I sold our cows a few years ago, I now purchase feeder cattle and finish them
out on grass. Last year, I did take on a couple of heifers for the
winter just because they were part of a group. I planned to trade
them to my brother for more feeders. Plans are great, but nature is greater; last week we had a surprise birth at our farm.
I came home Friday night and immediately noticed the heifer sitting
by herself, legs out to the side, in calving mode. I used to calve out about 40 cows but I was really set-up for it then, this was going to be an extemporaneous birth. I got my
work clothes on and warmed up the tractor. I planned to lay down some
bedding in the barn which is kind of the equivalent of boiling water
during a human birth-it keeps the man busy. While I was being busy, I heard the heifer bawl
once and found her calf already on the ground. The little heifer reacted like an old veteran;
she licked her calf clean and just generally mothered her well. For my part, I took some bedding and made little piles around the calf to give it some comfort and left hay for the
cow. Every able-bodied steer came to check things out and stumble
through the scene, so I stood guard with a pitchfork until their
short attention spans were exhausted.
The next day, I checked on the pair to make sure things were okay. I should have been at work; instead I used some vacation time and stayed home. Adam Tongen and Mark Bruggeman made this possible by sharing my shift for which I am thankful. I needed to make sure the little calf got the colostrums milk he needed and adjusted to life. That morning, the calf had sucked from the front quarter of the heifer and got both front and back quarters in the afternoon. Farmers with cattle will appreciate how relieved I was that I didn’t have to try and introduce the little calf to his first taste of milk-its not an easy task.
The night of the birth, I remember going up to the barn to turn the lights off. The barn has a hip roof so the interior looks kind of majestic with the lights on. It felt a little like church and I considered how my efforts to help the heifer and calf had done very little. What the heifer needed was provided by nature and my affect on the outcome was pretty small. It’s like that in life, we are given the gift of life and an afterlife. We then spend our time on earth trying to earn this gift with good deeds. Truth is, life is a gift and you should just accept it and then do good things out of the kindness of your heart-not for reward or to make people think you’re something great.
Back to the calf, he’s doing fine and looks good. However, I needed a name for him. I thought about how nice it was that Mark and Adam had worked my shift so I could take care of the calf. Actually, the naming rights seemed pretty obvious. Ladies and gentlemen; I would like to introduce to you, for the very first time, Mark Adam Nelson-Angus calf.
Here’s a picture if you like, it was too big to post here.