So now you know all about delivering newborn calves. It’s a piece of cake, really. Just carry those handles and chains with you everywhere you go. After our last fiasco, I told Earl that I’m going to buy about four extra sets and have them on the four wheeler, gator, truck and maybe hanging from the tree in the back pasture. Everywhere we go……we’re going to see chains, chains, chains. 002.jpg      The cows have no sense of humor. They were not impressed that we got caught unprepared. But they were happy we saved the calf and were able to improvise with a “log chain”. News travels fast within the herd. They knew all about the drama before we even got back up to the house. It’s a gossip frenzy around here. 005.jpg     This is what those silly chains look like. It’s not much to look at, but that is life or death for a cow trying to calve. I can hear the “clinking” of the chains right now. As he grabs and runs out the door. Everywhere he goes…..except for that one time. Hahaha041.jpg      So after they deliver, we normally try to let the Mother keep the calf for the first day. She cleans it up and gives it all the lovin’ it needs. Hopefully they’ll have their first feeding of colostrum. Colostrum is a very important part of a newborns life. If they don’t get enough of it……..they have a tough time surviving.038.jpg      Besides getting the very important colostrum, they also get a vaccination. It’s specifically for upper respiratory diseases. You shoot it up each nostril. This has taken our death rate down to almost zero. They get this within the first hours after being born. Whew! These calves are like raising a family all over again. 014     Next we pick them up and put them in their own cozy, little condo. This is so nice. Their own space. Nobody to bully them. Just a lot of “me” time. 012.jpg     The Mama is put in with the rest of the milking herd and we milk her into a “can” and feed her calf the rest of her colostrum for the next several days. Sometimes we’ll have four “can” cows come in at a time. That’s when the stress level starts rising. Keeping all that milk straight is a complicated mess. No wonder I’m always glad when calving season is finally over. Then we’re on easy street. More or less. We have about a month to go on calving season. 011.jpg     Yep, yours truly. I’m not making any of this up. I’m not full of hot air. I do help milk. It’s no fashion show…..every day is a bad hair day…..I have cow poop in my hair……nasty tails across my mouth and eyes…..and the same clothes until they’re totally shot. The towel in the back pocket is very important. You never know when you’ll need one for emergency. The gloves save my hands from looking totally redneck. Life is good! I think?! 020.jpg     The buzzards are going crazy in the back pasture. That’s where all the afterbirth is at. They were flying all over the place this morning……I should’ve counted them. I was just concerned that they don’t do the nose dive on me. I wanted to yell at them……I’m not dead yet, leave me alone!!!!018.jpg     We keep the calves in the hutches until they get big like this. Then we put them in group pens and start feeding them out of a trough. They need to learn how to get along with other calves and start the weaning process. Chores get much easier when the calves get weaned and don’t need so much attention. Bovines are so needy!015.jpg      Talkin’ about needy! I have a crazy bunch around here. Yep……this is what dairy life is all about. Some good….some not so good! These dudes are good……………………Carol

P.S. Remember the song by Patty Loveless?  Chains, chains, shackles and chains…….That is now our theme song. We heard it the same day of our “chain” fiasco. Hahaha