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Life and death

April 11, 2011
Red Poll calf - "Wassledine Fennel"

Red Poll calf - "Wassledine Fennel"

Things were a bit on the low side during the latter stages of the winter and in March, Copper, a cow that we’d been nursing since October had a final visit from our vet, Caroline. Having tested negative for a whole range of conditions, we were hoping she might somehow recover. This was not to be and Caroline, quite rightly suggested we, or rather she, had reached the end of the road.

After months of worry, watching and talking; not to mention expense; we were surprised to feel relief as her carcase was taken away by the most charming and jovial pair of  knacker men one could hope to meet.

We await full post mortem results, but initial findings reveal damage to her rumen caused by items unknown – confirming that we had made the right decision to have her killed. She wouldn’t have recovered.
 
On a far more positive note, calves have started arriving; the first, just twenty four hours after Copper’s departure. This was a beautiful heifer which has acquired the name “Fennel” continuing her mother, Ginger’s spicy line.
 
On Thursday, this week, I was due in Surrey and dropped in to check cattle at about 8am, before leaving. Pepper was looking suspicious so I hung on and followed her around as she kept close to her mother, Ginger, showing extremely maternal attachment to her half sister, Fennel.
 
Within an hour, a pair of tiny white hooves were visible (always a good sign) and as soon as a nose, mouth and tongue appeared, I was able, thankfully, to stop worrying about a breach presentation.
 
Pepper with very new bull calf - almost certain to be called Salt

Pepper with very new bull calf - almost certain to be called Salt

Experience is so beneficial. The first time I saw a calf’s tongue stretched out of its mouth as its head very slowly appeared, was very alarming. There’s an animal that looks dead.  However, from this point in, it’s usually very quick and the appearance of a perfect new life is miraculous. A heap of soaking, red-brown folded skin , a jumble of legs, head with lolling tongue and bulging eyes, becomes within ten minutes, a fully operative calf; staggering but actively searching for its first meal.

 
I made it to Guildford with eight minutes to spare. Five more calves to come and they could be any time.
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