One minute you’re chucking back the wine at dinner and the next you’re shoulder deep in cow in the middle of a thunder storm…
On Saturday I took advantage of a rare free evening to catch up with my boyfriend over dinner. We had just about finished eating when my grandmother called in a panic because her cow (that I had been sitting in the sun monitoring all week until now) had started calving. Of course of all the prior 10 days of glorious sunshine – she had held out for a hideous, wet and thundery night!
We quickly paid the bill and legged it for the car! We didn’t have time to make it home and back to change so unfortunately the attire I was stuck with was a dress, tights and heeled boots while Charlie had on a suede jacket and white shirt – ideal! We zoomed through to the farm in half an hour and arrived to my Granny running about in the middle of a lightening storm, trying to herd the Nelly into the yard. I just about had time to swap my heels for wellies before running out to give her a hand and after about 15 minutes and an absolute soaking, we managed to get her into a stable.
On first inspection it was obvious that the calf was coming backwards – time to sacrifice my dress as my coat sleeves wouldn’t roll far enough up my arm. It took me a further 15 minutes to get some ropes on his giant feet. I pulled and pulled but was making little progress by myself and in the end had to ask Charlie to assist. He was not entirely happy about this; made worse by the fact he grabbed a string of afterbirth, mistaking it for the rope I had asked him to hold! The entire situation was made ever more dramatic by the crazy fork lightening and loud rumbles of thunder overhead – like something out of a disaster movie… the whole thing was totally bizarre! About an hour later we succeeded in heaving a huge bullock calf out. Thankfully he was alive and breathing and about as knackered as I was.
I’m so grateful to be able to gain practical experience like this at home and prior to enrolling at vet school… it’s times like this that really remind me how passionate I am about animal care/veterinary medicine and I am so excited to get started in September!
After being sure both Nelly and calf were ok, we headed back to the house for a well deserved whisky. It definitely wasn’t the night we had planned but all in all a great success and a made for a good story! I popped back up to the yard to check on the calf a couple of hours later when it was more obvious that he had contracted tendons on his front legs. This is a fairly common problem, (especially with big calves) caused by the bones growing at a quicker rate than the tendons can keep up. I spent a while gently flexing his fetlocks and we managed to get him standing to suckle. This problem usually resolves itself within a week or so by the calf having to push itself up on its front legs to suckle.
He’s doing well at a week old now and we have appropriately named him Storm…