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Shoving it In

“We need a cooler of hot soapy water”, is generally the first directive in pulling a calf. We are frugal, and David is experienced and strong. We were going to save a 150.00$ today. A heifer in the lot tried to give birth overnight and was lying down exhausted with the baby’s head and foot on the outside. We needed to rush to try to save the heifer. The baby had a rough go due to a bent foot in the birth canal. Now, pulling on the twine the body was a square peg in a round hole.

Rushing back to the house we were able to get new blades in the carpet knife to perform the surgery. As the unpleasantness unfolded, we became focused only on saving the heifer. First, the calves' head needed to go. After having more room to maneuver in the womb, David was able to find the foot and correct the position. More soapy water. Lots of blood. A few tears.

“Get the ATV”, he shouted after a few strong and unsuccessful pulls. The heifer gave up trying and now we had to rely on horsepower. I drove gentle and slow; the headless baby slipped out. But much more came out after that which set another direction for the post birth activities. “We need to shove all that stuff back in!” seeing the uterus and numerous other organs on the outside was a new experience for me. I was familiar with prolapse, but not THIS! I hauled the calf away, filling Festus with glee, and David began the chore of putting the outsides back on the inside. It was time to call the vet.

“We got to shove all that back in!” This was not the time to correct grammar. I stretched the hole and used my knee to stabilize what was going back in, but it was like pinning Jell-O to a wall, or putting a finger in the dam that was already busted. Screaming “God HELP US!”, we punched and stretched and kneed the guts back in, David’s long arm shoved up to his armpits. Pooped, peed on and bloodied we made headway; a team we were, David lifting and forcing, gathering the parts which lay beneath the stretched uterus. And then like a vanishing nightmare, the hole closed behind the mass of flesh and we were successful. The cow was spent, and so were we.

After peeling off my second filthy outfit of the day, David called the Vet once more to give an update. “Now you got to sew her back up”, was his reply. Imagining sterilized darning needles and fishing line, I needed to have a coffee first to process the rest. He added, “Did you remember to put all of it back in in the right order?”, to which David answered, “it all came out so fast we didn’t catch the order”. As sad as all this is, we shared a “knowing” with a raised eyebrow or two. Was he suggesting we take it out and try over, perhaps using a you tube video while I guide my color-blind cowboy in “Re-stuffing a Cow After her Guts Exploded”, or, “Now you take the bumpy snake-looking thingy, right after the pink one, etc.?”

We often console each other that it’s good to be in this together; experiencing the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in the wide world of calving sport. We sometimes comment, “who would ever understand or experience what just happened?”. I can hardly wrap my head around this myself, not to mention explaining what I do to non-cattle people. Now, we get back to chores. We wait for the Vet, who has agreed to come stitch her up. David gave her a huge dose of antibiotic to fight the trauma, and she got her head up and is standing up now. I as well have my head up and although a little weak in the knees, I too am standing.

Thank you for sharing this with me. I needed to talk it out.

Feeling Blessed,

Mary Lynne

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