My sister Elaine is away on holiday with her family, so I was the sole photographer for March’s installment of our farm project. Wow, did I get more than I bargained for! Saturday started out innocently enough… my brother Gordie phoned to let me know that one of his cows was calving so I drove over to his farm to await the newborn. While we were waiting, he fed one of a set of twin calves a bottle of milk to supplement it’s diet. He sometimes needs to do that because the mom doesn’t have enough milk for both.
Since labour looked to be a while, I decided to head over to my brother Warren’s place to watch him getting a batch of his cattle ready to go out to pasture. I have to say, it wasn’t the most pleasant of things to watch. But his oldest son was working alongside him, learning by watching and helping where he could. It was neat to see him and his dad together. If Ian decides to farm when he grows up, he will be the fourth generation of our family to farm in the area (my grandparents immigrated to Canada in the late 1800′s and early 1900′s).
Late afternoon, my brother Gordie called to tell me that because labour was going on too long, he had twice tried to assist the cow, but it hadn’t worked. He had decided that she needed a c-section and invited me to come along to watch the vet in action. While slightly freaked out about what I was going to see, I decided I couldn’t pass up the chance. So we drove several miles to the nearest vet (located in Notre Dame de Lourdes).
Unfortunately, the c-section did not go well. The cow was unable to stand through the length of the procedure, which ultimately complicated things quite a bit. The calf was quite large and therefore difficult to pull out (sadly it didn’t make it out alive). Stitching the cow up took quite a while and the vet let Gordie know that her prognosis wasn’t good. Due to the cow laying down partway through, the uterus ended up coming in contact with the floor, which increases the chance of infection. However, the cow was able to walk out to the trailer and stand the whole way home, and as of this morning, was doing well and eating. The vet on call was named Carly and she was fantastic. Despite the c-section not going according to plan, she stayed calm throughout and showed a lot of strength.
All in all, this was a tough weekend to witness from behind the camera and I’m left feeling a bit bothered. Ultimately though, it seems this is what cattle farming is all about — the tasks you like and the tasks you don’t, the decisions you have to make based on past experience, the nurturing of newborns and as my brother Gordie says, the acceptance that “just because something is born, doesn’t mean it is born alive.”