, just the rest of us don't) and while we are doing our best Kyle does use a few choice adjetives to string together the verbs to get us to move our A**es and do what he needs us to do. Whatever works I guess. Let the record show I WAS MOTIVATED.**

O.k. so the good news is the calf is alive and coming right (front feet then a nose).

The bad news it is a BIG calf, especially for this little heifer.

But, the calf is o.k. the mama is not fully, fully dialated and the water bag just had broken, so we let her loose in the stall and see if the feet would come out more on their own. After 45 minutes, and a lot of contractions (you know I found a way to watch, and pace... and watch.) still no progress.

O.k. So get ready this next part you can really laugh at, though it was not at ALL funny at the time. And just goes to show what green horns poor Kyle had to work with.

Picture this: a box stall with a door that swings out tward the asile. That is one side of our makeshift chute/head catch-without-the-catch. The other part is an aluminum gate panel. Which was by now bent over because it was folding nicely around the heifer like a twist-tie bends around a bread bag. The gate is fastened to the post in the near corner with some lead ropes. and the other end is free to swing open and shut and squeeze. Yep, were high tech over here.

Well, we had left the heifer alone but now with no progress it was time to start thinking about pulling. the heifer was laying down at this point. Kyle sneeks in climbs over the gate of our head catch to help and suprisingly the heifer is o.k. with it for a while. He works the legs and can see a nose but its too tight. It just won't come. He calls me in, I climb over the gate quietly as I can, but it disturbs her and she gets up. Kyles o.k. with this we'll just put her in our head catch and pull that way....except for one teeny-weeny problem. Kyle didn't latch the stall door when he went in.....and neither did I.

Here I confess, I said a four letter word, and Kyle hanging on for dear life to the heifers tail skies out the stall door down the barn isle out into the yard.

Kyle is sking and yelling and I quote: "^*&^&)^%^$@@#$%^&*^%$#@!@#$%^ block the ^)$##$%^&%$##$%*&^%& and get the #$%^&#$%^&^ over there and (^%$#$%#$%^ DO IT NOW!" end quote.

...Did I mention Kyles mom is helping at this point? As this is going on she is firmly repermanding Kyle for his language, and as I in atempt to reclaim my postion of decent help am frantically closing barn doors and making a good place to send this cow back. I manage to weed my way through the explatives and help him get the cow back into the barn and the stall. Deeep breath, disaster averted....no, corrected is more like it. And Kyle never let go of that tail!

Back in the stall with the door securely latched, Kyles, Tiffani, Shawn and I are doing our best to get this momma forward enough in the catch so Kyle can pull. Thankfully she just decides to lay down. We have no straps, no chains, no wench. Kyles Dad arived home from work as we were getting the cow back in the barn. Thank you LORD! - I mean that with all sincereity. Upon hearing Kyles string of explitive directing me how to help him get the cow back in the barn he further repremands Kyle for his language. (Yes, I am taking note. Parenting tip #406: it is still important to parent your 27 year old son who is married with two children because in a crisis situation you want to still want him to have good manners.)***I say this in a loving, humerous, tongue-in-cheek tone***

Thankfully now that Ron is here it takes some of the pressure off us girls as he has a lot more muscle than any of us.

Back in the stall....with cow in our makeshift squeeze chute. Kyle engineered a makeshift puller out of two lariats figure-eighted over the calfs fetlocks. But even the two of them with Tiff and I think Shawn at one point on the ropes they are unsuccessful for getting this calf any further out.

FYI - I am religated to tail duty and alternating from holding cow into the the chute or holding the rope to her head and keeping her down, depending on whether she has chosen to stand or lay, and that did change several times. Luckly I manage and I have the bruses to prove it.

But with no progress (we tried for about a half hour-45 minutes.) and the cow and us all getting tired we decide to call in the big guns. Tim who owns VerHage Dairy down the road is called he brings all the things that you should have on hand should you find yourself in this predicament. A Fetal Calf Extractor (thank you Baxter Black), lube and yet another able body. Green horns exit left... Except me the tail girl. Anyway, with in moments its over, calf is pulled, hung over the gate to drain the fluid out of its lungs, stymulated and straw up the nose. He, (yep its a BULL calf) is dazed but alive!

All of us are sweating and thrilled. Mama cow is looking back with great relief.

This may not be an amazing story to many and extremely gross to many more. But I will tell you that no matter what birth (human or animal) is amazing to me and every story is a miricle in and of itself.

So, that is the end of our Michigan calving.

UPDATE: Now it is a couple weeks later and mama and calf are doing great. Though not mean't to have a calf, this cow is a good mama.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. I read it out loud to Joe and we both enjoyed it very much. Good job Cowboys!