19 April 2024


Blossom came to us immediately after she was born.Β  Her mother was one of those very painfully old cows some people like to keep around and let die on the place. She managed to push her calf out, then was done.

The calf wasn’t moving. We grabbed towels and went to rubbing her down. She laid in the grass in the sun in front of the barn on a warm spring day as she slowly woke up and eventually started to move. We gave her a bottle. Then tried to give her a mom. When no one would accept her and she wouldn’t accept them we took her and kept her for us. She grew up alongside Ghost. Our two bottle calves, cows now, life long companions.

As a cow she is great, when she calves. Raises a calf as big as she is. But she hasn’t bred back well. I really thought she was open this year. She showed no signs of calving. Until two days ago. She was running with the late and open cows out on corn stalks when I spotted signs of immanent calving. In no rush because she had just started showing signs I took Rusty out yesterday and we brought her in. She got to go in the calving lot with the other cows who are getting close. Up where she could be watched and would be close to help if needed.

This morning, the very next day, she was ready to calve. Good thing I didn’t wait any longer to bring her in. But, she’s an old pro. This shouldn’t be a problem.

All day I watched her. She paced then stood off by herself. Then this afternoon she laid down and got to it. But nothing happened. I had been watching and worrying because something just felt off. Before the water bag even showed I was checking her every half hour. Waiting for a sign of actual lack of progress so I’d have reason to bring her in. Then finally the water bag. She had half an hour. I carefully checked the time, then came inside, paced a little myself, washed dishes, got super ready and decided at twenty minutes that I was going back out.

There was no change. She was coming in.

My long suffering husband had come along, poor guy. He helped as we pushed her to the barn. Got her ran in while I got the chute ready. Held her tail as I reached in past my armpit.

The hooves were pointing the right way, pointy side up. Pointy side down means the calf is backwards. It appeared to be the right way, but I couldn’t feel the head. Thinking it must be turned back I groped about. Then I realized that instead of knees I was feeling hocks. It WAS backwards. And upside down. Yay. Thinking back to all the reading I’ve done about this scenario I seemed to recall reading that they couldn’t be pulled this way. Everything was bent the wrong direction.

A glove was pulled as I made a frantic call to the vet. It was after hours, of course, but she was in the office! She assured me that it could be done. Try to find the tail head. Use that to try to rotate the calf. If you can’t rotate the calf it can still work. Go ahead and try. She would be at the clinic for awhile if we couldn’t get it.

With that reassurance I dove back in.

We had brought Blossom in before she spent too much time pushing. The calf was still well down inside. Searching for the tailhead I kept reaching. Up to the shoulder. Ear pressed against her tail. Still no sign of the calf’s tail. I was going to need a shower immediately. Giving up on rotating I went for the calf chains instead. The feet were small, the chains went on fairly easy. And we pulled. The calf was tiny. Good old Blossom is a big cow. We pulled crosswise trying to straighten out the calf as we pulled.

And it came. It came out with amazing ease, rotating on the way.

Soon a perfect little heifer splashed to the ground.

Dragging her out of the chute, into the barn, we propped her on her belly in recovery position. She sputtered and coughed and breathed. With a sigh of relief we let Blossom out to great her new baby. Her first heifer.

Her first heifer who is alive and healthy because we didn’t wait any longer to see if Blossom would be able to calve on her own. A mature cow shouldn’t need any more than half an hour to calve once the water bag is out. An hour if you are sure you are seeing progress. After half an hour there were no feet visible. There was no reason to wait any longer.

This is also the reason we bring cows into the corrals to calve. If Blossom had still been out on cornstalks I wouldn’t have known she was having problems and if I had caught them it would have been a long walk for her and that calf to a place where we would be able to help them. It isn’t that we want to make the cows stay in small corrals. It’s that we want the cows safe and close so we can help when needed.

Blossom and her pretty little heifer are both alive and well, and spending the night in the barn. Now I need a name for a Blossom baby. Spring, for spring Blossoms? May? It’s spingy and will fit easily on an eartag.


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