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Beulah’s calf

Saturday we woke early and prepared to go to new farm to work, knowing full well that Beulah was due any second. Gary rode up right before she left and found there was no change. So off we went.

We worked at the house about 4 hours and returned home. It was a hot summer day that threatened to break out with a thunderstorm in the afternoon. Gary went up to check Beulah after we got home and found she had started labor. sort of. She was walking around without a care, with a small foot protruding from under her tail! The fact that she was not pushing at all concerned me, and I could tell by the color of the membranes that accompanied the foot that the calf had excreted while in the womb (Meconium ) and that is never good.
I thought we were a little bit out of our skill range and suggested we call the vet. Gary agreed. Here’s a tip: if you ever need to come visit us here, please do not use your GPS or even online mapping sites. They will send you waaaaay out of your way.
The vet who arrived was the same who had worked on Liddy earlier this spring so I knew we were in good hands. Beulah was secured in a makeshift chute made from tube gates and we got to work. As I thought, the hoof that was protruding was a rear foot, meaning the calf was coming out backwards.
After a little bit of jostling around and a lot of lube, the calf slid out. We all thought he was a goner, but he coughed! He breathed!
The vets hit the road to their next call, and we went to work cleaning the calf off, and tried to get Beulah to take her calf. But she was done. For the next couple hours we alternated working to get Beulah to take her calf with leaving them alone. If we left them alone, the calf would be at one end of the pasture and Beulah at the other. This is not conducive to nursing!
The first day of milk from mama are the most important meals a calf (puppy, goat, sheep etc) can have. It is full of colostrum which provides the baby with antibodies and immunities to what the mama has been exposed to. It makes the baby healthier. This baby had none.
So it was time to place Beulah back in our makeshift chute and if we couldn’t get the calf to nurse, milk Beulah to get him some dinner. We discovered even when restrained, Beulah has precise aim with her kicks and knocked the calf down everytime. Likewise when we milked her, she was very good at kicking our container. As we worked a storm approached. Our neighbor had also joined us: he had ridden up to the fields to check the wild raspberry harvest and stayed with us. His family used to farm our fields and he told us of being struck by lightning years ago, “right over there,” he said, when they were doing hay. Soon after he said that, the storm was upon us. We kept working on getting some milk for the calf. I held a rope that restrained the back end of Beulah and I looked out on the spot our neighbor had said was struck by lightning before. Gary was under the cow working at getting milk. Our neighbor leaned over the fence. The rain was coming down hard with bits of hail.


I watched as lightning hit that spot, travelled down the barbed wire fence, knocked Gary to his feet and the neighbor jumped and yelled. Lightning had struck again! Luckily Beulah was unaffected and didn’t bolt either. Our ears rang and Gary was clearly shaken.

But we still had work to do and continued milking this cow to get the calf his first meal. Milking beef cows is not exactly easy in the best conditions.

Once the storm passed, our neighbor left us, still laughing about his recent experience. Our calf was fed and was bellowing for more. Beulah almost seemed interested, and we left them both in the field that night.

But morning came, and Beulah still had no interest in the calf. Gary tried milking Beulah once or twice more but it was clear that Beulah had no more interest in this excercise, and Gary has the bruises to prove it. The calf will have to be bottle fed from now on.

The calf is now in a stall in the barn and Gary feeds him twice a day with replacer. The calf also gets a shot of penicillin every day to counter the meconium he may have ingested while being born.

Posted in Cattle.

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