plannin’ and dreamin’ that she’ll have some time to spare away from that lambing affair…
The dogs find this time of year a trifle tedious. Apart, that is, from the delicious morsels that come from multitudinous birthing and milk-sucking baby animal – more detail would be too much information.
Last night I’d come in from lambing a couple of ewes and was washing and cleaning my teeth when I heard a commotion from the cow palace. I went out to find Desiree had calved and was holding the whole herd at bay.
Desiree is another of the herd matriarchs and part of the governing council. She’s a large, independent and generally unruffled cow that has produced some of the best heifers in the herd. Unfortunately she becomes dangerous and unpredictable immediately after she’s calved due to the flush of hormones. I forbid anyone near her. She is marginally more trustworthy with me, but there is no way I’d take even the tiniest risk with her. Normally I manage to get her into a pen before she’s calved, which helps keep her calm and on an even keel, but not last night. What followed was a daunting dance of manipulation, courage and trepidation. She had to be enticed away from her calf with food and shut securely behind a heavy metal gate. Her calf was then fed through the gate opening while three-quarters of a tonne of maternal fury hurled herself towards us bawling hideously. We accomplished it – just, and after a few moments mother and baby were cooing gently at each other. Desiree has another unique habit; she constantly croons and talks to her unborn calf for the later part of her gestation. This is perhaps the reason why she’s never had a difficult birth or weakly calf – as god knows what I’d do if she did!
Today normality is restoring itself. I don’t keep her penned off for long as isolation encourages her protectiveness and unpredictability. Once the other matriarchs have introduced themselves to her calf she begins to relax and settle down. By this evening she was even enjoying some back scratching from me.