Momma Cow… Where Is Your Calf?

.

keep-calm-calving-s-on

.

Well, Farmgirls.  Here I am on our farm in Tennessee where the obsessing over the Momma Cows that haven’t had their calves yet, has begun.  (And I’m the one that obsesses; not my husband!)

.

IMG_1615

Momma #88 and her calf born January 2014.

.

When I was planning this blog post, it was going to be all about the birth of our first calf of the year.  Because Momma #88 was due about two weeks ago.  But guess what?  She’s still walking around the farm like the poor, miserable pregnant Momma that she is.  (This sort of reminds me of our very own Rural Farmgirl, Alex’s, blog post a few weeks ago where she was walking around waiting for her own baby to be born! Alex, I am NOT comparing you to our cows.  Just that I sympathize with you! Smile!)

.

IMG_7499-002

Momma #88 and her calf born January 2015.  

.

For the past two years, Momma #88 has had her calf on almost the exact same day.  This year?  Nope, that day has come and gone. 

.

IMG_2917-002

The thoughts going through Momma #88’s mind today: “If I don’t look at her, she’s not looking at me right?”  

.

So, to keep me from following Momma #88 around with my camera and bugging her to pieces… I decided to tell you all about the signs that I look for to (maybe) tell me that the Momma Cow is going to have that baby any day!

.

Sign #1) Very large udder.  They begin to “bag up” and get full, tight and sometimes even the teats will stick out at an angle.  However, some of the older Momma’s will bag up waaaay before they are due, so you can’t always judge imminent delivery from this!  And a Heifer (a first time Momma) won’t necessarily bag up at all.

..

Sign #2)  Springing.  This sign is what my own Momma refers to as “springing”.  My Mom will say to me on the phone, “Do you have any cows springing yet”?  Ha Ha!  The best way I can describe this is that their backside gets loose and “springy”… sometimes the vulva will even bounce a bit when they walk.  But this can begin a few weeks before delivery, so that doesn’t help with the obsessing either!  It feels a little strange to stalk a Momma Cow from behind watching to see if her Vulva is bouncing!

..

Sign #3) Mucous Discharge.  Sometimes I will see mucous discharge and think… this is it! It’s going to be today! But this can actually mean the cow has lost her cervical plug and still has a week or more to go! It might sometimes look like the water bag, but it’s not!  (Oh the obsessing and stressing.)

..

Sign #4) Relaxation of the pelvic ligaments.  I like to say that the calf has “dropped” in this stage.  But the pelvic ligaments are relaxing and all of a sudden you will notice that the pelvic bone is really prominent – like the cow has suddenly gotten very bony along the head of her tail.  It’s getting closer!  The obsessing and stalking begins in earnest now!

.

Sign #5) Strange behavior.  One of  the most obvious signs in our cows is their behavior.  They tend to separate themselves from the herd.  We actually have a couple Momma Cows that come to the hilltop near the house and will pace the hilltop… almost begging for us to notice they are in labor!  This behavior can go on for several hours.  Sometimes they will lay down, get up, pace and then start the pattern again.   (Obsessing?  Oh yeah.)

.

IMG_8863-002

The broken water bag and the tiny hooves. 

.

Sign #6) Ruptured water bag.  And finally… the most stressful step for me.  When you see the water bag hanging out and then two little hooves.  And the Momma is pacing back and forth with those little hooves hanging out.  I say to my husband, “She needs help.  She needs help.  She needs help.”  Over. And over.  And over.  Until he wants to lock me in the house!  This is where you must stay calm (with your camera in the ready) and let nature do its perfect work.  Those Momma Cows are amazing.

.

IMG_8876-001

 

And then… you are rewarded with this!   Can there be anything more precious?  And if you are me, you stand there with tears streaming down your face because it is the most perfectly sweet thing to witness.  And you say, “Wow.  She sure did that fast.  Why was I worried?”  And your husband says, “I told you so”!

..

So, right now it is Thursday night and I’m listening to the rain pouring down on the metal roof of our house and knowing that a “winter mix” is in the forecast for the early morning hours and I’m thinking… “Number 88 will have her calf tonight.  Because they always, always wait for the winter storm”!   This blog post will be live tomorrow morning, but you can be sure I’ll head out at day-break with my camera and if our first calf of 2016 is born?  You’ll be the first to know!!

