So Monday my plans were to have a quiet day at home since our gravel road wasn't safe to travel. Up an ice covered hill and then down before I could even reach the next gravel road. Not worth risking going off in a ditch 300 feet from the house. I've done this on more than one occasion, good thing is…it's an easy walk home. Bad thing is my vehicles stuck and now I must wait for spring thaw. In this case, always good to have at least two vehicles and enough sense not to even try to venture out again till the gravel is drivable. Of course within 2-3 days, unless continuous bad weather has been happening, the roads a mere two miles away are clear and drivable, but those two miles to get there...well that's what keeps me at home. So Monday with plans of a quiet office day, working on my very long "To Do" list, my mom threw a wrench in my plans before I even headed out for my morning chores. She said a calf was standing by itself outside the window with no one around, looking very chilled. As I readied to go outside she gave me updates, the calf was still by itself with no momma in sight. By the time I bundled and headed out, the report was the calf had wandered off and hopefully with his mom. So I set about my outside morning chores at 8:40, made much more challenging due to -2 temps. While opening houses to let the chickens go out if they dared, I saw a small black figure under the lean too out in the field with no cows around. So, I set everything down and headed out to investigate. There was Pretty Boy McFloyd barely curled up, stiff and showing little signs of life. Me, with a knee that's been locking up and a slipped disc in my back, I wondered if I could even lift him…but I knew if I couldn't, he would die.
I have no idea how I hoisted him up and over my shoulder, but I did. I guess it was pure determination to keep this calf alive. The trek up the hill was a lot like Thomas the Train....I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. The thought of settling him down so I could rest and catch my breath, crossed my mind several times, however those thoughts were squashed because I lacked confidence that I would be able to hoist Pretty Boy up again, to get him to the house. In true farm fashion the latch on the closest gate was froze, which forced me to head to the farthest gate. I was so thankful once I made it out of the field and into the yard. I headed into the house carrying Pretty Boy while hollering for my mom to grab a blanket. Initially I was going to put him in a dog crate to warm up, but once in the house I realized that wasn't going to happen….too big and his body was too stiff. I decided to place him in my bathroom. I threw everything in my tub and my mom spread out a blanket. Hours later I would come to realize placing the toilet paper holder in the tub was not a good idea, as I have short arms. Lesson learned...when housing livestock in bathroom, you still need to keep toilet paper within reach of the toilet.
Outside again Macy was not looking for Pretty Boy. This gave me concern, but it also gave me time to work on some of my chores. As long as she was content I could try and get chickens fed and watered while I figured out what to do with Pretty Boy McFloyd. Once I headed to the barn to pitch hay for the cows and other livestock, I had decided I would move Macy down to the house. This way I could put her in the puppy pen I had made for Lucy’s pups. It should make it easy for me to care for Macy and keep an eye on Pretty Boy. He would have the Hensiek Hotel (one of my chicken houses) as shelter. While pitching hay I notice one of my other cows, Keely acting funny. She charged Lucy a time or two then laid down. Instead of munching on the fresh hay, she was restless and agitated. As I continued working…busting ice, dragging and draining my water hose....I thought….that dang cow is gonna calve today!
As I continued to work as fast as I could, I was trying to figure out where I might pen Keely so she could be out of the weather to calve, and I could easily care for her. Hauling water and food in this weather is not an easy task. While still pitching hay, Keely took off out of the barn lot and across the field. I knew then it was going to be a long day. At this point Macy starts bawling for her calf, Pretty Boy McFloyd. She walks out of the barn lot and heads down behind the house. I’m hoping I can catch her at the lower gate and let her loose so I can direct her into the yard. As I head back down to try and head her off, I see that Kate and her new calf, McKayden are also heading down the fence line. I decide I will set them free too, and work corral them into the yard with Macy. I run grab a scoop of grain to try and entice the gals through the gate. Of course Darby Brook and San Antonio Rose decided they would come down to see what was going on. The open gate looked wonderful to them. Rose dashed right out. Macy and Kate held back because of the icy patch at the gate. I had to do my special dance to try and get them to head through the gate. As Kate went through the gate, McKayden decided to turn and head back up the fence row towards the barn. I took off at a full sprint to cut the calf off like a well-trained cattle dog. I must have been pretty good as the calf stopped and turned back towards the gate. He tried to cut through the fence so I was able to grab him and carry him through the gate, across my yard and into my mom’s yard. Kate stayed right with me as I entered the puppy pen. I went back to try and get Macy in my mom’s yard but she and Rose had headed up the road back towards the barn. Macy hollered a time or two for her calf, then went to grazing on the grass across the road.
As I headed towards Keely, just before noon….I could see the steam rising, lots of steam. When she shifted around to look at me I could see the newborn baby standing there like what the heck....out of the oven into the freezer! All the sac wasn't even off of him, Keely still had after birth hanging from her and she was in no mood for me to be coming after her calf. When you have a large animal with horns swing her head at you, well you tend to work with a purpose and you don't dilly dolly around. With the frigid cold I didn’t want to keep the calf out in the open air any longer than needed. I rubbed the baby down quickly with a towel, cleaned his nose and mouth of fluid and membrane, then tried to wrap him up in the other towels as I hoisted him onto my shoulder. Understandably Keely was not happy. It took some coaxing to get her to follow me, she kept wanting to go back to the spot where she had calved. When she would realize that I had the baby, she would run up on me and bump me. A couple times I had to stop and set the calf down. It didn’t have its legs yet so it wouldn’t stand, which made me feel bad….I did not want this calf laying on the frozen ground….so, I hoisted him up and took off across the field again. It’s quite an experience to carry a non-willing calf across a field of snow and ice with a worried mom with large horns glued to your hip. A couple times I felt Keely’s horn press against my back or arm, and I just kept hoping that if she knocked me over, that I wouldn’t fall on the calf and hurt it.
Inside my mom had already cleaned up my bathroom and fixed lunch for me. By the time I finished eating, we had to laugh because I would need to go back outside in an hour to shut chicken houses, check cow waters, and check on all the momma’s and babies. Back outside I had to catch Justin Gobble, my big tom turkey. He sleeps in the Big House and can’t fit through the doggie door. With the big door closed because of Keely in the house, I caught Justin and set him inside the chicken house. Keely did not like this big creature in “HER” house, so while avoiding Keely’s horns, I rescued Justin and carried him to the Bungalow to sleep for the night. Luckily, no one else was misplaced due to momma cows and calves taking over the chicken houses. Three calves in sixteen days, with the coldest temps of the year, is making for a very interesting winter to say the least.