Hello blogland. This is Farm Buddy making another guest appearance, as Kris has promised that she will post Bess pictures if I write a blog post. Even though Bess has nothing to do with my blog posting, I know that everyone will enjoy seeing pictures of Bess because it is ALL ABOUT BESS!!
Well, since Shannon is expecting a calf, and my friend's cow, Pilgrim, is also expecting a calf, I thought I would throw in a story of a cow I had a long time ago. My cow was named Maple, and she was a beautiful registered Jersey cow. She was reddish in color with a white star on her forehead and white tail switch. She was my very first cow ever, which is a story for another time, and I adored her (although not as much as I adore Bess!).
At the time, I worked on a Jersey dairy, milking 24 Jersey cows. When this story takes place, Maple was pregnant with her third calf, and she had previously had two bull calves. I was so, so hoping for a heifer calf! When I worked at this farm, I generally got about four hours of sleep at the most, so I continuously walked around in a constant state of sleep deprivation, which is why I now do not even own an alarm clock. I am STILL making up for sleep lost all those years ago!!
When Maple was due to calve, I started sleeping in the barn, with a cot set up next to her spacious box stall, which we used for all soon-to-be momma cows. On the night that Maple was actually due to calve, she started showing all signs of delivering soon. I was filled with anticipation and so excited, as I was convinced that I would finally get a heifer calf. I kept trying to wake up every twenty minutes or so to check her, but of course this was difficult due to my constant state of exhaustion.
Around one in the morning, I checked Maple, and she appeared to be going into labor. I patiently sat next to her (probably singing songs to calm her, knowing me), and after a while, I saw the water bag appearing. My boss had taught me that it was important to be patient and not interfere until at least the two front legs and head appeared. I must have fallen asleep because the next thing I knew, it was about two o’clock in the morning and Maple was standing up and calmly eating hay. I ran to check for signs of the calf or signs of labor or signs of ANYTHING, but absolutely nothing seemed to be happening.
At this point, I began to wonder if I had dreamed the whole thing about seeing the water bag and start of labor. Maple seemed totally fine, and did not look like she was anywhere close to calving. I continued checking her every half hour until I began working at 3:30 in the morning, but nothing was going on. When my boss arrived, I told him what had happened, but we did not know what to think, as I could not swear that I had not dreamt all of it!
After milking, because I was so upset, my boss decided to have the vet come out and check Maple. We were both apprehensive about this, as it would be embarrassing to have the vet come out for nothing. Well, when the vet got there and checked Maple out, he discovered that Maple HAD been in labor! Her calf was in a very abnormal position and could not be born without skilled assistance.
The vet worked and worked and worked, and finally was able to deliver a calf. Guess what, it was a heifer!!!! However, when he pulled the calf out, he declared that it, unfortunately, was stillborn. Well, I hadn't waited for three years to have a dead heifer calf, so I told him to bring her back to life! He and my boss exchanged glances, but he kept rubbing the calf briskly and trying to clear the mucous membranes from around her nose and mouth. However, he kept shaking his head and saying that it was no use.
Well, I of course, had read all of the James Herriot books, so I told him to pick up the calf by her hind legs and swing her around! He was dubious, but seeing that I would not stop pleading for him to do this, he complied and swung that calf around and around. Lo and behold, after what seemed like forever, she came back to life!!!
Everyone was stunned by this, and we all stood and admired this beautiful calf. She was very red in color, even redder than her mother, and had a perfect large white heart on her forehead. She had four white socks and a white tail switch. She was absolutely the most beautiful calf I had ever seen in my life. The vet cautioned me that he did not expect her to live long because she had damage to her lungs, but happily, we proved him wrong.
I named that calf Ruby, and treated her just like a puppy. At the time, I had a Golden Retriever named Gracie, and Gracie, Ruby, and I would take long walks every day. I never had Ruby on a halter; I just let her run free, and she would run, gallop, and kick as she chased Gracie and I around the farm. We would climb steep hills and romp all over the place, which I guess eventually cleared her lungs, as she lived a long happy life with me. Another interesting thing was that Maple had been a holy terror to milk when she had her first calf, but Ruby was always the sweetest cow ever. She never kicked when the milking machine was attached for the first time, and she like all people and all animals.
I worked for seven years on that Jersey farm, and then had my own Jersey dairy for another five years, and that was the only abnormal calving I ever encountered. In fact, it was the only abnormal presentation I have ever seen in a cow except for when my cow Buff had a backwards calf a few years ago. Hopefully my luck in this regard will continue, and Shannon and Pilgrim will easily present us with beautiful and healthy heifer calves!!
So far this year, I have three calves. Jane had that beautiful boy that Kris posted pictures of, and the Queen (her real name is Queen Anne’s Lace) had a beautiful boy that is shiny black with what looks like a lightning bolt on his thigh and white star on his forehead. His name is Will. Violet, who is the Queen’s mother, had a beautiful daughter, Rose. She is totally jet black and very shiny. Kris will have to take pictures of them soon for all of you to see.