Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sweet Clara Belle

When we bought Mae, my milk cow, we were told she was due in September. And then September came and went, and it was clear she was nowhere near calving.

And then October passed... and November, and December. By January, I was convinced she would be pregnant for the rest of her life. Or that she wasn't pregnant at all, and all the signs were just some sort of cow phantom pregnancy. But then a couple of weeks ago, I noticed some bigger changes - her udder was fuller, her backside looked... well, like she might be getting closer to calving. (Which would make sense. Obviously she wasn't get further away.)

And then came the happy day, when Littlest One, came running inside saying, "Mom!! Mae's got a big string of mucus hanging out of her backside! It's all the way to her ankles!" (And it briefly registered in my brain that this wasn't a 'normal' thing for a six year old to say.)

Indeed, it turns out she was in the early stages of labor. Six hours later, she was in active labor, and the girls and I were lucky enough to witness it.  Nothing - absolutely nothing - is as amazing as witnessing a birth. It doesn't matter if it is animal or human or if you've been there for a dozen of them. Everything about it is miraculous, and perfect. Especially when nothing goes wrong. And thankfully, nothing did. In fact, it was really a pretty easy birth, only about 20 minutes from start to finish, two pushes and the babe was out. (Of course, it's easy for me to say it was easy. I wasn't the one pushing. This time.)

It was beautiful. As soon as the calf was out, Mae jumped up and started licking. And licking, and licking, and licking. And then when I got close, she licked my jeans for awhile. And oh, how I wish you could all hear her. She sweetest, softest little "moos" - just like a human mama would speak sweetly and gently to her babe, this mama cow talked to her calf. I didn't get all teary-eyed until I heard that sweet sound. It was instant, undeniable, absolutely pure and true love.

Fifteen minutes later, the little calf was up and standing. Err, well, wobbling. There was much wobbling going on. But it wasn't long before babe was nursing, and mama was calm and relaxed.

Having read - repeatedly - the tendency for sweet, gentle cows to turn into demon spawn once they calve, in an attempt to protect their calf from harm, I was a little leery of climbing into the stall with her to check things out. But some things must be done. And in this case, they must be done in relative darkness. First things first  - did we have a heifer or bull calf? Considering it was a black calf lying in the darkest corner of the barn with a protective mama  hovering, figuring that out wasn't all too easy. Or certain. I felt for boy parts, and couldn't feel any... so I went to bed hoping I was right and it was a girl. I checked again three times before I'd let myself believe it - it's a GIRL!!

Oh, how I wanted a girl. Yes, a boy would fill the freezer. But a girl means we can keep her. And breed her! And have more baby cows to love! Yes, for these past many months, I've been hoping beyond hope that Mae would have a girl, and she did. And - truth - I still feel every time I go out there, making sure the boy parts weren't just hiding for the past 24 hours.

Turns out Mae really isn't demon spawn. In fact, she doesn't seem to mind my being in the stall with her and Clara Belle. (Do you have any idea how long I've wanted a cow named Clara Belle?) I still won't put myself between mama and baby, and I won't put myself in a corner where she could kill me if she really felt like it, but she is pretty content with me being around. And little Clara Belle is so sweet and friendly and interested in me. And then she looks at me, with those big eyes and those loooong eyelashes, and my heart melts all over again.... yeah.

So I was up all night, between checking to make sure little Clara was still doing alright, and laying in bed feeling giddy because I officially have a milk cow - that is really in milk. Of course, that doesn't mean I can actually milk her yet, seeing as she's never been milked before. But that's a story for a different post.

For now, I'll just get another cup of coffee and head back out to the barn to watch our sweet little calf hop all around. And for now, I'll be the happiest farm-girl in the world.

I'm sharing this post over at Mama Kautz's Front Porch Friday Blog Hop!


Mama Kautz said...

LOVE her name!! and that there aren't any boy parts!! Oh I can't wait to watch her grow up! Thank you for linking up!!

Wendy said...

boy have I missed your blog. I laughed out loud about your little ones observation. This is so exciting. You're such an awesome farm-girl!