Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Eventful day in the land of reproduction...

So yesterday was an annoying day for our bulls.  It was "Sperm Count" day.  Here they've been all winter, minding their own business and just eating, eating, eating. Then today? They were met with electric shocks.
I guess we have to make sure that they are still fertile before we send them out with the females this summer. It's important to have a lot of calves born in the spring.  I forgot to ask if they all passed the test.  And no, I didn't provide a picture for you.

But speaking of fertility, our cat also proved to us that she remains extremely fertile. She had a littler of kittens yesterday. She had SIX. No wonder she was so fat.  Sadly, one of them died, so we have 5 now. I was a little perturbed that my husband didn't tell me until after she was done. Stinker. He knows I like to be there for births!

But the funny thing is that HE had to be there, per Moley's insistence. Apparently, she climbed into the dogs bed, and when Ladd saw blood, he grabbed a box and and old sheet. She jumped right in.  Then he left her to do her thing and she came out to the garage and started crying at him. He followed her back to the box to where she jumped back in and started birthing again.  He stayed and watched for a while. As soon as he left, there she was, back out of the box crying at him. As soon as he returned, she jumped back in and pushed out another one. What an interesting cat.  Hahaha. She wanted someone to be there with her. Of course, my mother-in-law thought this was a great story. I can see why Moley is such a great cat. People will think I'm crazy, but she really does talk to you. You ask her a question and she meows and purrs right back.  She's always talking in conversation form. It's pretty amusing. I'd love to take her to an animal psychic just to see what she's saying. hahaha.

Anyway, there's an update for you. Our animals are fertile. Well, except for Baxter. He's fixed. Which is a good thing.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Orphan has a Mama!

Also, I just wanted to share the good news, that the orphan calf has been adopted.  Yesterday, a mama lost her baby. So that meant that we could graft this calf.  Some of you may have read my POST on it last year. In case you didn't, grafting is when they skin the hide of the dead calf, and tie it onto the orphan calf. This way, it smells like the mama's calf. When the cow smells this calf, she accepts it as her own.  So she lets it nurse. Then, once it's nursed for a while, it develops the right scent and we (we, figuratively speaking), can take the hide off. Pretty interesting, eh?
So I'm very happy this baby has a Mom now.  The tricky part is getting him to figure out how to eat. He's had a bottle shoved in his mouth so he's a bit confused. But it should work out and he should learn how to nurse.

The Orphan Calf and a Laboring Mama

So a couple of days ago, my kids were dying to go with their daddy to do chores.  That meant that if they wanted to go, that I also needed to go with so that I could supervise.  I'm glad I did.

We drove up the muddy road to the feed lot, when the husband spotted a cow that looked like she was ready to calve.

He was going to feed the orphaned baby calf, but when he saw this mama in "labor" he asked if I would feed the baby. I was so excited!

Cute little calf.

It got so excited to see us.  My husband has been the "mom" for a few days. He wasn't even scared of us.
Aw, even though he won't admit it, I think this cowboy was being so sweet to this baby.

So while the husband went up to get the birthing cow, I got to feed the baby orphan.

Pretty soon, the laboring mama cow saw us, and what do you know. She didn't want to birth in front of us, so she sucked that baby cow right back in. I'm not even kidding.

The husband going up to get her. See all the pregnant mamas? 

He brought her down and put her in her own delivery room. This is the face of a birthing woman...

Meanwhile, the dog started eating a placenta. Or at least I thought that's what it was.
Later my husband told me that was part of the prolapsed uterus from the other day. Sick.

And the kids would rather play in the mud. I mean, of course!

I tried to hide behind a fence, hoping that I could see this cow birth her calf, since she was so close. But no such luck. Apparently she still knew I was there and wanted her privacy. If only I could have made her understand that I'm a doula and I could rub her shoulders or something. I'm sure she would have been fine with that. Someday I want to see a birth. I guess they just happen too fast, when they do happen, and if they haven't happened, they won't if the cow knows you're sticking around. Pretty interesting.

Friday, March 11, 2011

All in 24 hours...

Just a few interesting things that happened all in one day.  Just another day in the life, right?

Well, the adventures started when my husband had to go and pull a calf.  That means that mama cow is having a hard time getting her baby out, so the ranchers have to step in and assist. We don't usually have to do this too much, but every once in a while, it's needed. 
So they finally got the calf pulled, but the mama also pushed out her uterus too....a uterine prolapse. Not a good thing.  So my husband and some others started trying to help her and get everything back in it's place. Unfortunately, the mama died. 
So sad.  So here is a little newborn calf without a mama.  It actually made me extremely sad at the thought. Poor baby without anyone to feed it and keep it warm.  My husband made it a bed of hay and has been bottle feeding him baby cow formula.  But I just feel so lonely for it. Stupid cows. I don't know why another mama can't adopt it!  I mean, one cow lost a twin, she should be able to care for and feed this one too. But they are dumb. So the calf is all alone and the only one who pays attention to it, is my husband. Isn't that awful.  Made this pregnant mama want to go out and save the world. Cause then I started thinking about all of our human orphan babies that need moms and I want to take care of them all! Sad day in the life of calving.  He'll just keep feeding it because it's likely that another mama will have a calf that won't make it. Then they'll graft this calf for that mama cow. 

