September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Ballad of a first-calf heifer

By Jacqui Davison- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

I arrived back at my home farm a few months ago. The ride wasn't bad, but my travel mates sure did complain, wiggle around and squish me a little too much. My new place of residence could certainly use an upgrade. I would first start with a roof, definitely a roof. The whole eating whenever I want thing was pretty amazing, but trying to concentrate on eating when the wind is blowing and it's snowing is rather difficult. I just told myself I was 2 years old now and I needed to toughen up a bit. After all, I do have this nice thick coat of hair, right?
One day, the guy that comes with that miserably loud contraption (that I have grown to love; it brings my meals) flipped this lever and boom - my friends and I went up to eat and couldn't leave. As we stood there munching away, sure enough we discovered the reasons for our sudden capture. 'Moving day' the old girls call it. I wasn't quite sure what all that business was being one of the new girls, and having known now what I didn't know then, let me tell you, those pricks are worth it. This girl and a guy (speaking a language I definitely don't understand) walk along by our heads and color us. Yes, they put all sorts of marks on our heads, like we are heifers ready for battle with our war paint on. Then as she speeds along, the girl reaches her arm through by my head and pokes me with a needle. Not once, but twice. She was mumbling something about it being for my own good and for my baby. Ha. All I could think was, "Wait til I get out honey, and I'll give you something for your own good."
Then, in an instant, freedom. Some of my gal pals and I were shooed out of the gate and into the open snow. I had a brief moment of overwhelming glee, and then realized I would miss some of my new friends if I really took off, so I filed nicely into the dry pen. This turned out to be a move up in the world, like a first class upgrade after being in coach. I was surrounded by some older, wiser cows and could finally get some answers to my burning questions. The first one being, "Are those pokes really good for me?" (The wise ones say yes, emphatically.) Though I will say that some of those old girls could benefit from a stay down where I just came from. Walking the hill may possibly tone them up in some places. I won't judge too harshly though, I know how awesome the buffet is here and that might be me in four years. It was awfully nice and cozy in that pen, if I played my cards just right I could sneak in an empty stall between two of the biggest brutes and be nice and toasty warm.
One day, while we were playing follow the leader around the pen (the older girls don't like this, but it kept my friends and I busy while we waited for breakfast), I heard that now familiar bang after the machine came with our food. I was hesitant to go up to eat, figuring I might be stuck there for a while, but really, is there a better place to be stuck? I followed my stomach's orders and there I was - locked up. Seriously? More war paint? This chick really likes to draw on us heifers. She even had the audacity to squirt something up my nose, claiming it was so I didn't get sick. Let's hope she was right, because that was ridiculous. Now, some of the ladies and I are moving again, this time, just to the other side of the barn. The wise ones told me this would happen as my day grew closer. I'm still not sure what to make of that comment.
They call this pen Transition, and these guys think they are sneaky as they walk through here a million times a day. Sometimes the gates rattle and clang and out goes one of my new friends. Where do they go? They never seem to return, and I can hear loud bellows. I've asked some of the girls my age about it, but they don't seem to know. I had breakfast next to 3643, also known as The Boss, and politely asked her between bites. She said when my time comes they will take me to the straw and there I will become a mother, starting my life's work as a milk cow. It sounds like a nice experience, we shall see though. I've been hearing bits and pieces of labor stories in here. They aren't all perfectly easy.
I think my day has come. I woke up this morning feeling weird. Oh man, that guy is wondering around the pen again, gates are banging, he's coming back in here to take ... me. I cooperate, focusing on the straw bedding awaiting me. Well, this is something. I have the pen to myself and it's nice and fluffy in here. I quickly head out and sneak a snack before this birthing show gets going, then go lay down and make a futile attempt to get comfortable. These contractions make me a bit agitated, and I can't help but get up and down for what feels like a million times. I'm starting to wish this wasn't my goal in life, and am considering finding the guy that did this to me and asking for a refund. Can't I just be like 4753? Just eat-eat-eat and never worry about this milking business? Oh, wait, I vaguely remember overhearing the wise ones whispering something about a freezer and soon for her.
OK, OK, I'll have this baby - if those girls would just get their arms out of me and quit trying to reverse nature. I must breathe, I must breathe, I must push, yet those girls are telling me not to push. Are they nuts? I try really hard not to, because the arm shoved in there is not pleasant. Then, at long last, the pushing becomes easier. The girls are elated, and frankly so am I, they must have freed the other leg. Now I can do it, and ta-da, a nice bull calf. Pretty good work for a young mom.[[In-content Ad]]


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