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, July 7, 2013

Operation Tundra: Our Calf Rescue Op

(NOTE:  This was written yesterday, July 6, 2013.)

I've been keeping a close Calf Watch on Sara for the past few days (more on that soon).  Last night when Jean-Marc went with me to check her, I told him I thought she could calve "tonight or tomorrow."  We got home  late from a wedding last night, so I didn't do another check because I know Sara is a completely capable mother.

We all lazed in on this gray rainy morning, but shortly after noon I asked who wanted to check on Sara with me.  Jenny and Jean-Marc bravely bedecked themselves in borrowed rain gear and came out with me.

We found Sara in a relatively sheltered spot, and sure enough, she'd had her calf.  (This photo was taken at 12:19 p.m.)

We  watched them for a few minutes, and the calf finally got up.  We could see her umbilical cord dangling.

When Sara turned away to graze a bit, we could see that the calf had nursed at least once because the right side of Sara's udder was way emptier than the left side; that side was still full to bursting with the teats strutting as I had seen it last night.

I told Jenny and Jean-Marc that I thought this just might be a heifer as it was too pretty and dainty to be a bull.  The calf obliged by moving around and twitching her tail, and sure enough, we have another heifer!

The calf tired quickly and went to lay back down where it had been while Sara moved off a ways to eat.  What a beautiful spot to be born, even if it is a rainy, grismal day!

After a few minutes, Sara came back to her calf and tried to make it get up, but despite her vigorous licking and even shoving it with the side of her horn, practically rolling it over, the calf just huddled on the ground, shivering so violently that her back leg was jerking in the air.

 That was when I kicked into my "Black Op" mode and cooked up a secret mission.

With all the talk of spies and surveillance in the news lately, it behooved me to protect the identities of the agents involved in this op by giving them secret identities.  Since I initiated the op, I will henceforth be known as "M"--for Mom.

Agents 001 and 002, were so named because they volunteered for this dangerous mission.  001 is taller than 002, but if I tell you any more, I'll have to kill you.

M, along with 001 and 002, returned to Headquarters to recruit one more agent, numbers being crucial to the success of the mission.  That is how 003 became involved.

Our Black Hawk being currently in the shop for repairs, we opted for our other stealth vehicle, our (appropriately black) Toyota Tundra for which the mission was named.

Q issued our secret gadgets, disguised as chunks of apple in a plastic baggie and a pile of sweet feed in a rubber bowl.

The Tundra carried us safely through the rain, and 001 volunteered to shut the gate behind us.
M and 003 used the apple chunks to divert the horses into the Back Pasture where they could not interfere with the mission.

As expected we found the objects of our mission where we had left them, no surprise since the calf wouldn't get up.
M went into full Black Op mode, bribing Sara with the sweet feed.  Unfortunately, an enemy spy in the guise of Misty had escaped from its prison in the hay barn and followed us into the middle of our target territory.  Since Sara hates dogs, we were worried that Misty might derail the mission, but fortunately Sara was more interested in the proffered bribe.

The mark took the bait, and the mission was a "Go!"

Letting Sara have only one quick taste, M (who had assigned herself the second-most dangerous role) moved away from Sara, drawing her farther away from the main target of the mission--the calf.

To our surprise, Plan A began more smoothly than we had hoped.  Every time Sara started to turn her head to look for her calf, M shook the feed pan closer to her nose, and Sara's attention immediately swerved back to the feed.  Once she had Sara's complete attention, and once they were far enough away, M waved a hand behind her in a secret signal to 003, who had volunteered for the most dangerous part of the mission as Point Man.  If the mission were to fail, he would be impaled on the point of Sara's horns!

Surveilled closely by the persistent spy Misty, 003 moved over to the slippery, shivering calf.

He picked it up in his arms, closely observed by Misty and by his fellow agent 002 with the camera.  It was important to record the details of this mission, and 002's role was crucial.

003 struggled up the steep bank toward the relative safety of the Tundra.
 001 was waiting patiently in the back of the truck to help receive the calf.

