It doesn't pay to relax.
I thought I'd caught up with most of my chores the other day and even went as far as having a little sunbathe on the deck for an hour or so.
In the meantime cow 63 must have thought the same thing and lain down amongst some broken concrete in a derelict piggery in her paddock. Somehow she managed to wedge herself in amongst the shattered concrete until she was stuck.
I eventually got round to getting the cows in for afternoon milking and happened to notice a young cow with what looked like a burst water balloon from a pretty bad party dangling out its back end. Considering all these cows were supposed to have already calved something was obviously amiss and warranted further investigation at the shed.
It was only a fluke that I even noticed poor old 63 stuck in the piggery but lucky for her something caught my eye and I discovered her predicament. Suddenly my cruisy day had got a whole lot busier.
I physically moved the worst of the concrete away from 63 which was a feat in itself, but when you farm on your own after a while you realise that strength and man power, while handy, is not always essential. Balance and manoeuvrability have a lot to do with shifting heavy things. In my opinion the Jersey breed sometimes gives up too soon and 63 had decided she was either already dead or still stuck because she would not sit up let alone stand.
I pulled her ears and tail and yelled at her a bit and eventually between the two of us she sat up but that was as far as she got. Damn her, this was now eating into my milking time and who had time to go and get the tractor which was as far away as possible on the other side of the farm.
But you can't just leave them so I locked the cows in the yard and raced off for the tractor, drove back, started the milking plant up and put the cups on the first row. While they were milking I went back to 63 and had a go at rescuing her by lifting her with hiplifters. She didn't like that and started struggling which unfortunately landed her back still stuck in the rubble. I had to walk away, so I could finish milking.
The heifer with the odd membrane appeared in the row and while she was being milked I donned a shoulder length plastic glove and delved inside her to see what the problem was. Sure enough there was a calf in there. I must have gotten mixed up at some stage and deemed her to have calved when she hadn't. I could feel the calf moving so it was imperative to get that out while it was still alive. I seized the moment and tied calving chains around the calf's front legs and went to draft the heifer out so I could deal with her separately but she pushed past me and was about to disappear into the night with the rest of the herd.
Luckily I managed to just swing a gate shut and trap her. And she quieted down. So much that I was able to sit on those calving chains and yay - the live calf was born. A bull. Boo.
Milking finished without further ado and after all was done and dusted I went and pulled 63 out of the piggery by tractor headlight. All I could think was "at least it isn't raining". If that is multitasking, you can keep it.
- © Fairfax NZ News