Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cows, cows, and more cows

Being from the suburbs, I never really had all that much interaction with livestock. Enough so that I'm not completely stupid when it comes to them, but really, not much more than the rare horseback ride and hearing friends or friends of friends talk about their cows/horses/sheep, etc.
Tasmania, though, is very rural. The nearest city I'm by is about thirty minutes away and not all that big a city by American standards.
My in-laws have chickens and ducks for eggs and amusement, as well as two horses. They also have a very very friendly and lovely neighbor who is a dairy farmer. He was keeping a few cattle on the in-laws land for a bit to eat down their grass (cheaper than mowing it all), and sometimes comes over to ask for help if one of his cows is having trouble giving birth.
In the past three days, I have helped to separate the cows who are about to give birth, and also witnessed the birth of twin heifers.
Something I'm told is very rare.
The cow was having some trouble giving birth on her own, so we helped him heard her into a small paddock by herself, while he got a bucket of warm soapy water. To clean his hands while he reached his arm past his elbow into the cow to feel for the calf. He then announced why she was having so much trouble.
So, with the help of more soapy water, some rope, and my mother-in-law, he got the two calves out within two hours. While I stood back in awe snapping photos. Then, to help the little things avoid toppling through barbed wire and into the creek while they learned to walk, my mother-in-law and I, along with the farmer, hefted the two little (they weigh a LOT heavier than they look) calves to a different, sheltered, part of the paddock.
All this on a day I'd decided to wear my best jeans (I've only got three pair at the moment, two of them rather dingy) and a nice sweater because we were supposed to go into the town to do some grocery shopping.
This was so much more fun.

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