During my evening cow check the other night I saw a cow that I knew would have a calf by morning. She's a big mature simmental so I assumed everything would go smoothly.
When I checked on her the next morning I was met with bad news. She was standing over her calf which hadn't made it. I then saw another calf about 30 feet away which hadn't made it either. She had thrown twins and neither of them lived. What a Monday. This created an interesting situation in that we are currently bottle feeding two other calves. So I began prepping the corral to get her up and commence Operation Bottle Calf Transplant. My wife is a teacher and had been off the entire summer but it just so turns out that it was her first day of in-service and she wouldn't be available for any of the excitement that day. The plan to get the cow into the corral went smoothly as our entire herd loves feed. This smoothness changed as it started to rain. Once I got the other cows sorted back out of the corral I went to grab some hoses and tubs to allow me to get her some water. By the time I got back she had began pushing the cattle panels around and noticed some daylight where there was a depression in the ground. She stuck her head under the panel, lifted it up, and pushed her way to freedom. The rain began to fall harder. I jumped back in the truck and grabbed some fence posts and a post driver. I pounded a few fence posts in for support and did a much better job this time of setting up the cattle panels. So began feeding time 2.0. Again she likes feed so this wasn't all that difficult. Sorted the other cows and I was back where I had been 45 minutes prior. I then used the opportunity to get some colostrum from her that I could freeze for future use if need be. Being an inexperienced milker (this was my first time) I thought I did pretty well. At this point I needed to get back to the office for a meeting so I dried off and headed back in.
Later that afternoon I conned a couple of guys from work to help me 'Transport' the two calves from their pen to the corral. Since I don't have a trailer handy, this involved two of us each grabbing a calf, jumping in the back of the truck, and keeping them from jumping out while being driven to the corral. There were of course manure casualties encountered along the way. Once we got them into the corral I was able to get the cow into the chute and convinced the calves that there was food in that big cow.
Over the course of the day I experienced many frustrating moments. I wouldn't describe myself as a patient person so farming has been a great way for me to grow in this area. As I looked back on the day I tried to think of the good instead of the annoying.
Blessings that I didn't think about while driving fence posts in the rain because one of my cows had lost two calves and had escaped my previous attempt at containing her in the corral:
- I have a job with the flexibility to handle various issues that may arise on a given day.
- It rained and we desperately needed it.
- Helpful friends willing to give a hand when needed.
- Facilities that allow me to access the underside of the cow to milk it and attempt to get the calves to feed.
- My kids are being raised on a farm where many life lessons (life and death, responsibility, patience, persistence) can be learned.
Ultimately the cow accepted one of the calves on day 6 which I counted as a win. Everyone is currently doing great.
So the next time you have somewhere you need to be and you see the neighbor's bull has broken into your heifer pen, try to remember...well maybe that was a bad example. Just don't forget to count your blessings as you encounter the challenges associated with farming.