Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

That's What I Get!

To keep Ebby happy while I milk her, I've been singing to her.  (No comments from the peanut gallery--it really does work!)  I started singing while it was raining this morning, so it seemed natural to sing songs about water.  Tonight I sang "Like a River Glorious," "A Shelter in the Time of Storm," "Shall We Gather at the River," and finally "Showers of Blessing."

About the time I finished milking and was ready to walk Ebby and Seb back to the pasture, there was a terrifying crack of thunder followed by a torrential downpour.

Luckily I had the phone, so I called the house and asked if someone could bring my raincoat and help me get Ebby and Seb back to the pasture.  Here came Kara, trudging through the pouring rain and crashing lightning.  What a sweetie!

We got Ebby and Seb into the stall, figuring it was the safest place for them.  Kara brought me some hay while I filled water buckets.  In the 10 minutes it took to shut them in, the storm stopped.

It doesn't look like any more bad weather's coming, but we'll just leave them safe and dry in the stall.  In case there's another storm during the night, I won't have to worry.  But I think tomorrow I'll sing desert songs like "A Horse with No Name" and "Hotel California."

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Calf Disguises

Cows leave their calves sleeping sometimes while they go off to eat, and the calves have a way of blending into their surroundings.  The year before last, we had such long grass in the Home Pasture that Macree didn't even need to hide.  Last year we had red Wellie, who looked like a big ant hill.  Seb can't be an anthill because he's black, but he has some handy disguises, too.  See if you can find him . . .

The "pile of manure" disguise . . .

The "gorillas in the mist" disguise . . .

And the "water tank" disguise . . .

Could you find him?  Here's some help, in case you couldn't . . .

Peek-a-boo!  As long as Ebby is grazing calmly, we know Seb isn't far away.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Seb's Big Day Out

It started raining Sunday night and rained hard all day Monday and that night, so Ebby and Seb spent his first 24 hours and then some in a stall.  Today the rain stopped, and it was time for Seb to see the world.

He quickly found his "sea legs" and took off running.

Poor Ebby went racing behind him in an extended trot that would do a dressage horse proud.

As she followed her wayward son, she emitted constant plaintive moos.  I'm sorry to report that Seb completely ignored his mother and continued to gallop all over the field.

I think he even surprised himself with his speed.

He was very serious about having fun.

When he'd worked off some of his high spirits, Seb came up to get some petting.  What a sweet little guy he is!  (Even if he does worry his mother.)

Several times during the day he wouldn't follow when she wanted him to, so she stood there and bellowed for him until he came.  Mothers and their boys seem to be the same through all time, whether they're human or bovine!

Who could resist that adorable face?

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Dexter Calf is Born

Ebby was due April 4 with Royal's first calf.  After she was a week late, I began to jokingly call her unborn calf "Crock Pot" . . . because it was a slow cooker!  Finally, this morning I realized today would be The Day.  Ebby's pelvic ligaments were "gone" when I checked on her at 7 a.m.  By 9:00 a.m. she was visibly restless.   She came up top in her shelter, then went down to the bottom of the hill.  Back up top and down again, till she finally seemed to settle in her shelter.

We were celebrating our granddaughter Eden's second birthday today, so she could visit the animals--the high point of a visit to Didi and Mimi.  Of course . . . just as we were eating dinner, the calf decided to come.  I'd been checking Ebby's progress every 30 minutes, and I went out for another look at 2:45.  It was lucky I didn't take time to finish lunch!

NOTE:  Some of the photos are graphic. 

2:51 p.m.  The water bag.

2:51 p.m.
2:53 p.m.  Down and pushing.

2:56 p.m.  Up again.  The tip of a hoof (pale yellowish) beginning to peek out from the vulva.

2:57 p.m.  The second hoof begins to show, presenting properly.

2:58 p.m.  Down and pushing.

2:58 p.m.  Up again.

2:59 p.m.  At this point, it looked like everything was going back in.  That's when I called my friend Barb Netti, who has seen cows give birth, and as I narrated, she assured me that things were normal.  While we conversed quietly, Ebby cleaned up the blood-stained hay.

3:01 p.m.  A pale hoof tip clearly shows.

3:02 p.m.  Pushing hard.  Ebby was groaning, which was hard to hear.  Barb could even hear her on the other end of the phone.

3:10 p.m.  The left front leg is visible.  This suddenly looked like progress.  (Note Ebby's distended udder.)

3:11 p.m.  The calf is born, twenty minutes after the first photo.

3:11 p.m.  Ebby hadn't gotten up yet, so I pulled the membrane off the calf's face and used a couple fingers to clear mucous from its mouth, then stepped back.

3:12 p.m.  The calf was breathing and blinking; Ebby started eating the membrane.

3:15 p.m.  The calf sat up as Ebby licked it all over.

3:16 p.m.

3:17 p.m.

3:22 p.m.

3:22 p.m.  Eleven minutes after it was born, the calf tried to get up.

3:22 p.m.   Oops!  Gotta figure those legs out!
3:25 p.m.
3:26 p.m.  Fifteen minutes old, the calf tries again.

3:27 p.m.

3:27 p.m.

3:27 p.m.

3:30 p.m.  Nineteen minutes, and he made it to his feet!  (That's Sir Loin the steer looking on.)

3:31 p.m.  Twenty minutes old, and he's nursing.

3:34 p.m.  Meet ZH Royal Celebration, out of NewHope Ebony Belle, our first calf by Mrald Crown Royal.  He's named in honor of Eden's birthday celebration, and we'll call him "Seb."  He's black, horned (those feel like horn buds, and he likes having them rubbed!), and obligate A2/A2.

3:39 p.m.  Yum!

3:40 p.m.  More yum!

3:40 p.m.  Maternal bliss and baby bliss.  I wish I could post the gentle "mama moos" Ebby was making as she licked her new son dry.

3:48 p.m.  Our son Jim looked on from a distance with Kol and Charis.

4:01 p.m.  Ah, that feels better!

4:02 p.m.  Being born works up an appetite.

4:10 p.m.  Trying out a little buck.

4:10 p.m.  And again.

4:10 p.m.  And again.

4:16 p.m.  Charis got to pet the brand new calf--all soft and wet!

4:16 p.m.  Knowing Seb had a tummy full of colostrum, we headed back to the house, leaving mama and baby under the watchful eyes of the two steers and sire Royal (on the right).

How's that for a double birthday celebration?

Credits:  Many thanks to Eden, for sharing your birthday with Seb; to Monique for cleaning up the dishes while I attended the birth; to Herb for hauling warm molasses water to Ebby and weighing Seb (59 pounds with a tummy full of colostrum); to Jim for chaperoning Charis and Kol; and to Kara for being my milking buddy.  And a special thanks to Barb Netti of Legend Rock Ranch for talking this new grandma through her first birth!