July was a very challenging and, most importantly, rewarding month on our dairy farm. We had 101 calves born! Part of the challenge has been the unseasonably high temperatures. The mother cows just get tired of pushing when they are in labor in 90 degree weather and I have to say I just can’t blame them. It’s all ok, though. That is all a part of Anne’s summer job. She has done a spectacular job of checking on all the laboring cows numerous times a day, and has assisted many with their births on the especially hot days. I am thankful for her diligence and I know the laboring cows are, too.
Another challenge is unpredictable job hours. Just like an obstetric doctor gets called to duty day and night, so do we. Sometimes right when you have something fun planned, duty calls — a calf is on its way into the world! We are willing to put our plans on hold because our cows are important to us and we want to give them the best care possible.
Taking care of newborn calves also can be challenging. Some are very heavy. Anne has enlisted my help a few times to retrieve a newborn calf from the pasture field. (If everything is going fine with a cow’s labor, we let them deliver out in the pasture. Anne goes out to the pasture several times a day to check on the cows. After delivery new calves have to be brought in from the pasture for their ear tags and vaccinations.) We made quite a strenuous job fun and silly with all of our laughing while trying to hoist a big newborn into the back of our ATV!
Even with all these challenges, the rewards are even greater. You put in a hard day’s work and have a sense of accomplishment knowing you did your very best. And there is nothing quite like seeing the mother cow lick off her baby as it takes in its first breath of life. It’s special to watch a few moments later when the calf takes its first steps on wobbly legs as its mom nudges it with encouragement. Knowing you helped bring this healthy calf into the world is definitely a reward that outweighs all of the challenges!