Thursday, December 14, 2006

Taffy the Calfy

Taffy two days old

Here's the picture I promised of the new calf. We've named her even though everyone says not to. The thing is, we don't know yet if we'll eat her or milk her. And meanwhile, she's going to hang around our farm for the next two years. Our herd is only 3 cows and the other two girls have names, why not her? And if we don't name her, she'll be "Isabella's calf" for the next two years which is a name without being a name. Confused? That's okay. All that really matters is that we did name her and her name is Taffy.

Roger was teasing me about wanting to name her and suggested Calfy Walfy. Then later Stephen suggested the same name. So I said, okay, it can rhyme. How about Taffy? And as soon as I said it I knew it was perfect. Especially the way she seemed to stre-e-e-etch as Roger pulled her from Isabella. And hopefully she'll have a sweet nature with delicious milk in the future. If not, at least she'll be good eatin in some way, right? Just so we don't have to do the processing.

I'll tell you a bit about our calving experience since Roger is so busy these days. Although he has a different perspective. I mostly watched as I was holding Gloria throughout the whole thing.

I went outside to see what Stephen was doing with a rooster he was carrying. He took it to the killing cones, plunked it in, then disappeared. Meanwhile, Clark was running toward me. Turns out Clark had reached Stephen first and told him Bella was in labor, so Stephen decided to kill the rooster he was mad at after checking on Bella. Two hours later, his anger dissipated and the calf here, I sent him to release the chicken. I don't know if it was still there, but I know we never ended up with fresh chicken to eat. But what Clark told me was that Isabella was about to have her calf because she was laying down and her udder looked huge. I rolled my eyes thinking it was another false alarm. But I grabbed my cell phone in case I needed to call Roger and headed out to the pasture. Isabella was lying down in the dry creek bed. She looked very relaxed, but her back end looked open. I called Roger to let him know as much. So he's telling me he has a meeting and can't come home while she starts to push. I saw something black looking and thought it might be a hoof so he said he was on his way. It turned out to be her bag of waters, but what did I know? It was clear soon though as it swelled up like a big water balloon with her next push. Then another push or two and it popped. At that point she surprised us all by getting up and walking over to drink the fluid. That thoroughly disgusted us all and I'm not sure my girls have gotten over that yet.

Soon enough the hooves were out. She seemed to stall then. Roger tried to pull and she let out the loudest most pained sounding noise I've ever heard. I asked him to let her do it herself. Call me weird but I thought there was a connection of some sort between Isabella and I. She stayed calm through contractions, but would lock eyes with me. I just sat and prayed for her while feeling her pain. At some point, Roger moved and sat in between us. She seemed to lose concentration at that point and never really regained her strength. I don't know if it's a coincidence or not. I should have asked him to move, but figured I was just being weird. Anyway, she ended up laying down and just kind of breathing through contractions with little pushes. Then she started to just breathe through them. The whole head was out and the calf kept looking around and shaking its head. Maybe this is normal, but I was worried that Bella was just worn out. I was about to ask Roger to just pull it out now, when he got up and did so. That's when I thought it looked like pulling taffy. Bella never did want to get up. After a while, Roger and Stephen rolled her back up because she was rolled almost onto her back. As soon as they did, she got up and went to her calf and started the endless job of licking her. I'm so glad humans don't do that. But I think that maybe her almost upside down position made it harder for her to push. She'd kind of rolled slightly down a hill.

All is well now. We're letting the calf nurse for the first week and we'll see how it goes after that. We have a bottle ready so Taffy can have milk after the colustrum is past. But we certainly want milk, too! Meanwhile, it's store-bought pasteurized, homogenized milk for another week. On the bright side, there's an Allsups nearby and for every 12 gallons you buy, you get one free. That gives us a free gallon per week! But we can't wait to get REAL milk soon!!

Melissa

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