Well I got my birthday calf after all! Jet had a little bull calf last night.
All evening we kept an eye on her. The classic sign of a cow in labor is a hunched back and some painful low "moo" sounds. That didn't happen until after I'd gone to bed. But by late evening (9 pm or so) Jet was pacing around the driveway and lashing her tail. Tail lashing is a typical cow response to early labor pains. I guess that turgid udder was the right indicator after all. We knew we'd have a calf by morning.
I went to bed around 9:30, and was sound asleep when Don woke me up at 10:30. "She's in labor if you want to watch," he said.
I dressed and took a camera and flashlight. The girls woke up and joined me for a few minutes but didn't stay for the entire birth (Younger Daughter swears she's going to adopt some day). I took only a limited number of photos because I didn't want to disturb Jet too much with the flash.
Here she is, in heavy labor.
She pushed out a sac of amniotic fluid first. It burst shortly after taking this photo.
The camera wasn't focusing well in the pitch darkness, so some of these shots are blurry. Here the calf's hooves are starting to emerge.
Then she lay down right next to the corral fence to push some more.
About half-way out. The white covering is the amniotic sac.
Then Jet heaved herself to her feet for the final push.
Dropped! Jet immediately started licking her calf.
The time: 10:55 pm. Still my birthday.
I went out to check one last time. All seemed well, so I went to bed knowing I wouldn't find out the gender until morning.
This morning I found the calf standing, and I gently reached down and felt a tiny scrotum. A little bull calf. Adorable!
Of course, Jet hovers close by, anxious and protective. This is her seventh or eighth calf, and she's an excellent and experienced mom.
We'll have to come up with a name for this little fella.
It's a big wide world out there for him to explore, including meeting the chickens.
Jet kept a wary eye on me. Thankfully she's not a cow to get aggressive with a new calf, but I also knew to keep my distance. Hormones do funny things to critters.
The birthday calf is strong and curious...
...and was already making the cute little hippity-hop skips most newborns do to express health and exuberance.
Playing with mama's tail.
Altogether now: "Awwwwww....."
Older Daughter wants to call him Tarter. As in, sauce. (Don't ask me why.) I suppose it bears some similarity to "steak tartare," so I guess it works. We usually try to give our bull calves "meat" names, since that will be this little guy's fate in about two years... at which point, trust me, he'll no longer be cute.
What a nice birthday present!