My evening shift at 10 pm has often turned into expeditions lasting until midnight or 1 am.  This morning it was EXTREMELY  difficult to pull myself out of bed!  After my short walk, I turn on the unstable light for the calving shed… half of the time, it turns itself back off as I walk away… and I walk through the heifers that remain.  We have blasted through 33 out of our 58 replacement heifers in a week!  I try to walk through the little pens without disturbing them, but heifers are so packed in there, it is virtually impossible.  If I see signs of calving: a kinked tail, a water bubble from the amniotic sack, or, my favorite, hooves!, then the next step is to bed a small pen down.  We use straw for bedding.  It is buried at the end of the shed, and I drag a bale down the alley and into the pen.  It is a struggle to pull the twine off the bale.  I told Vernon he has raised prettier straw in years past.  These bales aren’t light and fluffy, each flake has to be pulled apart.  Then comes the hard part, the heifer doesn’t usually want to go into the pen, and it takes force, guile, and varying amounts of patience to capture her.  She is left alone to calm down and get on with business.  We will check her every hour or so to make sure she is progressing on her own.  If she doesn’t, we will help her along by pulling the calf.  We attach a chain, much like a dog’s choke chain collar to the hooves of the calf and pull as she pushes.  Sometimes they stand. Sometimes they are lying down.  And with steady pressure the calf continues to appear.  Soon a calf lies there, shaking its head and blowing fluid out of its nose!  Mom should stand and start cleaning it off rapidly…steam rises from the warm calf.  After feeding and watering the mom, I can go to bed.  and Yawn. again.

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