It just never, ever, fails; every single year they pick the absolute WORST weather, in the absolute WORST location...and that's when they do it!
Oh BTW...we're talking about calves here (as in 'Cow' babies). ...
Over the past two nights we've had one of the worst snowstorms in history. Heavy wet snow measuring in "feet". All day I had my fingers crossed
hoping for no calves today or tonight. We've got 5+ ready to go. Well, tonight around 6pm the matriarch decided it was time. One problem...she did
this all the way up in our high pasture, at the furthest point. The first hike up the hill through 14+ inches of mud thick wet snow was exhausting.
The main mission was to make sure everything was going okay for momma.
It was starting to get dark and had begun to snow again (grrreat!!). My wife and I got to within 50' or so and a quick check through the binoculars
revealed momma was having problems! Now it was "ALL HANDS ON DECK!!". I humped it back down the hillside through the snow (running as best I could),
ran in the house and loaded up a backpack with the emergency obstetrics stuff (pulling irons, ropes, shoulder gloves, towels, antiseptics, etc.) . By
then it was completely dark. I loaded up my gear on the ATV and headed out back up the hill. The wife stayed behind to see if she could get the rest
of the cows in the corrals. The snow drifts were so deep she couldn't close the gate, so she had to make a makeshift gate closure with shovel stuck
in the snow and the gate chained to it.
In the process of the wife struggling with the gate, one of the other newborn calves escaped through a feed bunk and was completely outside the fence
(just wonderful!!). By the time she got back up to me and told me about the calf being out...coyotes lit off howling on all four sides of me!
DAMMIT!!! There were coyotes everywhere, all around us! Really? What next??? Well, it wasn't over yet!
About this same time the cows and our herd bull down below figured out the jerry-rigged gate and got through it. So now Jack, our herd bull, and the
rest of the cows were headed back up the hill to where we were. Jack charged my wife a little in the dark and she spooked and headed for the boundary
fence. Coyotes were all around us now, and our matriarch cow was having birth problems.
So I had to leave the ATV and head back down the hill on foot through the snow again, in the dark, to find the escaped calf and try to get it back
inside the fence. Of course her momma was having a complete meltdown by now and ready to kill anything in sight. Extremely dangerous situation...on
foot, in the dark, in deep wet snow, with a pissed off momma, a mad herd bull and a whole herd of cows trying to protect everything.
Once at the bottom of the hill I found the calf behind a haystack about a 100 yards from the corrals and, after several attempts, managed to wrangle
her back into the pasture with her momma. (one crisis averted). Then it was back up the hill again to our birthing matriarch. By the time I made it
back up the hill a mile or so to the ATV the cows were all busily munching on everything on the ATV. In my rush, I'd stuck some towels I wanted to
keep dry inside of an empty feed sack and rolled it up (mistake). They all thought I brought them a bag of feed and were eating the ATV. Chased them
and Jack off finally and got back to momma cow giving birth. My wife had exited the pasture about 45 minutes before and was keeping an eye on momma
from distance with a light from out in an adjacent field.
I was literally kneeling down in the snow and laying across the seat of the ATV gasping for air and trying to catch my breath at this point.
(btw...we're at 7,300 feet above sea level). I caught my breath, took a drink of water, put my pack on and started marching over to where momma cow
was. As I was walking I was rigging up a hobble out of rope and trying to figure out a plan. Right then, my wife hollered out..."She righted the
calf!! She just gave birth!!! It's ALIVE!!" I actually just stuck my hand up to let her know I heard her in the wind and driving snow...then just
collapsed on the ground in the snow.
By the time I got all the gear rounded back up and secured, went over to pick up my wife at the gate on the ATV and we headed back toward the house it
had been about 4 hours of non-stop intensity. I was feeling bad earlier for not working out today, but it was such a crummy day I just didnt' feel
like it. I don't feel bad anymore.
It will be a long night tonight still. It's been about 45 minutes now since the calf was born. We left her (momma) up there to bond with her calf,
get it cleaned up and nursing. Before long I'll need to head back up the hill again to get the calf. There's no way it will be able to make it back
to the corrals through the snow, not tonight. Then most of the rest of the night will be spent making sure the damn coyotes stay away.
Every single year we go through this. They calve in the absolute worst weather, at the worst possible time in the most awful location.
But you know what, seeing those little ones skip around every spring is worth it all.
edit on 4/17/2016 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)