Happy Birthday to my mother, who would have turned 80 today. She loved animals and kept one of each like a little petting zoo at our "farm" in rural Connecticut. We kids learned many life lessons from the resident animals- if you are a cute, little chicken, do not stand under the garage door or you will get squished; if you are a cute little duck, a mother hen may take you under her wing and you will grow up wondering why you waddle and do not strut; if you are a blind, old gander still running into things at full force with your beak and biting them, you can regain consciousness by vigorously shaking your head; a way to see if an animal is dead is to poke them really hard and see if they respond; if a 14.2 hand Quarter Horse wants to visit her boyfriend across the street, she is more powerful than a GMC van driving 35 MPH; if a 40 pound Springer Spaniel wants to visit his girlfriend across the street, he is not more powerful than a sedan; ducks can pair off male/female or male/male, female/female; and of course, there is not room enough for 2 males among the females... so off to the you-know-where with the ill-fates rams, bulls, cocks and ganders.
My first exposure to birth was (I believe) around the time this photo was taken and I was about 7 or so. Mother Heifer was pregnant and was going to give birth to her baby in the stall- i.e. in the garage turned "barn" housing two stalls padded with straw. I must have seen the scene a few times because I remember quite distinctly that when the cows were in labor they were so active. Normally the cows were very calm and moved very slowly but when in labor would pace and make sudden movements that they never made otherwise. After some time, calf's front hoofs would emerge and she Heifer would bellow - probably wondering what the heck is happening to her privates. You wish there was a Doula-Cow to reassure her, but no such luck! Slowly, very slowly the hoofs would emerge and mother cow would either be laying down on the ground or try to rise suddenly in the middle of the calf emerging, which didn't seem like a great idea, because I remember the calf emerging in one the sudden movements and squishing to the ground in a gelatinous, bloody sac - eek. Calf would start moving quite quickly making its way out the sac, mom would lick sac off baby, and then within no time at all, calf would attempt to stand on those little matchstick legs, wobbly, resisting gravity only by its attachment to its mother's teat. That is how I remember it - quite a site for a 7 year old but I wonder if that is played a part in being a birthworker in my adult life.
So Happy Birthday Granny Bunny- we think of you all the time and remember all the animal husbandry adventures you took us on while at Meeker Hill. Much love to you in heaven where surely you are seeing many baby animals be born since you forever possess a childlike curiosity and love for animals.
This video shows it pretty much exactly as I remember - adding one detail I must not have noticed, which was the Heifer virtually leaps up (or whips around) immediately after giving birth because she wants to check on the calf and start licking the sac off. So much for not tugging at the placenta! It just comes flying right out- not sure if this always works out for the heifer but I realized watching this that... they don't wait for it to expel. Their movements just remove it quickly. Watch only if you are Not squeamish!