5 Cows A Calving?

17 Dec 2010

“Shouldn’t You Be Watching Desperate Housewives?”

Well, it was bound to happen. There was no way around it. I mean, I married a farmer, right? I just thought I’d be better at it.

One recent evening, the hubs came home after having a particularly long and hard day on the farm. He was completely and utterly shattered. So tired that he nearly fell asleep at the supper table. I felt horrible for him because I knew that his day was not over as he would still have to go out into the cold night and check on five cattle that were nearly ready to calf.

Since the cows were in a paddock that was relatively near our house, I knew that if it looked like any of the girls were about to become mommies, I could sprint back and alert Richard. If not, he could catch up on some much-needed sleep. So, I excitedly offered up my amateur farmette assistance and told him to get some rest.

He happily agreed, telling me to dress warmly and take the torch. He gave explicit directions: if it looked like A. the cow was dropping milk or another substance, B. her back pins had come down, C. she was sitting in closely to the hedge, or D. her tail was sticking straight out, I was to come back immediately and report it to him.

I put on my farm parka, wellington boots and wooly cap, grabbed the torch and went out quietly into the night. It was pitch dark and I was a bit frightened. Always a city girl at heart, I find that the total and utter darkness of the countryside, while beautiful and serene, can still feel very intimidating to me. The torchlight beckoned, but in the thick of the night it only projected about two meters of light.

After walking for several minutes, I could finally see the cows in the paddock. Their presence made me feel more secure. I began flashing the light at each of them individually, with a specific focus on their behinds. They looked at me with puzzled expressions. As if they knew that I had no idea what I was doing out there. I kept saying in a sweet, hushed voice “Hi sweeties, how are ya? How are ya doin there?” They must have thought I was mental. I swear one cow looked up, shook her head and walked away. As if to say, aren’t you missing Desperate Housewives or something?

Just as I was feeling self-conscious about being snubbed by a cow, another one walked into my ray of light and turned her back to me. I couldn’t believe my eyes, there appeared to be two little calf legs hanging out of her bottom. She also seemed to be having difficulty walking. I rubbed my eyes and looked harder. Wait a minute, was it two legs hanging out or was it just her own hind legs? I squinted and looked again, this time confirming in my mind that there was indeed something dangling from her. Either way, this was a situation that couldn’t be risked, right? I’d have to go in, wake himself up and tell him right away.

I ran back to the house, my heart beating a million miles an hour with adrenalin. I was going to see a calf being born in the dark of the night. I had been useful on the farm! I rushed into the bedroom and breathlessly told my peacefully asleep farmer the news. He asked if I was sure and I nervously replied, “I’m pretty sure!” He got up and we ventured outside.

When we arrived at the paddock, there she was, still standing.  She turned her back to us and lo and behold,




My eyes had played an awful trick on me. All of the cows were fine and would probably not calve until the morning by the looks of it. I felt ridiculous. I only wanted to help. I am sure it took all he could not to make fun of me or be angry, but he was calm and said, maybe next time you’ll know.

And, yes, I’ll make sure of that!

Slan Abhaile,


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6 Responses to “5 Cows A Calving?”

  1. Joanne says:

    I remember babysitting the neighbours who were dairy farmers. (We were beef) The husband said don’t worry about the kids. I have two cows ready to calf can you check on them every hour on the hour and as in your story if any of A, B or C was happening to call them home. Didn’t happen but always thought it was funny to get paid for looking after the cows instead of the kids!!!

  2. Jacinta says:

    That cow was messing with your head! I was convinced as a kid that my grandmother’s cows were not only frequently giving kicks but also getting their kicks making a right eejit of me. So be warned that they may look like they are daydreaming, but they’re actually scheming. Loved this story; it really brought me back. Calves birthing is really an amazing sight to behold. Good luck!

  3. Karee says:

    Oh dear! I sympathize. I look forward to hearing your tale of the actual thing!

  4. nessa robins says:

    What a lovely story! Reminds me of when I was a child, the excitement of being brought to the farm at night. I’m sure you will get to be involved in the ‘birthing’ process soon!!

  5. Nan says:

    Maybe the calf was trying to be born but retreated? I suppose it’s possible? Either that or there was too much whiskey in the punch? Loved it!

  6. Corey T says:

    It must have been the fairies playing tricks on you!

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