Friday, July 24, 2009

Pullin' a Calf

Oh hey! You still here? In case you hadn't noticed I've been taking a little blog siesta. I've taken several, each little disappearance growing longer each time, this one being the longest.
("MAY 6th!" my grrrlfriend said pointedly, "You haven't blogged since May 6th!" AlRIGHT already.) I can't explain it other than to say I WANT to WANT to blog, but, well, I haven't WANTED to. I'm fickle like that. And it's not like my 3 readers will care. Most of them get the live version of this side-show.

But I thought I'd wait until I had something really blog-worthy before I made my re-entry. Let's see.... Pictures of my new woods floors? Boring. Camping with a bunch of Jesus freaks? Nah. Capsizing our canoe on a float trip? Whatever. Jamming some air guitar at a family wedding? Blah. Mom's wedding? Eh.

Oh I know.... more farm stories! Also known as the WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND LEAVES THE FARM IN ROB AND LAURA'S HANDS chronicles. Um,
Sis? Eventually this is gonna bite you in the *ss. You know that, right?

So the other day I'm minding my own business, working in my yard preparing for the first of five parties we were set to host, when Rob tells me he's heading to the farm to check on a laboring mama cow.


And when he asks if I'd like to join him, I thought for a moment - pull 4-foot tall thistles or witness the birth of new life? - and answered, "hellsa ya."

When we arrived at the farm, we saw Mama Cow lying on her side with the calf's hooves hanging out of her.
This must be a good sign, thought we, the rookie farmer posers, and we grabbed a soda and some popcorn, and prepared to be entertained.


We weren't the only nosy ones. These little calves were curious about us. So while we watched Mama Cow, baby cows watched us.


And these buggers were no help. They insisted on blocking our view of Mama Cow. We'd move further down the fence row; so would they. Cute, yes, but gah - MOVE YER RAWHIDE, wouldja?

They paid a bit too much attention to Mama Cow too, sniffing around her while she labored. Finally, she tired of the attention, leaped up and began head-butting the offending cow.

"I'll give birth AND kick your *ss, b*tch."

Never, ever, mess with a mama in labor.

Eventually, what with all the stress of a nosy audience and, well, FIGHTING while laboring, we noticed Mama Cow wasn't progressing. With each push, the calf's hooves would emerge, but after each contraction was over they'd recede back in. And Mama Cow would again stand up, ask if any other cows wanted a piece of her, and gaze at me as if to say, "Can't you DO something?" before lying down again with the next contraction.

That's when the seriousness of the situation began to sink in. Here we were, sipping soda and munching popcorn like we were at a feature matinee, giddily talking about how great that we were going to witness a live birth right here in the cornfields, when we started realizing we might actually have a wee, tiny problem on our hands.

Sometimes a first-time mama cow has trouble birthing. She gets too tired. Or the calf isn't positioned properly. And sometimes, the calf needs to be pulled. And by pulled I mean CHAINS TIED TO ITS LEGS AND PULLED. Holy freakin' haybales, what do we do now?

real farmers were on vacation, and even when they're around they need help pulling a calf. Mom and her husband weren't around. And my sister had just blogged about the whole it's bad if you pull too soon and it's bad if you don't pull soon enough thing. I grabbed the bag of popcorn, dumped its contents, and began hyperventilating into it while Rob called my sister.

We got the number of Farmer Scott who lives down the road and is their #1 go-to guy in these kinds of emergencies, and THANK THE HIGHER POWER he answered his cell phone and said he'd be right over. My sister stayed on the phone with us, reminding us that we'd be just fine with Farmer Scott's help, and began giving us instructions.

Rob and Farmer Scott managed to get Mama Cow into the chute in the time it took me to run to the main farm and retrieve the pulling equipment.

I climbed into the barn to help to take pictures.

Farmer Scott adeptly secured the chains around the right spot on the calf's legs (wrong spot and you'll break its legs *shudder*) while Rob and I waited for instructions. Sometimes it takes two people to pull a calf if the Mama Cow isn't helping much. But Farmer Scott decided to give it a whirl on his own.

WARNING: The following Graphic Photos may make you puke up in your mouth a little bit.

Farmer Scott braced his legs against the door frame and pulled, while I balanced precariously over a rusty stall gate. Pulling calves is tricky! I almost fell. And there's 6 inches of slurry manure on that barn floor.

VERY quickly the calf began to emerge. Mama Cow was all over helping by pushing. Farmer Scott was all "C'mon.... C'mon...." and Mama Cow was all "I'm bringin' it! I'm briiiingin' it!" and I was all "Could you move a little to the left so I can get a better shot?"

