A few days ago, a friend of mine was talking about how their calving season was going. Instantly, some of my experiences when our cows started calving came to mind.
One of the most memorable was the very first time my husband asked me to help him with a cow who was having trouble delivering her calf. I had never witnessed a cow having a calf, let alone help with the birth. But I was about to learn.
My husband said to me after our supper guests had left, “Let’s go take a look and see if that cow in the barn has had her calf.”
No sooner had we looked in on her than I was told that she was in trouble and we’d have to help her. The first instruction was to be as quiet as possible. No problem. The next was to see if we could get her into a stall so my husband could get the chains on the calf’s feet. This was totally new to me so I was very interested in how this was done.
Once the chains were on the calf’s feet, the next thing I was to do was get the calf puller, which I had no idea what it looked like. But after asking several questions I located it. What I wasn’t prepared for was using the puller.
Directions were given, I put the puller on the cow and soon I was standing behind her and talking to her in a low voice as I worked my hand inside of her to help the calf move forward. Suddenly, the cow took off in circles all through the barn. Around and around she and I went with me holding on to the end of the puller for dear life.
I kept hearing, “Don’t let go! Don’t let go! She’ll stop!” Right, I thought. I was too terrified to let go for fear of what would happen if I did. At the same time I was praying mightily she would stop very, very soon.
And stop she did. Not only did she stop, but she laid down in just the right place so we could help her calf come into the world alive and healthy.
Once the calf was born and we had moved it up to her head, I watched as the cow nuzzled her new baby and began cleaning it up. My husband said we should go to the house for a while to give the cow a chance to be alone with the calf.
We returned to the barn about 20 minutes later. And there, on not quite steady legs, the calf was standing up and getting its first meal. All was well with mother and baby.
On the way back to the house, I told my husband even though it had been hectic for a while, I was glad I’d been there to help the cow give birth. And that witnessing the birth had been a truly awesome experience. And that I’d also witnessed a miracle – one that although I saw it thousands of times never lost its power to amaze me.