.

Good night, Farmgirl Friends.  Thank you for letting me talk through my Calving Obsessions!

.

Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

.

Dori

Saturday Morning Update:  Here is our baby born yesterday in a blowing snow storm!  The picture is a cell phone picture so not the greatest!  Momma #88 and Baby #88.1 (great name Cindi!) are doing fabulous!  And let me set your mind at ease about the cold… we have an amazing tree break where the cows go in the storm.  It is very protected from the wind.  And a Momma’s warm milk does miracles to keep a new baby warm!  

photo 1-010

.

 

Leave a comment 34 Comments

  1. Kris says:

    Dori, this blog is fascinating! But I must say I now know more about calving than I previously thought I wanted to know. After all, I am – or was a city girl. Thank you for my education!!!

    Loving country life!
    Kris

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Good morning Kris!

      Thanks for writing – glad the information was fun!

      Momma #88 had her baby and all is well! (I’ve added a picture at the bottom of my post.)

      – Dori –

  2. Emily says:

    Oh Dori, I know what you mean! We walked the pasture looking for all the signs with our mama cow. She was very calm during all of this. She had her baby very early in the morning on September 4th, 2015. Mama is a black Angus and Daddy is a Registered Charolais. We now have a cute little smoky colored baby bull!

    Here’s hoping number 88 delivers soon!

    Take care.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Emily,

      I knew you could relate! :-) We had a calf last year from our Angus Bull and Charolais Cow and it was a smoky sort of color too. They are so pretty aren’t they?

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well!

      – Dori –

  3. Judy Oyler says:

    Here I am in Anchorage, AK wishing I cd see the new baby…really enjoyed the blog, Dori!! I’ll bet Jillian and Rosetta love it!! Thanks for sharing with us city girls who have country hearts!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Judy!

      I remember doing that the winter we were in Alaksa!

      Yes… Jillian and Rosetta love all things on the farm!

      – Dori –

  4. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I don’t blame you one bit for obsessing over very pregnant cows!! We Moms have gotta stick together. Especially in view of the big snow storm stretching across the eastern US!!
    I hope #88 doesn’t calve until this storm passes through and you can make sure and find the little one if necessary.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Winnie!

      We Mommas do have to stick together! Once when we had a Momma cow in distress in her delivery I felt like she was looking at ME for help, not my husband! Kind of like that plea from one Momma to another! :-)

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  5. Nanette Boots says:

    Dori, I remember calving season while growing up. First of all, as a girl, I could not go in the barn if a cow was calving – really?! It was sex ed on the farm, but my Dad sheltered me from it! But oh, I got to clean up all the shi#??. Poopy rugs to shake, coveralls that smell like they’ve been walked and pooped on by the cows themselves, etc. Would I change those experiences? Not for a million bucks. Seeing the calves’ cute faces and antics on a sunny day were so much fun. Enjoy!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Nanette,

      Isn’t that funny about not being able to go in the barn during calving? I’ve heard that from so many people. We are sort of the opposite on our farm…. it is a great way and place to teach our grand-girls about things! Maybe it is just different now than when we were growing up.

      I loved hearing about your “part” in the birthing… just cleaning up the mess! Ha! But, yes… those experiences are priceless.

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  6. Bonnie ellis says:

    Dori, I feel the excitement with you. Calves are so precious and like Winnie says, what mama of any kind doesn’t obsess over birth. Congrats! Hope all goes well.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Bonnie,

      Yes… we Momma’s just have that worrying instinct built right in us, don’t we? Regardless of who is giving birth.

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  7. Shawna Richtsmeier says:

    Aww, this city girl has only seen lambs, pigs and a lot of puppies born. So, i too, would be pretty anxious to witness a calf. On a side note, i delivered each baby with a storm.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Shawna!

      Maybe you can bring your girls to spend some time on our farm when you get moved and settled. We’ll have a lot of baby calves bouncing around the farm by then!

      Hugs,

      – Dori –

  8. Jennifer says:

    Is the new calf here yet? I’ve never seen anything being born, except for my own children. Praying she delivers safely and y’all stay safe in the storm.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Jennifer!

