This evening, March 4th, I went outside to bottle feed our first calf that was born this year. We are what would be called seasonal, which means that our cows only give birth in March, April and May. Doing so helps make it easier for the farmer to get all the hard work over in one go. The first thing that we feed a calf after she is born is its mother's colostrom. Colostrum is what the mother produces right after birth. It is the most important drink for a newborn. If it were not for that drink, the calf would not survive. Maria poured the colostrum into two bottles for me and I made my way to the calf shed.
Huddled in the corner was the cutest, littleist black and white spotted calf. Birth is just an amazing thing to me; I can't help but smile when I see a newborn. The truth is I see many new born calves and many cows give birth and you would think that after a while it would begin to get boring and not as exciting. That never happens, every time I see it, it's like I've never seen it before.
I walk up to the calf bottle in hand and start by stroking its fine, soft fur. It is still wet from birth. It just dawned on me that I am the very first human that she ever laid eyes on, I am the first human that ever touched her. Very gently I put the bottle nipple to her mouth. Because she has never done this before, she is confused as to what that is. So I put my thumb in the corner of his mouth to open it up, then I stick the nipple in her mouth and she begins to suck! It's amazing that they just know how to do that without even thinking.
Once the first bottle is empty, I head back to the barn for the second bottle. Still hungry the calf stands up and follows me to the gate. I wonder if those were the very first steps that she ever took. Calves are born with the ability to walk right away—another amazing thing that they just know how to do by instinct.
When I return with the second bottle I notice that she is shivering, poor thing! After she sucked the second one down, I pick up some of the straw and begin to rub her down to dry her. Then I ran back to the barn for a calf blanket and wrapped it around her, then I made a little nest out of straw and picked her up and set her in her bed. She stopped shivering and began to nestle in.
"Good night," I whisper.
Have a great Spring!
Your Farm Friend,
Farm Fact: Cows are sedentary animals spending up to 8 hours a day chewing the cud while standing still or lying down to rest after grazing. When going to be milked, a certain cow in an established herd always leads the others with the weaker and older cattle trailing behind the group.