So of course we had babies born this week. We moved Lana and Misty from the big pasture to a smaller pasture closer to the house a few weeks ago, so we could keep a closer watch on them with the bad weather we've been having this month.
Misty was due first and it looked like we might get lucky and she would give birth between storms. Her ligaments had loosened, her udder was filling nicely and she was showing signs of mucous. All the things we look for when on baby watch.
Well... not only did she waltz right past the 'nicer' weather... when it was actually above freezing for a few days. Nope... Misty waited until it was the very coldest day we've had this entire winter. The high for the day was 22 degrees, we had a strong north wind, and she waited until after the sun set to actually start hard labor.
Misty got very nervous and we weren't able to get her into the barn when her water broke. Now we were running out of time and she was having trouble delivering her baby... so we pushed her into the chute (outdoors of course) and went in to check. Big, big baby and this was Misty's first calf. She needed some assistance with birthing it.
Did I tell you it was freezing outside? If we touched anything at all, our hands or fingers froze to it and then we ripped the skin off when we tried to get loose. Pulling a calf is hard work on a good day, let alone 5 degrees outside! On top of that, Misty decided she didn't like what was going on and she wasn't going to co-operate... so down she went in the chute with no intention of getting back on her feet.
Hmmm... now we were on our hands and knees in the birthing fluid and muck that froze on contact with the cold air. We started to get a little worried about saving her calf. We re-grouped for a minute, rearranged the calf puller, placed the chains on the calf a bit farther up, and working from the ground, we started to make some progress. After a lot of stretching and pulling, we eventually managed to get the calf out and on the ground.
At this point we may have been questioning our choice of raising cattle... at least in January... in NE Oklahoma. :-/
Good looking bull calf. Having a little bit of trouble because he'd been in the birth canal so long. We got him on his brisket, cleaned out his mouth and nose and he started breathing on his own. We let Misty out, once we got her to stand back up, and she went straight to her baby and started licking him and making those sweet momma moos. Unfortunately, the little guys was turning into an icicle as we stood there.
Loaded the big baby in the back of the 4-wheeler and with momma Misty close behind we made a slow trip over the frozen mud and ruts to the milk room, where there is heat and hot water. We had more help than we wanted at that point as all the horses and mules came up to see what was going on and wanted to be part of the excitement.
We dried off the little guy as best we could with towels and then went back over him with the hair dryer. Sure didn't want him loosing ears or tail to frostbite after all that work! Misty was closely supervising the drying process and telling her baby to get back over to her. He was trying his best to mind mom. :)
We are always amazed at how gentle and trusting the Murray Grey cattle are. Misty walked right inside the milk room with us to make sure her calf was alright. She's a pasture born cow that hasn't been inside a building and yet she never tried to leave her calf or get stupid and hurt one of us or herself during the trauma of her giving birth, us having to pull the calf, and take him to a strange place. It doesn't surprise me that Murray Greys are becoming such a popular breed of cattle now that more people are learning about them. They are the best!
Two days later when Mike got home from Tulsa, he noticed Lana was acting differently than normal. When he went out to check on her, he found that she had just given birth to a nice, long legged heifer calf. Mom was doing well and was busy cleaning her baby up, but baby was cold and shaking.
Once again the temps have been below freezing for many days and the cold wind blowing strong. Baby got covered up with hay in hopes to block some wind and help warm her up. After a quick bite to eat and heading back to work, Mike got the feeling something wasn't quite right. He moved the baby and Lana up to the barn and out of the wind where they had some shelter.
About an hour later he went out to check on the cows and their new babies. As he walked into the barn, he thought that Misty's baby was trying to nurse on Lana. Then he noticed the second calf was new... Lana had healthy twins! Both babies were born completely unassisted. Lana had them both cleaned and dry- up and nursing. Those babies were sure glad to have room to run and play! Lana has a challenge with those two energetic calves and she is doing a great job. She's a very good cow momma and proud of her babies!
Happy New Year!
Russell Ranch is located in beautiful NE Oklahoma, just a few miles from the Illinois river in Green Country. There are lovely rolling hills, lots of wonderful lakes and rivers, and forests full of wildlife.