Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This morning I went to get some milk at the Holstein farm. Usually I get there just at the end of milking time and have a little chat with the farmer. Although I was there at the regular time, the farmer had finished milking. After I had filled up my jugs from the bulk tank, I went to look for the farmer in the barn.
It was cold in upstate New York, so the cows were inside. I did not see the farmer but my eyes fell on a curious site. Near the entrance I saw one cow lying down. A glob was coming from it's behind. I walked towards it and soon realized that the cow was calving. Having heard a lot about possible complications during calving and noticing no movement of the calf which was half sticking out, I went to look for the farmer. I went to the house. He wasn't there, but his wife was. She mentioned he was expecting the cow to calf but had thought it wouldn't be so soon. He had gone up the hill to hunt for some deer.
We went back to the barn where the calf was almost entirely extracted from the cow. Just a quarter of it's hind legs were still inside. The farmer's wife grabbed the front legs and pulled the calf. It came out without any problem and it was soon clear that the calf and the mother were fine. She pulled the calf around the other cows toward the front of the mother. There she laid it on some hay and, what seemed like, massaged the heart a little and gave it some encouraging talk to get up. The mother, who seemed exhausted, licked the newborn and ate the umbilical cord. To the delight of the farmer's wife, the newborn was a heifer.
Writing this back in Brooklyn while making cheese from the milk of the fellow cows, I can't but help thinking while living in the city how fortunate I am, I can experience this. It makes me very happy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,

I can imagine that this was a wonderful experience and that you got a feeling of happiness and gratitude from it to have been able to witness the birth of a calf (regardless of which animal).

Since I know yor family goes back to older country side life in Holland I wonder whether it was your first time to witness such a thing. Living in a city (even if you have lived there for decades) doesn't make you a city person by definition.

I stille remember having witnessed a calf of a cow being born about 40years ago. Our house received a phone call in the middle of the night. It woke my father, mother and myself from sleep and the call came from an uncle in the village (the brother of my father). This uncle was a farmer and had cows, my much older father was not and also hated to be called out of his sleep but my uncle had a calving cow in the middle of the night. Too late and too poor to phone a vet. The problem was that the calf came out the other way around and I can still see if in front of my eye of memory. Both man (dad and uncle, both big strong and heavy man) had to use a rope to pull the calf out and when it finally did along came the umbilical cord, fluids from the wombs and loads (lots) of blood. I can slso remember the mother cow etc. the straw and so on. An impressive experience for such a young boy as I was then (about 8 or 9 years old) and my dad had first forbidden me to come along with him but I was very persistend, begged almost and he agreed if I'd promise not to stand in the way, just watch and go to school in time the morning after.

Kind regards from Holland