We got an unexpected call from my father in law the other morning. A cow was getting ready to give birth and we could watch if we hurried. So in a dash the boys and I grabbed our boots and jackets and away we went! We found her near the creek, straining and to this mama's eyes- obviously in the throws of labor. She'd lay down, strain, get up, walk a bit, lay down, strain, get up, eat a bit, lay down... Poor thing. So we watched... and waited.
... and waited. The boys got restless and the warm morning sun made it a perfect day to run outside and explore. So while we waited for the baby, they played.
After a while, boys playing by a creek led to the obvious, boys playing IN the creek. It is still a little too cold for that, and this mama is trying not to yell (see last post about The Orange Rhino Challenge)- so it was time to head back to the house. My father in law- best known as Pop Pop around my house, had some work to do, so he said he'd come back in a while and check on her again.
A while later, Pop returned, but this time was a bit more concerned. Her progressed had stalled, usually indicating a problem. So he ran her down to the barn and got her set up in a shoot to confine her, most mothers in labor would not be incredibly fond of this... she was not either. My father in law quickly went to work, as pulling a calf is nothing new to him. It was quite a thing to watch the farmer in his element, but even his skill has a limit- the calf was not only breech, but tail first. Feet first is one thing... that's just backwards and a cow can still give birth that way- although she made need some assistance-- nothing was going anywhere tail first... My father in law quickly made a call and help was on the way.
The great thing about small towns is that you're usually only one phone call away from someone who knows someone or something about what you need...and you're likely related! After quite an effort, the legs were tethered and they worked as a team to pull the baby free- only to discover it had already died, but something still wasn't right. As I looked at the poor sweet lifeless calf, I heard- she's got twins- and my heart leapt with hope! Surely, this one will live. But it was not meant to be. Although, for the mother's sake, this baby was not breech as was easily pulled to freedom.
My oldest, sat with me through the whole thing. He asked questions, I answered the best I could. We had lots of talks of the biological things he was witnessing, and he learned without being too sqeamish... although there was plenty of yuck to be seen. It was good to spend this time with my boy, the farm lends many lessons on life, not all of them are fun and pretty. We do get plenty of lovely ones, harvesting the garden, watching baby chicks hatch, bottle feeding calves in the barn. But, the farm leads also has a lot of reality to it. Not all calves are born alive. Not all vegetables yield a harvest. Not all chickens thrive to their potential. Life happens.
I am thankful for these experiences in my children's lives. They won't be exposed to everything the farm has to offer immediately- I was thankful my 9 year old was asking the tough questions today and not my 4 year old. But, they won't see all the good stuff right away either. I won't try to shield them from learning moments either.
And overall, despite the loss of the calves, my boys agreed... it was a pretty great day. They enjoyed a day running in the fields, playing in the creek, riding in the tractor with their grandfather. It was a pretty great day.