Failed Farmer

The beginning of October is usually a fun one!  Its time to think about winter, prepare for it (or lack of), and some early anticipated babies to arrive.  This story is painful because I feel like as a farmer I failed.  I failed because we lost a calf...and not just one but two.
     Tyra, the chi heifer, 312B was due to calve at the end of October but decided she wanted to do it Friday.  I usually check the cows before I start my morning errands but for some reason that morning I didn't.  I came home to a cow laying on her side, restless, upon closer inspection in labor.  I rushed everyone into high gear, we got her up and to the barn.  I then realized, once we got her calmed down, a tail was hanging out.  BAD NEWS. BAD. BAD. BAD.  I have little experience with pulling and re-position calves inside the mother but I knew it had to be done.  I checked while she stood in the barn and got Brandon (my boyfriend) to call a vet.  I felt the butt of the calf and could tell it was small and it being nearly three weeks early that is expected.  Our vet didn't answer, neither did the next one, or the one after that.  By that time we were walking her up to the chute where we could work on getting the calf positioned better for the birth.  We kept calling and eventually pulled up the TN Department of Agriculture list of veterinarians in the state.  I bet we called 15 vets before we got one who said it would be a couple hours.  We got her in the chute and I gloved up.  My sister came down with the lube and her camera.  I went inside of her and felt the rear end and her pushing against me.  We finally got a vet on his way, 30 minutes and he'd be there.  No lie when I felt how bad the calf was positioned, I cried and yelled because I had failed as a farmer.  That 30 minutes was the longest ever.  Brandon was holding the calf in the whole time, so the cow wouldn't pinch any nerves and get paralysis or hurt herself and the calf.  He had never put a hand inside a cow let alone try to re-position one, but as farmers we do what needs to be done.  When the vet got there, my sister ran to get him to the cow quicker.  He had the calf positioned in less than 15 minutes. He said it was all about physics....guess what I will be doing, learning cow physics.  Dan (the vet) and Brandon got the calf out only to see Dan re-glove and go back in for the SECOND calf.  Holy cow!  The second calf was belly first, trying to come sideways!  Brandon and Dan got the second one out and he went in again...this time not for a calf!  Dan needed to make sure she didn't tear anything important and to double check for more anticipated babies. 
        Both those calves were born dead. My heart aches. Dan said the first one had been dead a while but the second died because the first one wouldn't get his tush out of the way.  "Cows that have a calf breached don't show labor signs till it is too late" Dan Cummings

We as farmers and ranchers want live, healthy babies. We want everything to go as planned.  We live on a working operation and unfortunately things happen.  We had to dig a grave for two babies, we had to watch a mother lick her twins.  It isn't pretty but it's life.  Someone once told me to not show what bad happens on our operation, like death or illness. 
Getting baby #1 the heifer, second one was a bull

I tried to feed her to keep her mind off of it....we have the calves out now 


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