What a day it was today for calves! Joy's arrived nice and early this morning as expected. And, then there was Nellie. Some of you may recall that I bought Nellie late last year as a birthday present for Roar. She is Millie's older sister, and was the mother of Vicky Cristina. Since I had sold Vicky late last year, and Alex had decided to sell Nellie, I grabbed her, as she comes from a long line of strong, range-bred Murrays that produce awesome calves and I knew she would make a great addition to the core herd. She was bred to Tali (Morgan Rivers Talisman, also Vicky's sire), but the problem is that Alex wasn't sure exactly when, but he thought she could be due April 1st. I looked her over carefully when we sorted the girls into already calved, going to calve pretty quick, and not due anytime soon (Ruffie and Hilda). Nellie looked to me, unfamiliar with her, to fit into the latter group, as last year she had calved in May, thus it would have been possible but not likely that she could have moved up a full month.
This morning, after Joy calved, I strolled out to the south pasture to have another look at Nellie. I noted that she had a really full bag, but her girl parts were not very flobby and there was no pre-calving mucous that is normally seen. As for the bag, Ruffie has been known to bag up that heavy a month before calving, and as Nellie was the same age as Ruffie, I pretty well figured that she still had time, maybe a few weeks or so. Remember, this is my first time with Nellie calving, so I had no notes to go on.
This evening, I was feeding the dogs and watching the south pasture residents all down grazing at the bottom of the pasture. The horse, sheep, goat and two cows, Ruffie and Hilda. Nellie was no where to be seen, but that wasn't unusual, there is a huge hill out there and stock can be just the other side of it and be completely out of sight. But, I just felt a little nagging pull that said 'go out and see'. So, after the dogs finished up, I walked out to the south pasture to have a quick look. As I topped the hill, Nellie, who way lying down just the other side of it, jumped up and started growling, just like Millie does, and there at her feet was a big silver blob. I actually thought it was dead as I walked over, because it didn't move and didn't look like a live calf. Nellie kept growling at me and then nosed the calf, who raised its head. Good, it was alive. But it was covered in orange goo, as was Nellie's head (you can clearly see that in the pictures below), meaning that it was a hard delivery and the calf, stressed with the birthing process, pooped in its sac. Never a good thing, but then it popped to its feet, fumbled around for a moment, found a faucet and started vigourously nursing. I identified it as a bull, and a big boy at that, but obviously fine now, as he proceeded to drain the front tit and start working on a back one. I called for backup - Millie can be touchy with a newborn, and I wasn't sure about Nellie, who is a BIG girl, bigger than Millie. Dale arrived, we observed for a bit, then went to the barn for the scales - again.
When we got back, Nellie had clean out and was consuming stuff we won't talk about, which was perfect, as it made it easy to grab Beau and get him weighed. Dale thought I was off when I said around 100#, and taking a few pounds off for all the milk he'd drunk before we got him weighed, we calculated him down to 92#. That's a hefty boy! But given that Alex thought Nellie was due April 1st, if indeed she was and ended up calving 4 days late, that would account for the extra weight, but we simply don't know. But, we got him weighed and navel idodined without incident, and then it was time to think if we could possibly move them to the maternity pasture. It was a long ways there, up a big hill and thru 2 gates. The weather was closing in, and there isn't much shelter in the south pasture. Had he not been so stressed at birth, I would have just left them where they were, but I felt I had to make an effort if at all possible. And, then Nellie took matters into her own hooves by starting up the hill. Thus, with me pushing Beau and encouraging Nellie and Dale riding the rear in the puttputt, we somehow, miraculously got them all the way to the maternity pasture - where Millie promptly picked a fight with big sister. Dale broke it up, drove Millie and her pals off, and left Nellie and baby Beau alone.
Yes indeed, quite a day it was today!