Last night I went to the barn to tuck in the cows. Arctic air smelled like oxygen. The waning full moon slowly declared its presence, yellow glow rising over the eastern hills.
I carefully inspected Priscilla after putting her and Coco into Coco's old stall. Udder swollen, waddling figure, surely she was ready to deliver. I threw down some hay and was surprised to see some significant discharge from Coco's backside.
What? I thought she had a few days to go.
We left the girls in their stall, drinking water and munching hay.
This morning Coco was very agitated. I let Priscilla go play outside to give Coco her privacy.
Every couple of hours I went out to check. So much for all the schoolwork I had hoped to accomplish. Thank goodness the kids do their math independently.
After throwing another load of laundry into the dryer (thank you, Julie!), I went out for the 2pm check up.
Coco moaned and rolled her eyes at me. Clear goo was now bloody discharge. Grunts and arched back, raised tail, more moans, perfect little hooves poking out.
A few more rounds of contractions, standing up, lying down, standing up again, Coco labored.
Birth is an earthy, raw process. Powerful.
Finally the pushes produced a nose and tongue to go along with the cute little hooves.
I noticed that every time I neared Coco to check her out she grew extremely agitated.
Figuring that Nature had designed Coco to do her job without me, I slowly backed out of the stall and moved up to the next level where I squatted and watched through a crack in the boards.
I prayed. I asked God to send a couple of angels to help encourage Coco and give her strength to get that baby moved out.
Nose and hooves went back inside time and time again.
I really began to worry, wondering when I should intervene. Earlier in the day I had reviewed some websites offering advice on cow labor and delivery. They suggested that after 4-6 hours of labor one should consider certain methods of intervention. Since labor had only taken an hour so far, I decided to hold my ground.
Moans and grunts, up and down, finally the nose, the eyes, the forehead and ears made it past the gate. A shoulder, another one. Push and grunt, blood and goo, the limp brown object crumpled to the floor like a bag of wet laundry.
"Please, be alive! Please, be alive!" I cried out in my mind, holding my breath as I whisked away mucus from nostrils and as Coco began to furiously lick her little daughter.
A twitch and a sputter, a nice deep breath.
After 15 minutes of so, the kids ran in from the house, they brought molasses for Coco and a hot towel from the dryer for baby.
The long wobbly legs stretched and tested. The little heifer stood up to promptly fall.
Coco grew even more agitated, trying to butt anyone near her baby.
After giving her a nice long drink and a bit of grain with molasses, we left the two to bond.
At 6pm, the little gal was prancing and inspecting everything in the stall. We didn't witness her nurse. I was wishing to see that, but Coco was furious with us invading her space. We gave her more water (labor and delivery and milk production sure do make a gal thirsty) and some more hay and a little grain to restore her energy. Since the little girl looked so energetic and healthy I felt like it was safe to leave the two alone and go get some split pea and barley soup.
It is awfully cold tonight, but not as raw as last night. Coco is a good mama. We feel certain that she will do a good job taking care of her baby. Better than we could do, most likely. But we remind ourselves that newborn life is tenuous and fragile, and try to tell ourselves that anything can happen and often does, so we will be prepared if she weakens and dies.
But for now, we greet Carmelita happily. Adorable little new life, dark brown and lovely, like a nice dark cream caramel. Carmelita.
We are hoping for milk from Coco in a few days. Please, Coco! Remember I am your friend who gives you apples and carrots and sings Spanish love songs to you. I have been out of heavy cream for my coffee for days now and would LOVE to have some soon!