Saturday, March 14, 2009
Betty's Bovine Nursery is Officially Open!
Most of you know we live on a farm and Jim raises cows as a hobby (my opinion, its too hard of work for a hobby). He tries to plan for the cows to start having their calves around the first of March, notice I said plan. Well last fall one of the bulls decided he didn't agree with that plan (just like a male) so he just went ahead and got in with the cows a little sooner. So, calves started coming during the ice storm the end of January. For those of you who don't understand the reasoning behind this, I will do my best to inform you what little "cattle ranching" I know! If babies are born in the really cold bad weather and the mommas don't take good care of them immediately they could freeze, or have problems, this means they need mommy assistance of the two legged kind. In years past Jim's mom has always taken the babies into her home and did whatever they needed to keep them alive, build up their strength, warm them, or whatever! Well last year neither of Jim's parents were feeling well when the first baby needed help, so, what does my loving husband do..... he calls me from the hillside on his cellphone and tells me he needs to bring a baby to the house. My first thought was I don't like the smell of cow poop, and what other stuff was there going to be to clean up. What was he getting me in to? If I remember correctly we had 6 different babies in my bovine nursery last year. In March I had two at one time, now that was quite the experience, and you think one of our babies can make a lot of noise at night! We only had one fatality last year, that little fellow was just too big, and the birthing process was too long and hard on him. Needless to say Cari and Libby could not believe that I let Jim bring baby calves in the house, they thought I had lost it for sure this time. Jim's parents have since had to go stay with his brother and sister-in-law in Camden, so I don't have any backup help now, so earlier this year I told Jim he needed to make sure that all deliveries ran smoothly, that all babies were born healthy, and the mommies did their jobs. He just laughed at me! (Of course I knew that you seldom ever get through a calving season without any problems)
So last night around 7 p.m. the phone rings, Jim tells me he has had to pull a calf, the baby is alive, the momma not doing so well, so I might need to open the bovine nursery. He had to go back and get the tractor and finish feeding the cows, would be home in a while. He comes in, says the momma hasn't gotten up (not good) and after supper he's going back to check on them. About an hour later he leaves with a heavy towel to dry the baby and in hopes they are both doing okay. He's only gone like 10 minutes and I have this feeling that things are not good. He comes in the back door and says, "time for me to open the nursery"!!! Let me inform you of what is now involved in opening this nursery-since I got the puppy for Christmas the cat has been "jailed" in the utility room, aka nursery, SO we move the cat into the main bathroom, some stuff has to go to the garage, because you need lots of room for these "outdoor" children, and I start pulling out all the linens, etc. for drying, cleaning, and warming this little guy who has been born in 30 degree weather, who is very wet and cold. Once we are ready, Jim goes out to the car, carries the baby in(65 pounds)and I go to warming towels, etc. In the meantime Sassy(puppy) is not too sure about all of this and thinks that every time he makes a noise or moves she needs to bark, which scares the little guy, so we have to try to shush her, not an easy task, and then of course she still doesn't know that she is a tiny thing and wants to be right in the middle of the excitement. It takes about an hour to get him warm enough he's not shaking and is able to try to stand up-this is Jim's job, seeing as the calf weighs almost as much as I do. He does pretty good standing and is ready for some milk. We fix him a bottle and thankfully he does a good job sucking and drinks it down. Mind you, every baby that comes through my nursery gets a name. Jim didn't keep up with them very well last year after they were released from my care, but he is suppose to this year! So Freddy was the first to be cared for in 2009. It was after 11 o'clock before we got to go to bed and by 1:30 am Freddy was ready to play. Jim fed him again at 4 this morning, so it was not a good night for sleeping! Jim went to check on the momma this morning and we don't think she is going to make it, Freddy was her first and that's a big baby to have the first time around. So Jim came home, we fed Freddy again, and he went ahead and took him back up to the barn lot, in case by the momma seeing the baby it might help her, but doesn't look like it will. So now Jim has a baby to feed twice a day. Then comes the fun part of cleaning up....washing the "dirty" linens, cleaning the floor, etc. Gotta be prepared for the next one he says!!! I really don't mind all of this especially if its on the weekend, but I don't like it for Jim or the babies, because it means there is a problem which causes more work for him. He said last night that a little over half have had their babies, so I am praying that the rest(about 60) go as well or better than the first half. If you ever need some on hand experience with baby calves let me know and I'll give you a call next time the nursery has to open.