Pollywog finally calved at around 8:15 last night. We had been watching the signs for a few days. She waited until her official due date -and then held off until we were done for the day and gone!
So Alice and I went back to the farm after dinner to check on her. Her water had broken. She was softly mooing. Then a hoof appeared. Several contractions later… still one hoof. This is not good, I thought. There should be two (front) hooves followed by a nose. We gave her more time, but still only one hoof. I took off about 7 layers, washed up my hand and arm and gently probed around. Yup. There it is, just in back of the first one. Good. I don’t really want to do a James Herriot in a cold barn. The calf is positioned correctly, thank God! We’ll wait some more.
These are longer contractions now. She’s pushing hard. Yes, here it comes! There’s the second hoof! Next time around a tongue appears briefly as if playing hide-n-seek. Here it is again -and a nose! Alice and I each hold a hoof, not so much to pull, but to prevent the calf from slipping back in. A few more pushes, the head comes out and is quickly followed by the rest.
We now have an extremely wet, slimy calf on the floor. As I wipe the gunk from its mouth, it shudders and magically starts breathing. How does it know? Alice, Momma and I wipe it down. After a few minutes it’s somewhat dry. I milk Pollywog and Alice gives her -yes, it’s a girl!- some warm Momma milk. Little Girl quickly figures out the whole bottle-thing and sucks down some essential colostrum.
We carry her to a prepared, dry pen, put a “calf” blanket on her and bury her under a pile of hay. It is a cold night after all and there is no heat in the barn. She looks out of her hay pile at us, not sure what just happened. It's suddenly a big, cold, strange world! Everything has changed. I don't understand anything. But I think I'll take a nap. It's been, after all, a busy day.
PS – both Little Girl and Momma are doing fine this morning.
Randy Robar, co-owner of Kiss the Cow Farm