Being a Farm Mom Isn't for the Faint of Heart

December 7, 2017

Ever have a hunch or a gut feeling that something is going to happen on a day? Well that was yesterday for me. I am sitting here typing this with 8 good fingers which is a challenge all on its own, but at least its better than the 7 I had last night. 

 

I'm the type of person that when it comes to livestock, I like to take matters into my own hands. To get the full story from yesterday, I'll need to catch you up. 

A little over a week ago we had our herd health day. We knew we had the possibilty of having 8 or so cows close to calving. I had been watching them and my cow, Belle, was quite the wide body. Doc said she was due to calve anytime which I figured already. So we kept her along with a few others in the corral and let everyone else out to the pasture. No big deal. It was just a waiting game. 

The December weather for West Michigan isn't one to sneeze at normally. Highs in the 30s is pretty normal and snow usually comes along with that. However, earlier this week we hit 60 degrees. Crazy. The very next day though the temps dropped nearly 30 degrees and brought high winds with it. 

I had mentioned to my mom to expect a calf in the next couple days because of the barometric pressure drop usually moves things along. The cows had plenty of barn space to come in and get out of the wind if they so desired. Cool.

~Fast forward to yesterday morning~

Per usual when we have cows close, I text my mom in the morning for an update. I asked how Belle was doing. Still the same, just hanging in there. So I go about my morning. Felicity, who is now 3mos, was pretty cooperative. Playing and kicking like crazy in her bouncy seat until she fell asleep. I then had an opportunity! A hot shower! Yes! I took it and ran with it. I mean what new mom wouldn't? I thought just in case, I'll take my phone in the bathroom. 

I hear a text or two come in, no biggy. I definitely wasn't in a hurry. 

Next thing I know my phone is ringing! Uh oh, it's Mom. Mind you fresh out of the shower my hair in a towel, I answer. She starts in on how she can't tube this calf because she couldn't feel the tube go down the esophagus and its cold and so on... I had to stop her. I had no idea what was happening. Long story short, I needed to get to the farm ASAP. Belle had her calf out in the corral, in the wind.

 

She had a cold mouth already. Fantastic. My day was about to get extra interesting. 

 

Flying around my house like a crazy person, I had to find barn clothes, pack up Felicity, put the dog out, and make sure I didn't forget anything important like the diaper bag or my purse. I went from the shower to the car in 10mins. Wet hair and all. 

Thank goodness Felicity fell asleep on the way. I ran her in the house and grabbed the goat colostrum Mom had thawing in the sink and off I ran to the barn. I get there to a cold dun heifer and Belle not too pleased about being locked in the barn. Mom had a blanket on her and a lamb coat that she had microwaved to put on the calf. Getting the feeding tube down her throat wasn't the easiest. She kept clenching her jaw and I had a hard time feeling the tube to make sure it was in the right spot. Well we got it and the warm colostrum in her belly. We weren't convinced yet though. She was too cold to leave in the barn. Off the the house we went! Calf had a ride in the wheelbarrow. She had no strength to speak of at all. Floppy. 

 

The kitchen at my parents' house has seen a variety of livestock, so this isn't a new thing. One of the best features is the toe kick heater under the kitchen sink! We snuggled the calf up by the heater with a blankie and my coat on her so help keep the heat in. It was a long afternoon of babysitting the calf and the baby. The waiting game. At least I had some time to finally do my hair! I had enough time to french braid it in between feedings. Felicity and the heifer seemed to be on the same schedule. 

The calf was slow to improve but eventually started to make noise and move some. Progress! Time came for my parents to be somewhere so I decided to stay with the calf. My wonderful husband came to give me some relief with Felicity and the calf. He even went to get us dinner! Fabulous. My doctor man helped me tube feed the calf again and this time she had some spunk! She tried to get up!

 

I mean not ideal when I had a tube down her throat but still a welcomed response! By the time my parents returned home the calf was able to stand and was warm enough that she had the shivers. Meaning, time to get back to the cow! 

She was much harder to carry through the house this time around. She fought me as much as she could. She smashed me in the side of the head with her rock hard head. Glasses flew off. Not cool baby. Not cool.

Belle was waiting patiently. We tagged the calf and put her back in with the cow. I got the calf up and let Belle smell my hand. That was the beginning of the end for my night. She wanted nothing to do with me being in the pen! I mean none.

 

However, we wanted to try and get that calf up to her to eat. My dad and I decided to put a halter on Belle. It's been a few years since she'd had one on... and she was not cooperative at all. We had to rope her and then try and get a halter on her. We had her tied off and I had just gotten the halter on after a few tries. She freaked out threw her head in the air and lunged forward taking my hand with her. My hand ended up between her head and a steel gate. Not something I would recommend. Angry tears were shed. Very angry tears. We ended up giving up on the halter plan shortly after since she didn't want to calm down at all. So we let her be. 

Dad went out later last night to check on the calf. He brought a bottle out just to make sure she had food in her belly. He ran Belle out of the pen just to be safe. The calf wanted absolutely nothing to do with the bottle. Fought him tooth and nail. Finally he just let Belle back in and the calf went to work. Belle was so full that she did kick at her a little bit but the calf was persistent. That helped us sleep easier last night.

 

Matt had gone home with Felicity so I had to bring home some vet wrap for him to take a look at my fingers. Not nice. We ended up buddy wrapping 3 fingers together. He doesn't think they are broken but it was hard to tell. Ibuprofen and ice were my friend and definitely still are today. My fingers are all swollen and have a heartbeat all their own. The pain kept me up most of the night. Crossing my fingers Felicity is easy going today. 

 

As far as the cow and calf, they are doing good! Calf eats and Belle is happy with it. Wonderful. Now to get these fingers to heal and all will be good with the world. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and we have a few inches of new snow overnight. Why not? Farming and being a mom isn't the easiest job, but that's ok. LIke I said, I like to take matters into my own hands. 

I give major kudos to my mom and other farm moms out there who can juggle chores, a baby, calving season and get food on the table at night. I bow to you. I'll get there in time.

 

~'Till Next Time

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