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  9. Meredith Williams says:

    Hi Dori! We were waiting for our “CC” (Christmas Carol) to calf earlier this week and I was so worried she would wait for this blizzard! She was born on Christmas Day herself several years ago, and has had her calf every January since since she turned two! What a good cow! Anyway, she was wise and calved on Thursday morning, and has kept her baby bull in the run in shed since the snow started! Smart girl since we are expecting over two feet of snow! So I totally understand your stress! So glad your 88 did her job well too and has a lovely baby to show for it! Stay safe in this awful weather! ❤️

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Meredith,

      So glad your new little calf was born before the storm and all is well! We don’t get that much snow here so we don’t put our cows up. They’ve got really good shelter in the woods and really seem to prefer going there.

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  10. Denise says:

    Oh I hope all goes well with Momma #88 and her soon to be baby calf!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Denise,

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  11. Krista says:

    Dori, thank you for sharing. I have never seen any animals being born. This was very interesting to learn. My husband helps out on his uncle’s farm so I quizzed him on your signs! I asked if he knew how to tell when a mamma cow was going to have her baby and he listed them all! Looks like I need to take a field trip out to the farm and see some mamma cows!
    I hope baby gets here soon and safe!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Krista!

      I always get nervous when I know that there are people that read my blog and know WAY WAY WAY more than I will ever know about cows!!! So, whew. I’m so glad I got it right! :-) And yes… you definitely need to take a trip to the farm and see the Momma cows. If there are any close to delivery you’ll have to see if you see any of the signs!

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture and an update of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  12. Robin Reichardt says:

    Sixteen years ago, my “internship” began with my Dad’s cow/calf herd. Once had to lay down on a frozen pond and grab the leg of a calf and sling it back to Dad on the edge. Then had to wrap up the calf (in my good coat) and warm it up for a while in the cab of the truck. I love the farm life, took over care of the cows and babies in 2008 after Dad passed away.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Robin,

      Oh wow! That is a good calf story. We’ve had a few similar stories. And we’ll do just about anything to save those little things.

      There is nothing like farm life is there?

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture and an update of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  13. Cindi says:

    Yep, I’m certain of it ~ if I had the good fortune to live the true farm life, I would be just like you. Worry, stalk, worry some more, stalk some more. Hope, hope, hoping that the storm doesn’t stop you from being able to personally welcome little #88.1!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Cindi,

      Oh that worrying is just crazy. I laid in bed listening to the howling wind and blowing snow and worrying myself sick over the baby. Even though we have the best shelter of trees that create such a great protection and Momma Cows are very, very smart… I still worry!

      Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture and an update of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  14. Judy Mac says:

    Loved this blog entry and not so much too…now you have left me stressing about a cow I have never and will never meet…don’t wait till your next scheduled posting to tell us the outcome. Fingers crossed #88 and babe are doing just fine.

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Judy!

      Not going to keep you worrying! Momma #88 had her calf and all is well! I’ve added a picture and an update of the baby at the bottom of my post!

      – Dori –

  15. Victoria Hall says:

    Oh Dori, does this bring back memories. Several years ago I lived on a little farm in Idaho. Had my darling, precious Jersey milk cow, Nancee. What a sweet, gentle spirit she was. I obsessed over that cow consistently. Yes…especially when she was getting ready to calve. I had forgotten how nutty I was and all the “signs” I would look for. Thanks for bringing those precious memories back to me. Yep..like trudging out to our little barn to milk at 5:00 a.m. and it’s -15. Wouldn’t change it for the world!!

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Hi Victoria,

      Some people would probably call us a nutty group huh??! :-) The things we do for our sweet animals. And cows? Oh my word, they are sweet aren’t they?

      Thanks for sharing your cow memory with me!

      – Dori –

  16. Becky says:

    Congrats!!

  17. Coletteb says:

    ?Is there not anything more beautiful then a new little life so full of promise,life and adventure!
    Welcome little calf#88

  18. Deb Ganschow says:

    Dori… Enjoyed this blog very much. Have been thinking about starting a blog about my mini ranch for some time – just not sure how to start. I am on mini calf baby watch today myself with 2 looking like they are coming soon. Difference is – I can pick my baby calves up and carry them. Can’t wait- so excited!

  19. Susan Taylor says:

    Thanks for the story lol. I’m going thru the same thing right now, I just had one calf born a month ago. I have two other heifers that teats have blown up but nothing’s happening which is why I googled this to begin with. Thanks for the encouragement!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>