Next story.  So it's March.  That means that it's rainy and wet. All this wet in the country causes some major mud problems. A few days ago, my husband was hoping that it would freeze just so the mud would be solid enough that he could get his truck up to an area to be able to feed the cows. Otherwise, he wouldn't be able to make it. Fortunately for him, it did.
Well, I had my first experience with the mud.  I drove over to a friend's house in a my little car, and lucky for me, got extremely stuck in her driveway! I called my husband, and he was in the next town. Just then, her husband got home.  He got some ropes and chains and got them all hooked up from my car to his. Not so bad. Until I found out that I had to drive in reverse out of there. I'm sorry, but I'm just not so great at driving in reverse! So then I got all nervous.  We started up and I gave it some gas. Things were going well for 2 seconds until all of us sudden, I sunk down and the rope broke!  I got out and realized that since I was so worried about looking behind me, I didn't realize that I steered my front tires over a big chunk of curbing they had lining their drive way.  My tire sunk right into their newly planted grass. I got out so embarrassed and thought maybe we should wait for my husband to get there and the two of them could do it together.  Nah, he thought I could get back over it. second try. He fixed the chain, I got in, held the steering wheel tight, gave it some gas and vroom! Over the curbing I went. I must have hit a dry patch of dirt cause I sped backwards and slammed on the brakes just before I hit his truck. Embarrassed again!
He got out and said, "You want me to back it out the rest of the way for ya?"
Yes please!
When I finally drove away, I may or may not have cried out of sheer embarrassment. lol. I'm pregnant, remember?

And finally...the last story.
That evening, a huge storm came in. It dropped a ton of hail and gave us a big lightning show....then a power outage. And it stayed out for a few hours. Not a big deal right. Yeah, it's not really that big of a deal.  But have you ever been in a power outage in the city as compared to the country? The city has lots of emergency lights. So there are small glows here and there. The country? Pitch black. What's an emergency light? hahaha. But, we did have our propane lamp that was awesome. And fortunately the kids hadn't completely depleted the batteries in our flashlights so we were good.
The only other amusing thing about a power outage in the country is that means that we also don't have any water. Yep, it's true. We have our own well, and our own pump that runs on electricity. So when that's gone= no running water!  It's interesting how many times I wanted to wash my hands, but couldn't (thank goodness for baby wipes and sanitizer), and how hard it is to break the habit of going to the bathroom, and not flushing. Pretty hilarious.  I was just glad that I wasn't at my sister in law's house.  She was commenting about how they have to come up with a bathroom plan since there's 9 of them. How to go, where to go, how much to go, hahaha.  It's a good emergency preparedness experience, right?

So what do you think? It was quite a day, back at the ranch. At least that's the most excitement we've had for a while.....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Quonset NICU

It's full-blown calving season. And of course, the cows made a huge debut during the big snowstorm last week.  I just have to say that I was slightly ammused.  Apparently, the local maternity ward was bursting at the seams. Women were laboring in the halls of hospital because they didn't have rooms.  As for us? We had five calves that night.  There's always something about a huge storm right? And it's convenience?
So the husband was out in this big storm too. Poor guy. He was making sure that the calves were drying off and getting enough straw to keep warm with their mama's.  The sad thing is that we did lose one calf.  It was a twin.  It seems the mama was too busy with the other one, and this one rolled off the straw and into the snow. So sad.
This also means that our Quonset has turned into a NICU. A few nights later, there was a calf that could not stand up or keep warm.
My husband had gone to check on the cows, and I had gone to sleep. A while later, I woke up to the lights still on. I figured it was about 11 or so.  I looked at the clock and it was 3 AM. I went out to the kitchen to find my husband. I asked what he was doing up and he told me about this baby calf that couldn't stand or get warm. The calf came to the Quonset NICU and he had been warming him and feeding him all night.
You want to know my first thought? I didn't feel too bad for him. I thought (like I have in the past), "This is kinda cool to see HIM be the one to stay up all night and take care of a newborn!"  Aren't I so nice.  And the cool thing about him, is that in between he had cleaned the kitchen and folded all the laundry. I do NOT do that when I'm up late taking care of babies. So that was kinda nice. Okay, so maybe I did feel bad for him that he was tired the next day. But what can you do when there's a baby to take care of, right?
A couple of days later, the calf was still sick. My husband came home and his jacket had stuff all over it. I asked him what in the world it was, and he said he had been milking the mama cow! So there you go. I guess we do milk cows! I had no idea that they did that when needed.  I didn't know the cows let them.  He said that she did try to kick him, but he had to get some of her milk for her sick calf. I guess it worked!
I kept meaning to go down there and get a picture of the NICU for you, but I just haven't mustered up the courage to walk in the cold and the snow. Too much effort for this sick and pregnant lady. :) Yep, we are expecting in September.  And then I will be the one up all night with a newborn. :)