But we didn’t walk as a family and the outing turned out to be anything but quick. Bill had an agenda: check on a cow that, a few hours earlier, had sequestered herself in the timber to give birth. #164 is seven years old and normally we wouldn’t be as concerned about birthing problems as with a first-calf heifer. But #164 already had a complication: she had been limping for several months. The cause was possibly a hip injury or disorder and could cause delivery difficulty. Compounding any potential birth complications was her attitude. She was one of the flighty “Boomer Sooner Bovines,” and hadn’t gentled down to the point where she would tolerate close human contact.
Hoping for the best possible outcome, that he would find #164 and a newborn calf, Bill headed out in the mini-truck to the last location where he had seen her, which was just off our walking path along the edge of the timber. Cricket and I took our usual route through the pastures and into the timber. We found the mini-truck but no Bill. I stopped and listened intently for sounds of movement through the underbrush while visually scanning as far as I could see into the dense timber. #164 may have moved further into the trees meaning Bill would have to hunt for her.
I debated about joining the search or continuing on while keeping an eye out for her. Hollering “BILL!” in this situation was a big-time no-no. If #164 was still in the timber, it could spook her. Ditto if there was a problem and Bill was trying to drive her out of the timber. Since I didn’t know if there was a search to join, I continued on our regular route.
The route included stopping by a stock tank to give Cricket a dipper of water. Then we headed toward the house which was about a half mile away. I looked in that direction and saw Bill driving #164 toward the corral, and her tail was angled up. From this scenario, I knew there was a complication, and Bill would assume his role as Certified Bovine Midwife and pull the calf.
Another dilemma: run ahead to assume my role as Certified Bovine Midwife Assistant, or go back and get the mini-truck so we wouldn’t have to walk back later to get it. With #164’s limp, the progress to the corral was slow. So Cricket and I jogged back to get the truck and hopefully make it to the corral in time to assist, if necessary. I’m a former competitive runner, but haven’t done any serious running for almost 20 years. That quarter mile jog showed me just how out of shape I am, despite the evening walks. Mental Post-it note to self: Pick up the walking pace!
By the time we got to the corral, Bill had pulled the calf and it was alive! But #164, by now totally exhausted from being herded over three quarters of a mile with the temperature hovering in the upper 90’s, had plopped on the ground in the squeeze chute. After much prodding by Bill, she finally struggled to her feet and limped out of the chute.
The calf was lying on the ground with its head up—a good sign. When #164 left the chute, she didn't go directly to her calf. Bill was concerned she was too stressed to be motherly yet but he wanted to be sure she claimed her calf. We let Cricket into the pen to jump-start those motherly instincts. Protective new mothers won’t tolerate Cricket being anywhere near their calves. The ploy worked. #164 shook her head, bawled “Get away from my calf, dog!” walked over to her calf, sniffed and then licked it.
Bill filled a tub of water in the pen so the new mother could rehydrate and we headed for the house. He would return later to make sure the calf got up and found the milk source. I walked into the living room just as the fourth quarter was starting. We had missed the whole third quarter. But wait…
Earlier, as we were leaving the house, I suggested to Bill that we push the RECORD button, just in case we encountered a problem. So, we didn’t really miss Tramaine Thompson’s 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown; or his 61-yard punt return that didn’t quite make it into the end zone but hit pay dirt on the next play; or Ty Zimmerman’s interception for a touchdown.
Bill named the calf, a bull, “Tramaine.” It remains to be seen whether or not this calf will juke and run like Tramaine. I hope he’s not as talented as Tramaine at finding gaps, particularly when those gaps are in fences!
Another bull calf was born this morning, a normal natural birth, and we named him “Ty.”
Fortunately, the adventure had a good outcome. But I could do without this kind of halftime entertainment!
Bill's Disclaimer: This is not what our cows normally look like, with ribs and hip bones sticking out! Due to her hip problem, #164 couldn't tolerate standing for long periods of time to graze. Consequently, she didn't fill out like other pregnant cows. The long trip from the timber to the corral on a hot evening also took a toll on her! She'll look better once she recovers from the whole ordeal.