Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The waiting game

I think I can honestly say that I am having a harder time with the waiting, for Sassafras to have her calf, than I did with birthing my own children! (Laughing but I'm serious).
With the birthing process of my own offspring, there were ultrasounds, doctors input, opinions & helpful advice from other moms, support groups, videos to be watched... Ways of KNOWING what would happen, & that ultimately my baby & I would be alright, even if the birthing process didn't go as well or in the manner that I planned.

With my silly pet cow, it's anyone's guess how long her gestation period is. There is literally a 20-day window  which this birth could fall in, (cows have been 272 - 292 days gestation) & we are in that "donut hole" right now. The vet said one date (7/12/2017), & the AI, who is an expert on miniature cattle, said a different date. (6/24/2017). Well, the 24th was here & gone, & we're still waiting.

Jill, from Prairie Homestead, studied her cow & documented in photos as well as a blog post, the changes & so forth that her standard size Jersey went through in the 2-weeks leading up to the birth. Things like the vulva swelling/becoming engorged, the udder becoming so full that she didn't know how there could be ANY MORE added or the poor thing might burst, then more being added still. She even made note of how the teets themselves resemble coke bottles in shape until just a few weeks ahead of calving, at which point they fill out to what one thinks of when thinking of a healthy udder. This observation was also made by another cattle owner I'm not familiar with, who also described them as resembling coke bottles, & stated that the wrinkles would fill out the closer she got to calving.

★ This theory was confirmed through personal observations of a friend's cow. The friend is new to cows & #2 heifer was freshening for the first time. She was going crazy not knowing how far away the birth would be, so due to the experiences gleaned from the milk route & interactions with the Amish dairy world, she called us. She was just SURE something was wrong, because the heifer was over her due date & wanted a second opinion on if everything was OK or if she was over reacting, so I was able to visualize these pre-calving signs in #2 before needing to recognize them in Sassy.
★ Going over the approximate due date isn't uncommon. Just like humans, the first time around the body is just trying to get the hang of things, so it will go over the due date sometimes.
Yet another owner, who's apparently had quite a few cows to watch this in, had observed that just prior to calving, (24 to 48 hours) the cow will begin to arch, or kink her tail in preparation for the calf to make passage. The person stated that this is a sure shot way of knowing you'll have a new calf shortly, & was confirmed by several others in the forum.

I find this all very interesting, but what I find even more interesting, is there are really not THAT many people who have been watching their cows that closely, so there isn't a ton of info out there on this. In today's day & age... It just hits me as interesting. So I've been trying to observe & take photos. The photos haven't turned out well because she's a dark brown/black, but I have good intentions.

When I bought Sassy, I intended to have a family milk cow. Nothing more. I never actually thought I would grow to love her like a pet, or that I would enjoy her as much as I do. I mean what can you do with a cow? You can't exactly play fetch with it, or cuddle up with it on your lap to read a good book... But ... Despite that, she has been very good for my battered & bruised soul. She behaves like an overgrown puppy. A 500lb, exuberant, genuinely affectionate puppy, who wants nothing more than to be petted,  brushed &/or scratched. She sometimes gets so thrilled to see me coming that she dances. Literally, dances a jig. Other times getting so happy that she rubs her head & face on me. So, I can honestly say that it's kind of nice to be so loved by an animal that she dances for you...