In honor of Mother's Day, I thought we would take a look at our most recent mother here on the farm. We have only had one calf this year, so we only have one mother. There are two calves coming soon, but they are not going to make it in time for Mother's Day.
I guess this was actually a Mother's weekend. Back in February, the boys were going to a show by themselves. We had back to back show weekends, and I had a lot of things that I needed to get done at home. It was also hot and heavy into calving season at another show family's farm. We decided to compromise. Daniel, our boys, and Nick would go to the show and Rog and I would hold things down at the home/farm front. On show day, Rog and I would head down to the show. It was the perfect plan to manage responsibilities and still support our kids.
Daniel called me right before he headed out of town on Friday evening. He had checked Rachel and he was pretty sure that she was going to calve before the weekend was over.
Great! I was on baby watch.
I should probably explain Rachel. She is a beautiful cow and walks like a princess. However, she was always a handful for Walker in the show ring. Walker tends to be more timid and her constant head throwing and cantankerous attitude didn't help him any. Walker fought through the show season...but with his fare share of tears.
She has always hated change, so we learned to expect craziness for at least the first 15 minutes of any new situation. She is a gorgeous cow, so we just learned to deal with it. We were glad when her show career was over and we could put her out to pasture.
Rachel and Daniel have never gotten along. She flips out at the sight of Daniel, so the boys have to do most of the work with her. Over time she has added new "enemies." First it was Walker, so he won't even go out in the pasture if she was around. Then she started coming after Isaac in the pastures. You know it's bad when Isaac won't go out in the field with the cows.
I could go out in the field and Rachel wouldn't bother me. She would even let me pet her. Then, one day, I was taking pictures and she decided I had outstayed my welcome. She promptly tried to head butt me out of the field.
We all know to keep our distance and always watch our back. I am convinced she is bi-polar or was dropped on her head as a baby or something. Why is she still around? Because she is a beautiful cow and we really wanted a calf out of her. She has some nice features that we really want to add to our herd (obviously not the attitude).
Anyway, back to the events of the weekend...
I checked Rachel before I went to bed on Friday night.
Everything was fine.
I trudged out to the paddock with the spolight at 3:00 a.m.
Everything was fine.
I checked her Saturday morning.
Everything was fine.
I had too much to do to come out and check on a crazy cow!
I stood in the driveway on Saturday afternoon and she was acting fine and I didn't see anything unusual...from a distance. She looked back at me with that "why do you keep staring at me" look.
I left for the grocery store.
When I got home a few hours later, I headed out to the barn to do the evening chores.
I was tired. Whenever I am home alone and don't have anyone interrupting me or wanting me to feed them, I get a lot done...and wear myself out. I just wanted to do chores, unload groceries, take a shower and hit the couch.
I headed out to check on Rachel. She was acting a little more aggressive (which again, since she is bi-polar, doesn't really mean anything). She kept turning in circles and wouldn't let me check her back end.
Finally she turned around.
I had no idea how long she had been in labor. I called Daniel. Nick was right beside him and immediately called his dad (Rog) to come over and help me. I din't want Rog to come. I didn't want to be that wussy farm wife that can't do anything. Besides, I knew Rog was busy at home and Rachel would probably pop that calf out before he ever got here. They called anyway.
I stood and watched...and waited. She would have contractions, but wasn't making any progress. It was getting darker, she was agitated, and by this point, I was on the other side of the fence trying to see what was going on.
Where was Rog????!!!!
Maybe the calf was breech?
I can't go in the pasture, she would come after me.
I need to get her to the barn.
How in the world am I going to get crazy mamma into the barn by myself?
Where is Rog???!!!!!!!!!
By the time Rog arrived, it was almost dark. The first thing he wanted to do was get her in the barn. Rachel proceeded to run from one end of the paddock to the other.
My question is, How in the world can she be in hard labor and run like that?
I am not afraid of cows and I have had lots of practice herding a stray cow into the barn. I know you stand your ground. However....I know Rachel will run me over! It is not fear...it is a fact and everyone in our family will confirm it.
Rog probably thought I was crazy, but every time she turned and headed my way, I politely stepped aside and let her run by. After 3 or 4 attempts we finally got her penned in the barn. We were worn out so I am sure that Rachel was worn out.
I am sure that Rog figured out that I wasn't going to be much help with pulling a calf. Don't worry, I am not offended, because I am sure it is true. He rigged up a lariat to help leverage and pull that calf out.
Rachel was very accomodating.
She had a healthy little bull calf!
I was trying to juggle the camera, help Rog, and of course, Daniel kept calling me. All of our show family was at dinner together and anxiously awaiting the news.
Rachel is a good mother. She took to her calf right away and did everything that she was supposed to.
I sent Daniel a picture taken from the outside of the pen. Of course I got a good picture of the calf's back end.
He wanted a better picture and wanted to see the head.
I gingerly went into the pen, making sure that I went around the outside and didn't come between Rachel and the calf.
She was having none of that!
She promptly head butted me into the gate.
Lesson learned. DO NOT go into Rachel's stall.
Everyone was just going to have to deal with bad pictures.
I headed inside to unload groceries (hours later), eat dinner and take a shower.
Rachel was doing a good job of cleaning off the calf. I was hoping and praying that he would stand and nurse on his own, because I obviously couldn't go into the stall and help that situation.
By the time I came back out to the barn, the calf was trying to stand.
And then he nursed all on his own!!!
This calf is Mitchell, our Grand Champion bull's, first offspring, and we are very pleased with how he is turning out. He is a healthy little tank.
Rachel is calming down and is getting a little more accepting of us.
The Miniature Hereford breed is known for being a very docile breed. All of our other cows have let us do anything with their calves. We can even get between mamma and the calf and they don't care a bit. We have put some of our cows into very uncomfortable positions and situations during calving, and none of them have ever lashed out at us.
Rachel is just unique. We just go with the flow. Her future here on our farm is still up for debate. She gave us a wonderful calf, but we haven't decided if the other issues are worth it. I do know for a fact that she is a cow that will not be going to another farm.
Rachel is a good mamma. She may not be the most sane mamma, but she takes care of her calf well. She is very protective, but that's what mamma's do. Maybe with age and more mamma experience she will calm down. Time will only tell.
The calf has not taken on Rachel's disposition. He is so easy to work with and learns very quickly. His favorite "game" is to go up behind the other cows and just flip their tails with his nose. The other cows are very accommodating.
To all the mother's out there on this Mother's Day weekend. You may be a little crazy sometimes (we all are), but that doesn't mean you aren't a good mama.
Sit back, put your feet up and let everyone tell you what a great mamma you are.
Happy Mother's Day!
You might also like...
Hello! I am Heather... the city girl turned mom to manure loving country boys. My husband and I both grew up in the city, but spent weekends visiting grandparents in the country. We are first generation farmers who learn best by almost always doing things the hard way. I hope you enjoy following along with our adventures down on the farm.