Last Saturday, I had a call from my brother, Chuck, who we call, Chopper. A cow was calving on his 110-cow dairy he runs with our nephew, Jarrett Borgerding. So, he invited me and my three children over to help with the delivery.
I thought it was a great idea. First of all because my children, April, Mason and Jasper, were just lounging around the house because it was a cold day, and secondly, because they have never seen a live birth before.
We've seen the end of the life cycle with chickens, rabbits and a dog, but never the excitement of the beginning.
It was a great opportunity, so off we went to the farm, just five minutes away. We hurried over to find the cow standing outside in an openbay shed locked in the headlocks. This wasn't going to be an ordinary delivery.
My brother had everything prepared: We had soap water, an OB chain and a calf jack in case of difficulty.
After my brother washed up, I helped him double hook the chain and got the calf jack ready to go. My three kids were propped on the steel gate about 10 feet away with no idea what to expect. Neither did I. I have helped with C-section births, births that took a lot of time because a foot was caught and births where the calf born didn't make it.
I was hoping for a good outcome, but obviously had no idea.
Once Chopper was able to pull the feet out, the birth had the complete attention of the kids. Chopper had me tighten the chain on the calf jack and start applying pressure. In a matter of 15 seconds, a calf was out. A few eews and stunning looks came from my kids. There was blood, afterbirth, water and a uniquely looking white heifer calf with a black eye patch laying right behind the cow.
The calf came so easily though that it struck the curiosity of Chopper.
"That doesn't make any sense. She shouldn't have any trouble with delivering that calf. We better check if there is another one there," he said.
Right away, I nearly bounced out of my boots. Could my children be lucky enough to see twins born? I took the lead and washed up quickly because I needed to know. Sure enough the next thing I'm doing is pulling out another set of feet. By this point, I wasn't the only one excited. My kids were, too.
Much like the first birth, the second one came quite easily. We connected the chains and tugged for a short time, and another calf was laying on the ground behind the cow.
It was a spitting image of the first calf a heifer with a predominantly white body but with two black eye patches. Both calves were good size and needed names. Although Jasper wanted to call one, Blood, that name was vetoed. The three first-time viewers chose Cookies and Cream and Spots.
Once we finished the deliveries, we wiped the calves down, cleaned out their mouths and put them in front of the cow. Chopper and I decided we would milk the cow by hand quick so we could pasteurize the milk and then let the cow clean off the twins.
We needed a volunteer to hold the tail that was wet with many different fluids. April and Jasper both quickly said no way, but Mason said sure.
It took us about five minutes and we were done. We turned the cow loose to be with its calf, and a short time later we went home.
I let the whole process settle with the kids and brought up the event with Mason right before he went to bed. I asked him what he thought and he said it was a great day because he got to see a live birth for the first time in his life.
Jasper and April both said it was kind of gross. Even a couple days after the event, Jasper keeps talking about the blood and two calves.
It wasn't exactly what I wanted him to remember about this special experience, but I was very grateful they got to be part of it.