It has been about 4 months now laying low in the family farm as we logically social distance from the busy and populous city life due to Covid-19.
While life here is not fast-paced and incredibly exciting, once in a while you get to experience some things that you never did throughout your childhood like the live birth of a calf.
I have never seen it in person.
So, when late Tuesday evening at around 10 PM when the highly experienced farm manager came calling around the house that the expectant cow was showing signs that she was ready to give birth, you bet I was rushing out into the freezing July night to watch and to give a hand where it was needed.
Naturally, when a cow is in labor it has to be allowed to roam free and find the best spot to lie down and give birth - at least that is what we learned.
So, she was released from her shed into the large open field right behind the enclosure. She skipped through the gate and into the darkness blending in perfectly into the night because of her black hide.
The only visible things were her glowing eyes as they caught the light of our chargeable lamps.
The sky was starless and the moon probably hidden behind a thick layer of rain clouds judging from the subtle drizzle hitting the uncovered parts of our wrapped up faces.
When I say it was freezing, best believe I mean freezing.
Passing the time...
As we waited for the cow to lay down in readiness for the birth, we had to do something to pass the time.
The four of us held conversation over glasses of Jamaican Rum, something that had become a personal favorite over the four months we had been staying at the farm.
- An unfortunate cricket landed in my drink and drowned. Probably the best way to go for the poor bastard. (No! I did not throw away the drink. 😆)
I am not much of a drinker but one cannot fail to appreciate the effectiveness of an alcoholic beverage in making an hour feel like 20 minutes and chasing away the cold.
That was swiftly followed by a game of Poker in the dark which we illuminated using a lamp and a torch.
By then the cow had found a perfect spot just a few meters away from where we had settled on the grass. The farm manager turned the torch towards the cow regularly looking for signs of legs or a head poking out of the cow.
- We could not longer feel the chill in the air on account of the rum that we had imbibed over the past hour and a half.
11:56 - It's time!
The farm manager directs his torch in the direction of the cow.
"It is time!" He yelled as he lifted himself off his knees.
The calf's legs and a part of its head were poking out slightly into the world.
Like the birth of a human child, we had to help the mother deliver. She would struggle to do it otherwise.
The farm manager grabbed the calf's legs and tagged slightly. That is all he needed to do. The rest of the body came sliding out as the mother cow offered one last loud mooooooo!!
Then in one of those inexplicable events in nature, the mother cow got up quickly and like an insatiable addict spent the next 2 hours licking the calf clean - from head to tail.
She tries several times to get the calf to stand up but her ravenous licks keep knocking the calf down.
Eventually, we step in and help keep the calf on its feet and tried getting her to suckle.
Some injuries were sustained in the process. The calf headbutted my brother and the farm manager as they struggled to get her to suckle. A swollen brow and cheek to remind them of the pleasant occasion.
She struggled to grab onto a teat because they were too thick so we had to milk the mother cow and feed the calf from a bottle.
All this went on till about 3 AM when we finally called it a night.
It will be another 10 days before we have to do this all over again for another one of the cows. She will give birth from the 25th or some days after.
Hopefully this time we get a birth in the day so I can get better quality photos.
Oh, BTW it is a girl!!!