Friday, February 5, 2010

It never fails!

I read in the paper not long ago that area hospitals were experiencing a mini baby boom. It had something to do with a snowstorm that dumped 2 feet of snow here last March. (You do the math!) Our own version of the maternity ward here on the County Line has been just as productive in recent weeks. The heifers were supplying a steady stream of cute little babies, and the cows were also beginning to drop calves.

And then, Randy left to go to a Kansas Association of Wheat Growers meeting and the Commodity Classic in Topeka. And the very day he left, we had a heifer in trouble. Randy had told our hired man, Jake, and me to call the vet if there was a problem. That was a great suggestion ... as long as the vet answers the phone. No luck. Jake was on his way back from Ellinwood where he'd taken a steer for processing.

So I went into my nurse/midwife role. I found the disinfectant and the rubber gloves. I found the Tupperware container that was part of our inheritance. Really. This Tupperware container has been used to hold the pulling chains and disinfectant since I've been part of the family (almost 29 years), and I don't know how long it was used prior to that. It used to be in my in-laws' mudroom. I'm sure when Marie bought that Tupperware long ago, it was never intended for use in a barn. In fact, according to the label, it was part of the Millionaire Line (man, if only THAT had come true!) After a quick perusal at the Tupperware website, I have concluded they don't make it anymore. (Maybe I could suggest a whole new marketing campaign for cow/calf producer products. But, I digress. Have you noticed how good I am at digressing ... ??)

I got all the supplies in hand and went to the barn. Before he left, Jake had moved the heifer into a hay-lined stall in the barn. The nervous mother-to-be was pacing. Kind of like I was pacing as I waited for help to arrive. Jake had called around and found a neighbor who was willing to come help tie up the heifer so we could pull the calf. (Thanks, Vic!)

The heifer was not too thrilled with this part of the process. We could just about have our own bovine entrant in this month's Winter Olympics. This heifer has the moves down for ski jumping. She managed to break the top part of the stall in her attempts to leave (How many of we human mothers were ready to forget the whole thing while in the throes of labor?)

But they finally got the heifer tied up. And then Jake discovered the calf was breech ... more great news. I did finally reach the vet, and we again went into the waiting mode. (You know how it is when you're in the labor room. The nurses are there while you do all the work. Then the ob/gyn shows up at the last minute.)

However, in our case, the ob/gyn (vet) didn't show up in time. Jake and Vic ended up pulling the calf themselves. There is something magical about watching a new life come into the world. There were some tense moments for this labor room staff as we waited to see if the baby would breath.

The mom was still riled up, and loosened from the rope, she actually did high-jump the already broken stall. Jake moved the baby where the mom could get to it and we left the barn, hoping the two would bond.

I would have loved to take photos during the whole process, but I didn't think the heifer was ready for camera flashes going off. This heifer was no Hollywood starlet showing off as she went to an awards show. (And, come to think of it, I wasn't one of those moms who wanted a video camera or any other recording device during labor and delivery!)

Good news! The baby lived. Another good day on the County Line! And, this baby WAS ready for her close-up!


  1. I remember that container!! (OK I did have to see the picture first.) I never thought about it being tupperware. I seem to remember the same type container used for punch, tea, or something. Of course it would have been either before it was retired to the mud room or a different container that looked just like it. Glad the baby is OK!

  2. I asked Randy if you'd remember it! I think maybe it was designed for beverages because once upon a time it had a smaller opening to use for pouring. However, that is long gone. It does, however, still seal at the top, which is good for keeping the water and disinfectant in the bucket till you get to the barn! They had to pull another one this AM (Saturday). But Randy got in on that one!

  3. wow i can honestly say i've never had that eventful of a day!!! but the baby is so cute!

  4. Yes, the babies are sure cute! They are some of my favorite things on the farm.