Since we have been living in Cornwall I have got into the habit of visiting my friends Malcolm and Carla on their farm on most Saturdays. I tend to go at lunchtimes, and we usually have Pasties for lunch. So yesterday, it being Saturday, I went and did a bit of shopping and then got some pasties and headed off to the farm. The journey there was OK, the roads were a bit snowy, but no real problem. So it was all a bit unremarkable; it was a normal Saturday.
However when I got to the farm Malcolm told me he was expecting the Vet (animal doctor) any minute, because one of his cows was pregnant and was a week overdue. So the vet was coming to check her over and see what was going on. While Malcolm was waiting for the vet Carla and I went in to the house to eat our pasties. Just as we had finished and were part way through our cups of tea Malcolm called out that the vet had arrived. So I put my wellies on, which I keep in the boot of the car, had a quick cigarette, and then followed my friends and the vet up to the barn where the pregnant cow was being kept. Carla and Malcolm both said that I did not have to stay if I did not want to; I think they thought I might be a bit squeamish, as I had never been at the birth of anything. But I said I would like to stay, and help if there was anything I could do.
The problem was that the Mum in waiting had been pregnant last year when she was still quite young. Her first calf was large, and she was unable to give birth naturally, so she had to have a Caesarean. They were hoping that would not be the case this time.
Here’s a picture of Mum-to-be while she was waiting for the vet to check her out:
It wasn’t long before the vet was up to his elbows in cow, while we tried to keep her calm (not easy).
John, the vet, told us that the calf was ready to be born, but mum was too small internally so she would not be able to give birth naturally, so the decision was taken to give her another Caesarean.
The vet was fantastic and gave her a shot to keep her calm, and lots of local anaesthetics, to reduce the pain she would feel.
By now another vet had arrived and it was down to Malcolm, Carla, and me to keep mum calm and stop her moving, unfortunately we failed at first, she must have felt very uncomfortable as the vet cut her and tried to move her stomach out of the way while he tried to get the calf out. She decided to move forward and lay down, and there was nothing we could do to stop her. Malcolm ended up underneath the cow, but was unhurt. Eventually she stood up and settled again and we all got back into position. The fact that she laid down in the hay and stuff on the floor could be dangerous as she could pick up an infection and get peritonitis and that is not good, if she does get it, it may be impossible to save her.
Anyway, we were all back in position, I was at the head end, and the vets managed to get the calf out OK.
Here’s a picture that I managed to take a few moments after he was born:
He looks steamy because he came from a very warm place into a freezing cold barn.
After that we had to try and keep mum calm while the vets put back the bits that had to go inside and then stitch her up. That took about an hour and all the time Malcolm, Carla and Me were trying to keep her still and calm.
My job was to stand in front of her and block the light so that she would not attempt to move forward. It was an amazing time for me as I stood with a full grown cow pushing her head into my side, while I was doing my ‘Cow Whisperer’ impersonation and spoke softly to her, and stroked her head and shoulders. It was an amazing experience.
The vets did an incredible job (Carla took the following pictures today):
Here's Mum and baby:
This picture shows the baby feeding from his mum, which we were afraid would not happen, so that is a good sign.
Here are a couple of pictures of the new calf:
Isn't he gorgeous!
The next few weeks are crucial for the mum, the vet saw her again today and gave her some more anti-biotics.
Anyway, for me it was another new experience, one I will never forget, and a most remarkable day. Thank you Malcolm, Carla, Mum and Baby for letting me be there.