Saturday, April 09, 2016

Bagged Up

Coco is not the only thing bagged up around here.  Bundaflicka Knitting Totes are being born as well.  There are a few new bags hanging from the barn beams, the only safe place for them in this barn.  I am having a lot of fun sewing them, but never have enough time as I would like.  With my premier spring show, the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, fast approaching I'm going to have to find the time. 

Coco is Having a Calf!

Coco was very unhappy and SCREAMING all day long.  I mean, really screaming.  The drive to breed is very strong in dairy cows.  They know what their purpose is.  Mr. Tim Powers, local cow inseminator came to our rescue.  Mr. Powers and his wife, a local high school physics teacher, are across from me at the Hamilton Farmer's Market.  His phone has an interesting message, "All calls received before noon will have their cows serviced that day."  Mr. Powers showed up at the farm and handed me a halter to put on Coco.  We had not put a halter on Coco up to that point but she cooperated nicely and we tied her to a post.  Now, we had been warned that this would be a difficult process.  Someone told us to tied her front to a post and her back legs to the tractor.  Not necessary.  Mr. Powers, a consummate professional, walked up to Coco, lifted her tail and in he went, up to his armpit (it seemed).  I gasped at the profound gesture and watched Coco lift her head up, nose to the sky.  Out the arm came and, I swear, Coco never screamed again.  Not at all.  It was the true meaning of "settled," the term farmers use when the females are bred.  Now it is nine months later and we are waiting the blessed event.  Coco is happy, calm, sucking up her warm sweet feed slop twice a day, munching on hay, and enjoying life.  Dr. Parfitt came out and looked at Coco.  He said there is no reason why she wouldn't do just fine birthing this calf.  The weather this April has been a roller coaster.  The early warmth and greening of the hillside has turned back to wintery snow and ice.  We built stalls in the barn for Coco and her buddies, the steers Rocky and Blacky, but they like to be outside.  When a hideous cold wind whipped up a couple of weeks ago, Coco slipped into the upper hay mow when I wasn't looking.  She wanted to be a warm, dry, safe place to have her calf.  I fenced her in to keep her there, with the big doors still open so she can see outside.  Monkey and her baby, Velveteen, are living in the hay mow along with baby angora goat wethers Bernie and Benny. Coco never gets lonely.  Yesterday I noticed a little discharge and checked her female area. It is puffy and soft.  I think we will have a calf this weekend.  I sought out my neighbor, Chris, who owned this magnificent farm back in the glory days when it had a hundred cows in the barn and 350 acres surrounding it.  He has birthed over a thousand calves.  Chris gave me a half hour tutorial on what to avoid, etc.  If Coco gives birth standing up the calf can break its neck falling to the floor, which happens when the cows are on concrete.  Coco is on a soft wooden floor covered with a few inches of clean hay (except for the intermittent cow pies).  He advises separating the calf from mother as calves will butt the bag and injure it.  I had hoped to leave the baby with Coco, as she had one calf two years ago that did not survive.  Her previous owner told me how grief stricken Coco was at the time and how she tried to give Coco another calf which did not help.  We'll see how it goes.  Chris said I can put Coco in a stall and tie the calf nearby but I would have to milk Coco to feed to the calf.  Doesn't see right, but this cow thing is new to me.  With Matt roaming around Texas in search of adventure I am on my own.  We'll see how it goes...