3 May 2021 – Rainy and 42 degrees

We could no longer continue to wait on Valentine and Andie to have their calves, so we moved the herd south and out of our pasture about a week ago.  This way we could get our crop in the southern pasture by a decent date. We disked, fertilized, planted and harrowed the southern pastures.  It was a two-day event and we had both tractors going at the same time.  I wish I could explain how awesome it smells out here when disking up the fresh dirt (and rocks), but you’ll just have to believe me that it smells just like spring.

Dave in the distance fertilizing the southern pastures
Here I am dragging the harrow, covering up the seed and fertilizer

Because we were still waiting on two calves, we continued checks every few hours.  While Valentine has had a calf before, she was open last year and we wanted to keep an eye on her to make sure she didn’t have any problems.  Andie is a heifer, and since this is her first baby she warranted more monitoring as well.

In the late hours of the 28th of April, Dave went to check cows and said he thought Valentine would likely calve that evening.  He came in from looking at her around 1030 PM.  I went out to look again at 1:30AM and as soon as I turned off the Mule I could hear the low and constant mooing that is typical of a new mom.  I used the spotlight and found her standing there nursing her fresh little calf.

Valentine and her fresh little baby.

The next day we were able to determine it was a heifer, and Valentine is so gentle and used to us that I fed her some cake while Dave tagged the little girl. She is #18 and because she is Valentine’s baby we decided to call her Frankie Valli.

Frankie and her new earring.

Valentine is so happy to be a mom again, but we were still waiting on Andie.  She was showing all the signs of imminent calving, and she looked bloated and miserable.  Finally on the evening of the 1st of May at the 2AM check I came back and told Dave he should probably go back and check at 3:30 or 4:00.  He did and Andie was still with the whole herd, laying there chewing her cud and doing NOTHING.  Ugh. Sorry, Dave!

At daylight on the 2nd, we looked out the window and could see Andie walk down a hill and put quite a bit of distance between her and the rest of the herd.  We watched her paw at the ground, walk in circles, back up multiple times, and stand there with her tail straight out as if she was really straining.  We gave her a bit of time and finally around 7:30 she lay down as if she was in labor.

Andie with her tail pointed straight out, straining and straining.

Dave and I and Joey took our calving kit and went to keep an eye on her from a closer distance.  She strained and pushed and strained and finally around 8:15 we could see her baby’s hooves emerging.  But then Andie would give up, stand up and walk around and her baby’s hooves would disappear back inside.  After a lot of ups and downs and what appeared to be complete agony, she lay back down for a big set of pushing.  This was over an hour after we had seen the hooves the first time and she was getting really tired so Rancher Dave snuck up behind her, grabbed the two little hooves and tugged.  Well, he actually really had to pull quite a bit and while Andie protested initially, she seemed to realize he was helping her and she began pushing while Dave pulled and they successfully delivered an enormous bull calf.

Right behind Andie you can see her fresh, still wet, baby. If you look close you can see blood on Rancher Dave’s glove.

Immediately after calving Andie, who has always been our least friendly cow, got up and angrily mooed and shook her head so Dave and I backed away quickly.  Then she went to work licking her new baby.  It was pretty amazing that after such a long and difficult labor that baby was up on his feet and nursing in the shortest time we have ever seen.

Since Andie is named after Dave’s good friend Andy, we named the calf after his favorite wine, Louis Martini.  We’ll call him Martini for short.

Andie and Martini resting after an eventful birth day.

So that brings us to the end of calving season 2021.  We were both so happy and tired after Andie finally calved.  We came back to the house and had breakfast and took a big nap!  That evening we checked cows before dark and everyone was looking really good and happy.

The Dirty Dozen photo-bombing again in front of the field full of calves.

That was last night, and we went to bed around 9PM and slept all night for the first time since mid-March.  Today we are getting a gentle rain, which is so good for the hay crops we planted.  Sometimes the blessings just pour on in.

That’s about it for now.  Next on the agenda is shoring up the corral for round-up and branding, more vehicle and equipment maintenance, getting the bees installed and the garden planted, and pretty soon we’ll be ready to bring the bull back for breeding!  For now, we’ll just enjoy all the new calfies and a few good nights of sleep.

Dozer and Lucille stepping out for a drink.

Thanks for reading, and keep it free out there in the real world!