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New (bovine) baby!!! Spoiler: slightly sad.

February 7, 2010

Yesterday while my roommate and I were romping around in the snowdrifts that are Northern Virginia, my rancher father was romping around a field under a very different set of circumstances…

Sweet beginnings

A new baby on the ranch!

This new baby, whom my parents have yet to christen (they keep going back and forth between Lightning for the bolt across his forehead, and Blaze for the stripe down his side), was born less than 24 hours ago. The story’s actually a bit sad, but unfortunately not all that uncommon among cattle…

His mama, Newbie, was just a young gal herself – she turned 2 in January – and little Lightning/Blaze was a pretty big calf, so this was a hard labor for her. Due to a complication called prolapse, the baby came just fine but the mama still hasn’t been able to stand up yet. It’s really sad when this happens, because my parents can’t really do anything to ease her suffering. You can’t really hold a mama cow’s hoof and say “It’ll be alright, honey.” I mean, you could…and my mother probably has…but she wouldn’t really understand. They called the vet (yes, they have vets for cows) out to take a look and he told them not to write her off, she might make it, but it’s still really stressful that the mama hasn’t been able to bounce back. We’re still hoping she does.

Anyways, on to the more happy part of the story, the baby! When my dad found them yesterday, the wee one hadn’t been able to eat anything (the mechanics of a calf nursing while mama’s laying on the ground don’t really work out), so the vet had to … uh … drench feed him, which I won’t describe here. The little one tried to stand up, but just couldn’t get his legs all going the same direction at the same time (a common problem with hours-old calves – they’re hilariously gangly).

This morning, though, Mom and Dad took the little mini-pickup (it’s like a four-wheeler but bigger with a bench seat and a back end that you can lift up like a dumptruck) out to check on him and his mama, and the baby wasn’t standing. Dad picked him up (~75 lbs of calf in these pictures), put him in the bed of the minitruck and Mom got in back with him. They took him up to the house and tried to manually feed him with a bottle.

Calves who are born to traumatizing events (and having a mama who can’t stand up definitely qualifies as traumatic) tend to have difficulty figuring out the whole eating thing. It took a little bit of persuasion, but eventually they got him to associate the bottle with his mouth. Once the little guy figured out that milk was for drinking, hoooo boy! He was up and exploring in no time.

The cutest part? He now things my mother is HIS mother. He follows her around the yard, he moos in her general direction, and he frets when she’s inside the house. ADORABLE!!! Which also means that there’s no way they can give the baby away now…nope. Now they just have to move to the ranch full-time for the next 4 months til he’s old enough to be weaned.

My replacement.

But I mean really…how could you turn that little face down?! I can’t wait to go home in March and meet him!

Congratulations, Live Oak Ranch, and welcome to the newest member of the herd!

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2010 2:19 pm

    Awwww! What a bittersweet story! That’s so cute about the calf following your mom around. It’s kind of like you have a baby sister now! (jk)

    And so sad about the mama – I really hope she bounces back.

  2. emily permalink
    February 7, 2010 4:08 pm

    I can’t wait to get the kids up there to meet the new addition! He will definately have a great mom! When are you coming down here?

  3. February 8, 2010 12:38 am

    I teared up…seriously.

    • lisam permalink
      February 8, 2010 12:37 pm

      Awwww – I’m sorry for making you tear up!!!

  4. Lisa's Dad permalink
    February 8, 2010 12:33 pm

    Lightning is his name. So named for the way he tried and I stress TRIED to run after his new mom. He is so smart, only 48 hours old and knows his first word, Maaaaaa Maaaaaaa – ok, it’s cuter when he “moos” it than it is when I write it. He drinks a quart of milk at 6 am and 6 pm and other than that he is moving quite nicely. Our dog, Bear thinks Lightning is for eating, so we have them separated for now. Once Lightning grows a little more, my money is on him as he is already larger than Bear, just not sure of those legs yet.

    • lisam permalink
      February 8, 2010 12:37 pm

      There you go, people – update from the rancher’s mouth. 🙂 Thanks for posting, Dad!

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