Sunday, March 22, 2015

Busy Night

3 AM, 22 March 2015 -  Temp:  23*, wind: strong and cold

Well it has been an exciting night here.  On my usual 3 AM check I found a cow in labor.  I go back to the house and wait for about an hour as I know it will take her a while yet.  I went out later and she had made no progress.  I call Brett (son) to come help me get her into the big, red barn.  In the meantime I try to get her to stand up.  She couldn't stand - at least not for long.  Her back end is weak.  So, Brett brings the equipment down to the pole barn so we can pull the calf there.  I call Christopher (other son, owner of cow) to come out to the farm - and warn him that we might need the pickup and stock trailer.  Brett does an internal check of the cow.  Bad news, the calf is backwards (coming tail first, legs down). Call Mark (hubby) to come and help.  (I have a love/hate relationship with my cell phone currently it is love.)  Good news, just as Christopher shows up, Brett got the cow up and she walked!   The 'boys' got her up to the red barn and I carried the puller, etc. back up there.  All four humans gather in the barn.  The cow is in a small pen with a head gate to hold her in one spot.  Brett puts on fresh OB gloves (shoulder length) and goes in for another check and explains to us what he feels.  Oh no, the cow sits down (like a dog).   Christopher releases her from the head gate and she rolls onto her side.  This is not ideal for assisting with delivery.  After both Brett and Mark try to get the calf turned enough to get the legs back, they give up.  (Note, they are attempting to work inside of the cow while she is have contractions.)  Christopher takes his cow to the veterinarian in Minot (about 45 miles away).   We don't know if the vet will be able to pull the calf out or if she will have to do a c-section.  

It is now 5:30 AM.  Brett takes the 4-wheeler up to check cows again.   It has only been a little over an hour since I was up there to check them.   He comes back home to get me and our calf sled.   There is one new calf and another should be born when we get back up there.

Sure enough.  We now have two fresh calves and cows to get back to the red barn.  We leave the newest calf for last so mom has time to clean and get to know it.  Brett gets the calf into the sled (large version of the sleds kids have).  We bring the pair back to the barn.   Brett puts the calf into the calf warmer.   This is a special space with a heater in it.  We want to warm the calf up so it doesn't get sick or freeze it's ears off.

We go back up to get the other pair and bring them back to the barn.

It is now 6:40 AM.  We are chilled and wide awake.   It is common that we have to sit up for a while after being out at night.  So, now we watch a bit of TV, play on the computer or just curl up in a blanket - and wait for Christopher to get home with a report on his cow and calf.

7:40 AM - Christopher just returned home from the vet.  Sadly, the calf did not survive.

The rest of the day will consist of continuing to check cattle and trying to get a few minutes for a nap!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Calving Season 2015 has begun

Calving season has begun at Rockeman Herefords.  As of this morning we have 10 calves - only 310 or so to go!

As I have stated on here before, I have the night shift.  For the 30 years that Mark & I have been married it has been my shift.  I go out around 3 AM to check the herd.  My three guys check the rest of the time (I do help sometimes).  We are not strict with this schedule - sometimes it is worse.   For example, we had a few nights this week when the overnight temperature was 15 below or colder AND windy.  Those nights we checked every hour or two.  Newborn calves could freeze their ears and lose them - or worse, freeze their hooves and never be able to walk - or even worse, freeze to death.  Another reason we need to check on the herd throughout the day and night is to make sure none of the females are having trouble with their delivery.  There are times when the rancher(s) need to assist with the delivery or have a veterinarian help.  As you can see, calving season is a full time job (24/7) for everyone here.

This morning I happened to also take the 7 AM check.  The sun was just coming up.   The moon just going down.  I just had to grab my camera.

Moon setting
It is a beautiful morning.  There is very little wind and the temp is about 24 above.  As I walk out to the barnyard, I have a fluffy cat join me and a couple of dogs checking out everything.  I heard coyotes howling to the south/southwest (not a good thing).  The first 'girls' I checked were just enjoying the sunshine while laying out on the straw covered hill.   (The straw works like a blanket on the ground to help keep the cattle warm.)

Some of the cattle enjoying the sunshine.
The cattle can also go into a barn.  As I was checking the cattle on the hillside, I could hear a soft moo-ing sound coming from the barn.   I was certain I would find a newborn calf in there - or a female calving.  Sure enough, I looked around the corner into the barn and I found this.

1304 had her baby
 The calf was up and walking around.  Mom was keeping a close watch.  (The 'stuff' at the cow's rear end is the afterbirth process taking place.)  

checking the girls in the pole barn too

There were other moms-to-be in the barn too.  No more babies, so back to the house I can go.

We will move the new pair up to another barn to be with other new moms and calves.   We like to get them in where we can watch them closer and they will be warmer.   We feel it is important to watch them closer when it is their first calf (that is who is calving now at our place).  We need to make sure the calf is being mothered (loved by mom) and gets that colostrum (first milk with the extra antibodies).

Later we will give each calf it's name - an ear tag with it's individual number.  I have written about the various jobs we do after a calf is born including record keeping, weighing and tagging.