Luckily Pavla needed me to hold the shop reins yesterday and not today.
This morning, after I’d rushed about showering, laundering, bed and bread making in the dark (such mornings and I don’t mix), I peered out to make sure I could see in front of my nose, donned overalls, boots, tried to control raucous dogs and made for the truck to begin the morning stock check.
As soon as I started up the truck a bellowing came from Dillings. Wobbler? Most definitely Wobbler. She was letting me know that something had changed – Heather calving?
We, the dogs and I, belted up the drive and sure enough there, in the breaking dawn under the lower hedge amongst bracken and soft grasses well sheltered from the weather, Heather was beginning to strain. The tips of two hooves and a tongue visible. A quick check to see that all was well before I belted back down the drive to collect iodine, ropes and calving tool in case they were needed. Back up again and over to the cow who was, in just those few minutes, already slowly and magnificently, rhythmically pulsing the rest of a large calf from her body.
A beautiful, healthy heifer calf.
I left them to become acquainted and bond with one another whilst I did my rounds of the rest of the stock. On my way back for breakfast the calf was up and sucking strongly. The weather, though, had changed from a mild, watercolour streaked morning to an ominous, dark, water-filled cloud one.
Then the rain began, torrential and persistent, reminiscent of our summer.
After lunch we decided to get Heather and the calf in – worried that she could become hypothermic in the relentless rain. I wanted to bring them down to the bull pen near the house so they’d be close at hand if a problem arose. We used our very large wheelbarrow to move the calf. Provided you can keep the calf still it’s a good method of transport as the dam can still see and touch her calf and doesn’t become too anxious, following along quite easily.
It was rather touching…when we arrived up at the field the three cows had surrounded the baby calf and older calf, sheltering them from the rain and providing warmth with their body mass. They decided they all wanted to accompany the baby and new mother down to the farmhouse – just to check we were doing things right (also cows are never happy in very small groups and tend to become unsettled).
Mother and baby are now warm and snug in the bull pen. Wobbs, Iona and Lottie are keeping an eye on them over the gate of the adjacent field.