It had been raining in the night – another ¾” of precipitation to augment the mud. My first circle revealed a new calf in the night and a 2-year-old trying to calve. I ran the heifer into the shed and returned to the house for a jug of warm soapy water.
The heifer had made no progress, and her behavior suggested that she had been in labor for awhile, so I ran her into the stanchion and went in after the calf.
The calf was indeed a little large, and the heifer’s contractions were getting weak. When I had the calf out I could see that his head had started to swell from pushing up against the pelvis. But he was strong and healthy - another death averted.
The rain had turned to snow when I brought in the heifer bunch to sort off heavies again. My buckskin mare handled the job well – she’ll be a genuine cow-horse by the time calving is finished.
By evening the snow was starting to accumulate, and a cow was acting suspicious in the far corner. Sure enough, she had licked her calf under the fence. I drug him back under the wire, loaded him into the sled and headed for the shed with his mother following.
Had she calved on a flat spot, she’d have licked the calf off and he’d have nursed already. But she’d gone as far away as she could go to give birth, and the calf had slid out of her reach – he was still soaking wet and had already expended critical energy reserves trying to maintain body heat. With an attentive mother and dry ground beneath him he would soon be refueling from his mother’s udder.