A Birth Day at Sunflower Farm

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather
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Guest Post By Michelle Mather

As Cam has mentioned in previous
posts, we have often had the pleasure of hosting one or more of our
neighbour Alyce’s “big pets” during our time here at Sunflower Farm.
We’ve had lots of horses and ponies spend time here and even though we
don’t ride, we’ve always enjoyed watching them and appreciated the way
that they mowed down the grass in the paddock and provided manure for
our garden too!

More recently Alyce has acquired a herd of
Highland cattle, a breed known for being very hardy and able to cope
with extreme weather conditions. These cows have a very thick, shaggy
coat and long, curved horns. A couple of Alyce’s cows are pregnant and
so we offered to turn our paddock into a “Highland cow nursery” where
the pregnant cows could graze and give birth in peace away from the rest
of the herd, and where Cam and I would be able to keep a watchful eye
on the expectant ladies.

“Betsy” arrived a couple of weeks ago but
has not given birth yet. On Thursday night Alyce and Ken arrived with
“Aggie” who has actually spent time in our paddock previously. Aggie was
abandoned by her mother and so Alyce bottlefed her and eventually
brought her here until she had grown big enough to join the rest of the
herd. Her arrival here on Thursday night wasn’t exactly “uneventful” as
Cam will describe in a future blog.

On Friday morning I headed out
to the vegetable garden at about 7 a.m. Cam and I like to get as much
of our watering and weeding done early in the morning, before the sun
and the heat and the bugs make it less enjoyable. I glanced over at
Aggie and Betsy as I headed to the garden and they were both peacefully
grazing with no sign of the excitement that was about to transpire!

Over
the next hour as I watered and weeded I noticed that Aggie seemed
restless. She would lay down and then get back up again as if she
couldn’t get comfortable. She also made some sounds that I hadn’t heard
her make before.  Just before 8 a.m. I looked up and thought that I
could see something sticking out of her back end. I went over to
investigate and she came close enough to the paddock fence that I could
see what looked like hooves coming out of her back end! YIKES!

I
ran into the house and called Alyce. She said she’d be right over so I
ran out to the garden to alert Cam. He grabbed the camera from the house
and we headed back to the paddock. Aggie appeared to be back to grazing
with her head down in the tall grass. Then we realized she wasn’t
grazing – she was licking her brand new baby all over!!! The birth had
happened that quickly!

Alyce
arrived and together we watched as Aggie licked her new baby dry.
(Betsy was also intrigued and helped Aggie with this task!) Within an
hour of birth, the little one was already attempting to stand and
successfully did so. The baby seemed to know exactly what to do next as
it kept heading towards Aggie’s udder. Aggie wasn’t so sure about that
part of motherhood and at first she kept moving away from the baby. At
last we watched the little one take her first drink and we relaxed with
the knowledge that, once again, nature provides these creatures with
such strong instincts.

Needless
to say having a baby cow in the paddock has been incredibly distracting
and I keep finding myself at the paddock fence watching as the baby cow
explores her new world. One minute the baby is prancing through the
long grass. The next time I look she’s curled up asleep as Aggie grazes
peacefully nearby.


 Photos by Cam & Michelle Mather. For more information about Cam Mather or his books, please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com

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