Meanwhile, M had opened the back gate and headed into the Lower Pasture toward the run-in shed, followed closely by Sara who was completely oblivious of  what was happening to her calf.
001 petted the calf . . .
 ... and moved it further into the truck for safety while 003 headed to the driver's seat of the Tundra.  003 drove very slowly and carefully yet without wasting any time.  He and his fellow agents knew that Sara might have already finished the feed and be heading out of the pasture looking for her calf.
The Tundra rounded the corner and passed the Back Pasture, and there was no sign of Sara.  So far, so good!
003 skillfully negotiated the tight turn through the gate left open for him by M.
They were safely into the Back Pasture!  002 closed the gate behind them and hurried to catch up to the Tundra which headed for M and Sara, who was still pursuing her bribe thanks to M's careful negotiations.  001 balanced himself in the bouncing truck, gently holding the calf to make sure she wouldn't try to stand up.  When asked later what it was like to hold an hours-old calf, he replied, "Like nothing I've ever experienced!"

Lifting the calf from the truck, 003 acceded to M's request to pet her before he set her carefully on her four feet.

The first thing the calf did was move over to the truck and touch it with her nose as if she were saying, "Thank you, Tundra, for rescuing me."

The bribe finally consumed, the next thing Sara did was move over to her calf and begin to lick it.
While Sara licked her calf all over, M and 003 removed the hay ring from around the thick bed of old hay in the corner of the shelter so that Sara and her calf would have a well-furnished safe house.
Sara, however, did not feel the need to keep her calf in the safe house, and she gently enticed the calf to follow her, licking it and softly mewling in her tender mother cow voice.  At this point Misty defected to the Tundra team and volunteered to see the mission through.

Declaring the mission a success, the team celebrated with an official photo for release to the press.  Agent 002 opted to take the photo of the others.  We wish to recognize her faithful service along with that of Agent 001, M, and Agent 003.
We would also like to officially recognize Agent Misty, the last to be recruited and also the last to leave the field.  She stood guard for a while until she was sure that Sara and her calf were safe under the trees.

No mission is ever successfully completed until the last gate is closed, and 001 helped to wrap this one up.

Before the team returned to headquarters for a very late lunch, the good news was carried to Siobhan and Macree--Siobhan has a sister and Macree has an aunt!

Oh, and the calf has a name, too.  Wanna guess what it is?


  1. Exciting! I had wondered where 001 and 002 were for the past few days...! I'm not a good guesser, what's her name?

    1. Tundra! What else? :D Ireland was a frozen tundra 10,000 years ago; the Irish word for tundra is "tundra;" AND it's feminine in French, so we figured it would work--and we love that it has a story to go with it!

      Oh, and 001 and 002 are home safe now! :)

  2. Love the pic of 001 and 002 in their rain gear and smiles! Great post--you are hilarious! Even though you put your rescued mama and baby in a safe house, apparently you felt they didn't need new identities? lol

  3. For some reason, this comment didn't show up:

    Love the pic of 001 and 002 in their rain gear and smiles! Great post--you are hilarious! Even though you put your rescued mama and baby in a safe house, apparently you felt they didn't need new identities? lol

    1. You're hilarious, too, Barbara! I guess you could say naming the calf "Tundra" was giving her a new identity--anyone would expect "Tundra" to be a truck or maybe a moose, but not a cow! :)

  4. That's one good, chunky looking heifer calf but so much drama!

    1. Thanks, Brent, we're thrilled with her! No kidding about the drama--and it didn't even flood where she had been and she's fine now. But I know that if we hadn't intervened and she had problems, I would have regretted it. Better safe than sorry!

      On the other hand, we had to move Siobhan, our polled cow, and her calf and their escort bull to a new pasture today. It was so drama-free it won't even make an interesting post! Lead rope clipped to calf's halter, ditto Siobhan's, and down the road we led them. Back for the bull, and that was it! All we had was a little tugging from Siobhan and the calf--none from the bull!

  5. Haha, very funny, post, Aunt Susan! Tundra is the perfect name. :)

    1. Glad you like it, Carrie! It's a good thing I didn't have my Kubota RTV yet because I would have wanted to use it instead of the Tundra, and I don't think "RTV" would make a very good name for a calf. Nor "Kubota," either, unless the calf was reddish-orange! :)


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