Thursday, October 15th, 2015 - a day we'd been counting down to for 283 days - was a banner day here on our homestead.
Let me back up to Wednesday first.
(And this would be a good time for a...)
**WARNING** WARNING** If you are uncomfortable with graphic pictures and descriptions, now would be a good time to close the blog and come back tomorrow...or the next day...
On Wednesday afternoon, we discovered that Chelsea had mucous hanging from her vulva...
...swinging and swaying in the wind...and with every swishing of her tail.
We knew this meant things were getting closer.
We kept a close eye on her Wednesday afternoon. Then Wednesday evening. Then Thursday early morning.
But every time we checked on Chelsea she was just hanging out. Looking very much not like she was in labor. Just eating grass...or chewing her cud.
And then about 9:45 a.m. on Thursday morning, the boys came running back inside (they are not normally outside at that time, this was just the Lord's provision here!), yelling, "T-Bone got out of the pasture!"
I was not happy. I was quite cross, actually. When I asked where, and they told me which gate (one we don't use very often at all), I immediately realized that **I** had to be the culprit who left the lock on that gate not quite locked. (Looking sheepish) Details, schmee-tails....but that is enough about that...
By the time we got around to that side of the property, T-bone and Chelsea were out, and they headed straight over into the pecan orchard beside us (thankfully it wasn't across the street like last time).
But whereas in the past Chelsea had been very easy to lure back into the pasture with food, T-Bone was this time ("easy" still means at least 20 minutes)...and Chelsea was quite agitated and did NOT want to go back into the pasture.
Cows want to go off somewhere secluded to give birth...was this why she was doing this?
My brother Jeff had just flown in the day before, and he and dad were just finishing up hunting for the morning, so they were able to get here pretty quick and help us (FINALLY!) persuade Chelsea to go back into the pasture. I think her jaunt lasted about 30-45 minutes...but when we're in the middle of an episode like that it seems to last forEVER!
Lesson learned: I need to quick get changed into my boots when this happens...running around the pecan orchard in my black patent leather sandals was NOT ideal.
Then Jeff, mom and dad came over for lunch. We had a great time, and we're so thankful for that time.
They left at about 1:30p.m. or so. We immediately got the babies down for naps. I headed back outside to check on Chelsea, and thankfully, I asked Daniel to go with me.
Chelsea had a very long (like, to-the-ground-long) string of mucous hanging out her backside.
Daniel and I went to grab the other three bigs, and my big camera...and head back out for "the baby show."
By the time we got back out there, Chelsea now had a sac hanging out:
This looked even better (to my very-untrained eye) than the pictures I'd seen on the internet, as it was clear, and not red-tinged.
T-Bone had been at the other end of the pasture, but now made his way over. He was way too much in Chelsea's business for our liking (even trying to mount her two times!!! That is ten kinds of wrong!)...
...which she did not appreciate, so myself and the children persuaded him down the pasture and into the new paddock (sooooo glad we had this ready!).
That taken care of, we settled back in to watch Chelsea again. And we immediately saw a hoof poking out....
...and then it would sink back in. And then it/they would poke out.
Chelsea then moved over to our shelter. We watched - very quietly - from under the trampoline.
She laid down, pushed about three times (literally)....
|Hooves and a snout (everything pointing the direction it should - yay!)|
|The whole calf out!|
On that third push, the calf honestly just slithered/squirted out.
And I knew it was dead.
I was so thankful that Chelsea was o.k., but it was a foregone conclusion in my mind that the calf, whatever sex it was, had been stillborn.
After the calf was out, Chelsea waited about 3.4 seconds, hopped up, and started licking....
And licking. And licking.
And then...it moved!
It was amazing!
And Chelsea began immediately expelling the rest of the stuff that needed to come out...a process that lasted (off and on) for several hours.
From the time we discovered Chelsea with a long string of mucous, until the calf was here...38 minutes.
My friend Arica was headed to our house anyway (to bring us our last gallon of milk from her Bright Eyes) and just missed the birth, but got to be here for the next 1.5 hours, which was so fun...and helpful!
My goal in all this was to try to stay as much OUT of everything as possible. Cows know how to do this. Our vet Hank told me at community group the Sunday night before that 98% of the time everything goes just fine without any human intervention (but OH, that 2% number bothered me!).
So we watched Chelsea continue to lick...and lick.
And we watched the calf try to stand up. And try again in a little bit. And then try again a little bit later. To no avail.
And then he didn't try anymore. And then he looked like he may just take a nap. And it had been almost an hour since he'd been born. And he hadn't gotten up...and hadn't nursed.
And so Arica and I headed in. Perhaps everything would have been fine if we hadn't done this...but we didn't feel comfortable not doing something at that point.
Lesson learned: A friend who will not only help you paint your house, but help you with a new calf (getting poo and after-birth and such on herself) is a good friend indeed!
It took us several tries to get him (it was a he!) on his feet, and staying up on his feet.
But he finally got his feet under him...still very wobbly, but he stayed up:
And then George Franklin (some wanted George, some wanted Frank...we compromised) proceeded to "nurse" between Chelsea's front legs for forever. Seriously, I have so many pictures of this...but I will let one suffice.
We got out of the pasture to let them get it figured out...which he finally did!
|Chelsea is such a good mama! She positions herself so the back half of her is in front of George Franklin, and then she stands so still for him while he nurses.|
George Franklin is 4 days old now.
|2 days old. His eyes really don't look that freaky...they are just reflecting here.|
And he is officially the cutest thing.
And these pictures make it seem like it has just been "happily ever after."
But I have been such a Nervous Ninny! Honestly, this has been almost as nerve wracking (if not more!) than bringing home our two newborns!
He's just so little. This was great for an easy birth, but now I am ready for him to just run every where and nurse all the time and.....well, basically I just want him to look all hale and hearty.
And he doesn't. He sleeps a lot. Like all the time. Laying in the sun, in one favorite corner of the pasture. I wish he would at least sleep in different spots, because this makes it appear that he doesn't ever get up or move around or nurse.
Chelsea keeps pretty close by, but she gets up and eats, and drinks, and when she lays down to chew her cud, she wants to lay in the shade, which is 30-40 feet away.
I only saw him nurse once yesterday, at the end of the day. And he only did it then because **I** got him on his feet.
Now, I know he is a newborn, and newborns sleep a lot. AND....I do NOT spend all day outside watching, so (surely) I just missed him nursing. I know this (pointing to head), but I am still worried. I did just miss it, right?
So....basically, I am ready for him to get up, and stay up, all day and be a mischievous little thing, running and kicking all over the pasture.
Maybe today will be the day. This nervous-mama-heart would sure appreciate that.