A Lengthy Sunday

Some days have a way of lingering on while I do odds and ends, but other days charge forward so fast I wonder where the hours go.

This is especially true when I’m doing morning or evening calf chores solo. The hours go so fast sometimes I can hardly keep up! It doesn’t seem like feeding and watering calves should take that long, but when you add the calf hutches with the older pens of calves, the small steers, the heifers in the pasture, and a few tasks in the main barn … Well, things add up.

Then put a few new baby calves and any setback into the mix, and it’s a recipe for a late night.

This past Saturday we went to a friend’s wedding, and that meant schedule shuffling.

Congratulations to the lovely couple! We so enjoyed your beautiful outdoor ceremony and unique touches. Catching up with many friends and dancing to the dueling pianos made for a fabulous evening.

I worked most of Saturday before we left, and then I knew it would be just me on Sunday afternoon. When we arrived back at the farm Sunday they’d already had four heifers born throughout the morning.

I secretly hoped this meant no more calves for the day, but I had my doubts.

The evening went a little too smooth, and as I was washing up bottles about 7:30 I noticed water was starting to build up around the main floor drain.

We added on a separate room for the calf pasteurizer, washing, and storage a few years ago, and the floor drain all gets pumped through a small pump with a float to the main barn drain.

Sometimes a small object (dirt, straw, etc) gets lodged just so in the pump, and it quits.

I went in search of a screw driver, pulled the pump up, and starting flushing it with water. I pried at the pump bottom, and I just couldn’t get it to budge. Usually I can fix this in a matter of minutes, but I think it was almost half hour before I got out the wedged rock, the size of a mere marble, and had water draining. At this point JR had finished what he was working on, and I told him I’d gotten the drain working and I’d be done soon too.

I checked in one last time with the milkers and knew that wouldn’t hold true. They told me there was another new calf in back. I drove to the maternity pens with the gator and found a small, spotty bull calf. As I gathered him up I noticed yet another mother calving. She had two big feet and a thick nose coming through the birth canal, and she looked exhausted. She needed help. We check for enough space and normal positioning when we see a cow with labor beginning, but sometimes a cow needs help even with normal front feet first.

I moved the first calf and then brought the stainless steel obstetrical chains back to the maternity pen, which I double wrapped around each front baby hoof. I attached the handles to the chains and began to pull as the mama pushed. By the time one of our milkers came back to help me I’d just delivered a large black bull calf.

I brought this second calf to a hutch next to the first, and I was pleased they both easily sucked down two bottles of colostrum.

By then it was after 10:00, and as I went to put away the gator I saw Calvin patiently waiting there for me. He’s not used to nights this late either, and he wanted to make sure he wouldn’t get left behind!

Here are our two late night arrivals; pictured at two days old.



On this Sunday night it was good I had to stick around to fix the floor drain; which meant I was also around to care for these two calves. I guess I don’t even mind late night too much as long as they’re not everyday. 🙂

I also got to take in the beautiful moon.



Hope you’ve all had a great start to your week!

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Agriculture ( in general), Baby Calf Care and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Lengthy Sunday

  1. Emma Hurley says:

    Hi Lisa! My name is Emma. I am a student at UVM majoring in Animal Science. I’ve been working on the UVM dairy farm for the last year and a half, and am very interested in the dairy industry. I’m wondering how many milkers you have on your farm? I am also curious as to what you feed your cows and how they are kept (what kind of living quarters, bedding, enrichment, etc exists on your farm). It seems like you care a lot about your animals…What are some of your goals in regards to your cows’ health and lifestyle?

    • Lisa says:

      Hi Emma, thanks for stopping by. We house our adult cows in free stall or compost barns, and calves start in hutches and then move to barns and outdoor pasture or lots.

      We definitely aim to keep our animals as well cared for and healthy/happy as possible. When health problems do come up we treat appropriately on a case by case basis, and in conjunction with our vet if needed.

      In the “baby calf care” and “cows” categories on my blog you’ll find lots more details and stories, but you can also ask questions if you have more.

      Best wishes in school and working on your Animal Science degree!

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