Apparently her huge belly is probably due to grass bloat. As far as the vulva beginning to get swollen (which I photographed--and which has since subsided), we have to put that down to hormones.
So we have been waiting over nine months for a calf when there is no calf. Why???
Because we didn't get Sara preg-checked!
I told the vet we had her AI'd, and he asked, "Didn't they preg check her?" No, they didn't. We didn't ask them to, but they know we are newbies, and they didn't suggest it. The vet told me he could come do it himself. What a waste that I didn't think to ask someone!
When we had Sara AI'd at the clinic the first time, they suggested we leave her there till they could ultrasound her since we didn't have any other cattle that would clue us in if she came in season.
When Bickett told us they could come here and do the AI instead of sending Sara there, I guess we all assumed that Siobhan and T-Bone would clue us in if Sara came in season. Well, they never did. We never saw them try to mount her, nor her try to mount them. So we assumed she was bred. Even right before we brought her up into the barnyard (when we now KNOW she was open), we never saw any signs from any of the cattle.
We also have never seen a sign that Sara lost a calf or delivered prematurely. So the only conclusion we can come to is that the AI didn't take, and we've been feeding an open cow for the last nine months. This is definitely NOT something a farmer wants to do! It's a double loss--wasted feed and no calf.
Everything worked perfectly the first time. Sara's breeding took with one AI straw, and we got Siobhan. I naively figured it would be so easy the next time. Well, it wasn't. We've now had two AI attempts fail--this one for Sara and the most recent one for Siobhan.
We have learned a very costly lesson, mostly to our pride! (Unless you count the hay Sara ate last winter.) In fact, we have learned several things:
1) AI is not sure-fire.
2) Always get a cow preg-checked!
3) A bull preg-checks for himself! And he doesn't charge for second attempts.
4) Always get a cow preg-checked!
5) You don't need to worry about a bull returning your phone calls when you want a cow bred. You also don't have to worry that he won't consider your cow important because you only have one or two. Whichever cow is with him at the time is the only cow in the world, as far as he's concerned!
6) Always get a cow preg-checked! It's cheaper to pay the vet than to leave a cow open for a whole year!
In case you were wondering, my face is as red as that head gate. Why am I writing this post, then? Because I hope my stupid mistake might save some other newbie from making the same one!