It was only a matter of seconds before Baby Calf was born. Farmer Scott went from pulling to catching. Ever try to catch a greased-up 80lb calf? That was tricky. I would've helped but, you know, it happened so fast.

Immediately Farmer Scott began sticking straw into the calf's nostrils, causing it to gasp and begin to breathe. Hey, it's better than a slap on the *ss, isn't it?

There were a few nerve-wracking moments as we wondered if Baby Calf was ok. She just layed there.... she was breathing, but not moving much.
Farmer Scott lifted her out into the barnyard so we could release Mama Cow and let her find her babe.

Which she did. She immediately began licking the babe. And licking. And licking. Licky lick lick. Precious.

And no sooner had she gotten a good sniffing in did she begin urging her babe to stand up. "There'll be no lazy calves on MY watch. There is grass to eat, and.... well, grass to eat.... and, well... just get up. I can't stand laziness."

And she did.

She wobbled and flopped and rose and fell, and eventually she began to get the hang of those knobby little legs.


Farmer Scott left, and Rob and I high-fived that we survived our first-ever calf-pulling - and more importantly, Mama Cow and Baby Calf survived!

And I would've settled back in with my popcorn, but I had dried cow blood under my nails.

This farmin' business is rough on a grrrl's manicure.


Heart Rockin Mama said...

'bout fraken time!
I missed your blog and was so excited to see an update. Wondering what could have brought you back... you did not disappoint!
How are your nerves? I would have been nuts!
Sweet story, sweet momma, sweet baby.
Thanks for sharing!
Welcome back!

Jen said...

Hi Laura!

It's nice too see that you FINALLY updated your Blog! I'm been waiting for NEW updates for awhile!

Please check out my Blog at well! It GREAT too have you back!


Ronnie said...

Nice to have you back! And what a great story!

FLO said...

Great story! I love happy endings.

debra said...

So now you can add bovine midwife support team to your resume.

gail said...

This was just an awesome story and the pictures amazing...nice to see you blogging..I've missed YOU!

Kez said...

Well, that was certainly worth breaking your blogging silence for!! Wow!

Jackie said...

Since you did such a good job, Marcel and I are booking a month-long Meditteranean cruise. Have fun with the next one.....

(Great job, BTW!! And THANK YOU!)

Love, the "real" farmer

Madeline Rains said...

She's back!!! Yay. We'd been discussing getting cows this week, having little idea of what this really means. Thanks for the enlightenment. I'll definitely be the photographer.

I love a happy ending too.

Charlie Roy said...

I was wondering when the next post would come. Pretty amazing stuff. I spent Thursday at the Ag High School in Chicago. Didn't see anything that cool though.

Silvia said...

So cool! Great pics, and as always, funny storytelling. :) I didn't even puke in my mouth one little bit. All I've ever seen is a hen lay an egg. Nothing gross there and def. nothing to pull. LOL I bet you get a cow for your birthday, now that you know all about them. :)

piscesgrrl said...

Good gosh, Silvia, I hope not! :)

Anonymous said...

HOly COW! In all the years I have heard about "calf pulling" I have never actually seen one, until now. Thanks for the photos! Great post,lady!

Heart Rockin Mama said...

Kelly got her pony. Maybe you WILL get a cow.
Just sayin.

Pi said...

I just have to say how glad I am to be a boy...
I feel so sorry that you women go through this...
nice pics laura!

MamaTea said...

Just tripped upon your blog again...loved this post. I laughed so hard I cried. And my six year old wanted to know why a baby cow was being pulled out with chains.

Well, my's how it happens.... :)

I'll be adding your blog to my bloglist. You're too funny :)

Chris said...

I must say, this is the funniest post I've ever seen on a blog. Ever. Seriously. You are way too funny, Laura! What a cool experience. And I was SO happy to see a post from ya. I was missing your writing!


Ren said...

This was SO kewl to read. I really need to check in more often.

Jen said...

Hey Laura!

NICE JOB! I knew you could it! Keep up the good work! I'll yak at you later!


virginia bed and breakfast said...

These are all the great places and beautiful animal travel as well. All are the tranquil and green travel which are too pleasurable and environment-friendly as well.

Penta said...

WOW! Excellent reporting and photo journalism! :) And funny to boot! :)

Loved that!

Penta said...

WOW! Excellent reporting and photo journalism! :) And funny to boot! :)

Loved that!