Thursday, March 6, 2014

Sad News

        Calving season is ramping up here on the farm with about 20 calves on the ground. The big push is yet to come with 100 cows yet to calve this spring. With calving season there is a lot of excitement and fun seeing all the new life that arrives daily. But calving season can also come with heartache when special one's are lost.
       My daughter Mary has been waiting for one of her special heifers, Snowflake, to have her first calf. Snowflake is the first calf of Mary's favorite cow Snowball. 2 years ago when Snowflake was born Mary was overjoyed to see that she had two white spots on her forehead which made her special and different from all the other all black calves. Later that summer Mary took Snowball and Snowflake to the county fair and showed them in Cloverbuds 4-H. 
Mary and Snowflake just days after she was born 2 yrs ago
      Anticipating that Snowflake was getting ready to have her calf we had her along with about 30 other close to calving cows in the calving barn. We have video and sound surveillance set up in the barn so we can watch what is going on out there from the house. The calving barn has a nice dry area with clean bedding for the cows and protection from the wind.  There is also an outside yard for them to walk in a get water and feed.
Mary showing Snowflake at the county fair 2 years ago

        Two nights ago we started getting snow which totaled 8 inches by the time it was done. Before heading in for the night we checked the cows and everything looked fine.  During the night Snowflake started having her calf and she did a wonderful job and had a beautiful heifer calf all on her own. The only problem is she had the calf just outside the barn door in a snow drift.You would have thought that she would have had the calf in the barn in the warm bedding.  First calf heifers are known not to be the smartest mothers because they have never been through having a baby before. By the time we got out there the calf was so cold and only barely alive.  We rushed her into the house and placed her in a large sink with warm water and put warm milk in her stomach.  Both the calf and us fought hard but it wasn't enough and the calf died. 
       When we told Mary about this at breakfast she was very sad. She had been anticipating the new calf.  She also understands that life on the farm is full of life and death.  She knows that life is a precious thing and we fight hard for it, but there are times where death is also part of that life journey. On the farm we are working with animals and they make unwise decisions and get ill or injured. As the caretakers of the animals we try to help them or make them well again but there are times where we are unable to do this and they die. 
        We also assured Mary that even though Snowflakes calf died she will still have a calf to take care of though the summer. Mary knows that the purpose of a cow in a beef herd is to raise a calf through the summer. Snowflake is "adopting" a calf from a old cow in our herd who we have decided is too old to go out to pasture this year. This cow happened to have her calf just hours after Snowflakes calf died. The calf was given to Snowflake and she had already claimed it as her own and will be a good mother to this calf.
        Life on the farm is full of ups and downs but the ups do outnumber the downs. I also feel that these ups and downs are life lessons that are crucial for us to learn and put life in perspective. Life is a precious and fragile thing.   


  1. I just found your blog and I must say I am loving your honesty about EVERYTHING that happens on the farm. Sometimes it is difficult to share the hard times along with the good, especially when we are struggling with it, too. I would like to invite you to participate in the weekly Country Fair Blog Party that I help co-host with some friends. All ag posts, recipes and DIY projects are welcome!

  2. Thank you so much for your intrest and support of my blog. I have placed this post along with another on your party.

  3. Yes, I agree with KFM, great blog post, with all the wonderful things calving brings, unfortunately it brings a few life lessons as well. Great post, looking forward to reading more! Glad you linked up to the County Fair Blog Party, that's how I found you. :)

  4. Found your post from the blog party and it's wonderful! Your daughter understanding farm life is a valuable lesson! It's always hard to lose an animal, but knowing your family did everything you could helps soften the blow.

    I also really liked that you closed with some great ag facts!