Here she was just a few days before she gave birth, outside in the pasture with the other cows. The family we'd bought her from had told us that she was due "anytime from Feb. through April" so that left us guessing a lot! We have no experience at all with calves or calving, but thanks to Google we managed to figure some things out. For example, one of the things we read that would tell us birth was coming soon, was that her vulva would get "springy". "What the heck does that mean?" I wondered. Google Images came to the rescue! lol I got to see lots of pictures of pregnant cows' "springy vulvas". And it did help immensely because when we saw hers getting good and springy, we moved her from the snowy pasture and other cattle, to a cozy stall all by herself. And only 3 days later she gave birth! It was only January 17th, not quite "Feb to April" as we'd been told.
In case you are curious, a "springy vulva" means that the cow's vulva becomes large, swollen, and starts to hang there and "spring" (bounce) when she walks. ;)
There are a few other signs one can look for to see if birth is coming soon, like her udder getting full or mucus coming from the birth canal. And finally you should see her pelvic bones spreading out just before birth occurs. So, you can imagine that I spent a good amount of time staring at that cow's vulva and backside! And when I wasn't analyzing hers I was surfing photos of cow vulvas online! Woooo!
This is the day before her calf came.
My husband or I would check on her pretty often, but then on the 16th I discovered her like this! It appeared that there was something that might be trying to come out of her backside!
I was so excited I ran for my husband and then began checking on her constantly, every hour or so. The whole day passed with no calf though, just lots and lots mucous. The next morning I ran out there first thing expecting to maybe see a calf but alas, just more mucus. And she was eating and acting all normal. I went back inside for our homeschool morning. When I came back out again just after noon- this is what I found!
AAAH SO CUTE!
I was soooo excited of course that I ran to the house (okay big pregnant ladies don't really run), opened the front door and announced "everybody put on your coats and boots and come outside to see a surprise!!"
It is a little girl calf! YAY! We've named her Heidi. Here she is the next day, all dried off and playful.
One of the very first thoughts I had when I discovered the calf lying there next to her mama, was "Oh thank goodness, nothing went wrong with the birth....". We had spent so much time reading about cow birth, and I had scanned through chapter after chapter of all the potential things that can go wrong during a cow birth. I was so nervous! But lo & behold, as in the majority of human births, all went just fine and Elsie didn't need us at all. She knew just what to do. She is such an awesome mama cow, very protective of her baby.
And now, we are milking again! Twice per day for the time being. Here my oldest son is, doing the milking. That has been a whole different and confusing adventure in itself. I'll post about that at a different time. All of the kids are right next to me waiting impatiently because I told them we would go take the calf for a walk after lunch. Apparently lunches have been eaten!
We want to halter train the calf, and get her real good and tame so she might be our wonderful, mellow milking cow in the future. Her mama, Elsie, is a great milker, her udder is SO fast and easy to milk, but her personality's not all that mellow. She hates being touched and is kind of like working with an overtired 2 year old child much of the time. I have high hopes for little Heidi! I do hope she inherits that great udder, and that she ends up being a very sweet cow lady.