My little Jersey cow, Moxie, whom I rescued back in 2010 (as a result of her rough childhood she’s missing one ear and half her tail), is due to calve soon.
In the photo above, taken yesterday at evening chores, she is munching on some poplar in a newly-fenced section of the back acres.
A blood test last fall told me Moxie was pregnant, but because she was field bred, I had no idea of a due date. About ten days ago I noticed that her udder was beginning to fill out — in cows this is called “bagging up.” Three days ago the udder suddenly swelled to become tight. Now the ligaments around her tail are relaxing. Instead of the month I was planning on for preparation, I think I will be lucky to have a few days.
Last year, in her first calving, Moxie’s udder swelled to such proportions that by the day she calved she was squirting milk with every step. We’re not quite there yet. But almost.
Before the calf arrives I have to rearrange the stalls in the barn — the steers will go into the big empty sheep stall, I have to reassemble the milking stanchion, and Moxie’s stall must be scoured and renewed with hay over shavings to prepare for the new calf.
The sticking point is that before I can take the first step, I have to muck out the old deep bedding in the sheep stall. This tri-annual job is a back-breaking one even when it’s not over 80° F with thunderstorms. But it must be done.
I think I’ll have another cup of coffee as I gird my loins for this day.