Flora’s calf is finally here.
I had a very long day on Tuesday, with work and then a medical appointment in Vermont (a four-hour commute). I did not get home until late, and then had to do barn chores. We ate dinner and celebrated my birthday at nearly 8 PM. By 9:30 I was headed upstairs to bed. Lucy took the dogs out for their pre-bedtime walk in the rain and came in to say, “Mom, one of your cows is bellowing.”
Of course! After all my careful watching, perfect timing! Pitch dark and raining and in the back of the pasture!
Splashing through the driveway puddles I jockeyed both the car and truck around to shine their headlights into the field. Through the sweep of the windshield wipers I could barely make out Flora’s black shape along the far fenceline.
I could not go into the pasture to check on her. Any cow might charge in that tense situation, and I don’t yet have the trusting relationship with Flora that I’ve had with Katika and Moxie. Meanwhile, not only was Flora excited and bellowing, but so was Red, my heavy-necked yearling bull, also in the pasture. So I remained outside the fence, peering through the dark and rain.
At last I saw a flash of white near the ground. Flora had been bred to a Hereford so I’ve known that her calf was bound to have a white face. The calf had arrived! Since there was nothing else I could do, I went to bed.
Yesterday morning I waited eagerly for the sun to come up. In the gray dawn Flora lay placidly chewing her cud. I could see no calf. What?
At last everyone roused themselves and the tiny black calf stood up in the grass. The teenaged boys were intensely curious and Flora warily protective, but in a short time everyone retired to their corners for a milk breakfast. (I took these photos with the zoom on my old farm camera.)
Soon afterward I called the cows into the barn. However, with a bellyful of warm milk the calf had fallen asleep again and Flora would not leave it, even to come to the fence for grain. I went off to move the sheep to fresh grass.
When I returned Flora was willing to bring her baby down to the barn…
but not inside it. Though normally herd animals are frantic when they are separated from the herd, Flora was perfectly content hanging out with her newborn in the paddock near the run-in shed.
I think the baby is a bull calf but I can’t be certain from a distance. I hope to be able to bring all the cattle into the barn today, in which case I can find out for sure. (And yes, repairs to and re-painting the run-in shelter are on my summer list.)
I’m always relieved when awaited babies are safely on the ground, and in this case my heart is particularly light. No milking chores! No udder worries! No milk fever anxiety! No horns to address! O happy day.
Yesterday was my last day of teacher meetings. Today I have a full day of work writing reports. Once I get them done I will be free for the summer. I have to be disciplined, because I can hardly wait. It’s been a long year of too many worries and too little sleep.