There has been much excitement and fussing this week at Lantanaland. No, young Cutis hasn't decided to walk a few months early, rather my dexter cow, Candy, has finally had a calf. Considering that she was due in roughly September/October, I think I was the only one who still thought she was up the duff. The problem with cow pregnancies is that they are hard to get to go to hospital and a vet call out fee would probably be more expensive than the cow so it is wait and hope and lots of both.
Still, when the result is a beautiful little girl calf like this you are not that phased about the wait. I came home on Monday and started throwing in a bit of fruit for the cows when I spotted the wobbly gait of a newborn. So cool. Indescribably cool. We all rushed down to have a look. Candy wouldn't let me get close enough to check her, but a bit later I lured her away with some food and took and educated guess about her sex.
The next morning I lured them into the milking paddock. I did all my jobs and was just getting ready when Ryno turned up for a look. A fairly happy cow but no calf was found. My heart sinking I scoured the small paddock with no luck. I couldn't believe it, 12 hours old and I'd lost her. Ryan went off down the street and I had one last look. There, through the fence where it was a bit high, in a hollow in the lantana was one sleeping calf. It turns out I know less about cows then I did about babies. Reunited with mum I left for work, now worrying that I hadn't seen her feed and what to look out for to make sure Lantanaland's first calf was ok.
Luckily I have some great mates who I have made through various mediums and they imparted all their knowledge. It was a great relief and gave me the confidence that I was going ok. Mum is going good too, becoming more protective by the day, the next big challenge is to train her up for milking.
The calf will get named by one of the herdsharers. It is run like the nba draft. The herdsharers who recieved the least amount of cheese and milk in the last year get the most chances in the draw. It then slides up to Simon and Ryan who I see every week, so they are probably the only ones I could legitimately charge the Herdshare fee to. They get one chance. The best two suggestions I have seen come from my dad who liked Faith, "because you were the only one who still had faith she was pregnant" and Sally, "Gurty, you know, yoGhurt."
In the past when something like this happened someone in your street would have cows and you would be able to lean on them. Despite my semi rural locale, no one here raises cows, a few people have them as grass eaters but not as milkers. So it was great to be able to ask questions of people through the net for some help, in particular Andrew and Maree at Silverwood Organics, two lovely people who run an organic sheep property in Western QLD who I met through work and who chipped in to the Herdshare, even though they rarely are in Brisbane. They happily took my call and questions.
My beloved twitter also came in handy, the fabulous Marian Macdonald, a dairy farmer and blogger in Victoria who increased my knowledge one hundred fold with one phone call and a series of tweets. I was also able to send her some video and photos and ask specific questions. So my farmer community might be a bit spread out, but it is still a bloody good one.