Everything I needed to know about having a baby, I learned from my rancher.

A long time ago (well, 11 years ago) I was a newly pregnant mother to be.  I was excited, scared, and reading everything I could learn about expecting.  Then there was my rancher. He was happy, carefree and an expert on expecting and birthing  -just ask him.  Then be prepared to learn all about expecting and birthing … A calf, which in his mind transferred to a child.

Needless to say, I didn’t quite see the even exchange of the process.

Our first doctor appointment, I had butterflies, a list of questions, and ready to learn everything I could know. My rancher went in ready to talk to the doctor too, success!

We went through the normal first pregnancy questions, tests, and everything to be ready for the doctor. Then the doctor came in. Almost every thought, question and concern I had prepared vanished from my mind.  Thankfully I had written them down.  The doctor started talking and I listened intently, I looked at my rancher, expecting to see his rapt attention and excitement.  However, I saw his mind turning, questions ready to spill out.  My heart was bursting because he had so many questions. When the doctor asked if we had any questions, I eagerly let my rancher talk. Then my education started.

My rancher – “so Dr R, I’m pretty knowledgable about these things, I have 800 calves every year, about 150 of them are first time mom’s.  

My mouth dropped open and then Doctor R was ready to answer back. Good, he will correct him.

Doctor R – that’s good you feel prepared, it’s amazing how similar the pregnancy will be.  Here I was listening intently for his corrections of my rancher and the corrections came to me.  

The pregnancy will be different time wise and you will have to come once a month to the office but she can keep doing normal activities. (Which I had already known, but this seemed to become an irritation rather than a reassurance.)

Dr. R and my rancher preceded to discuss calving and birthing and I sat there in disbelief.  By the time they were done visiting, Dr R had spent 4 min talking to me and 25 talking to my rancher, my list lay on the seat beside me, forgotten until Dr R shook my ranchers hand, congratulated me and walked out the door.

As we left Dr R’s office, my rancher couldn’t figure out why I was so quiet.  He was happy as could be (did I mention I was 2 months pregnant and hormonal?)  Yep, I did what every good wife would do, the silent treatment.

Just like every other hormonal pregnant woman, I calmed down eventually and soon it was checkup time.

When we went to Dr R’s the next month, I was prepared. This was a baby not a calf, but you guessed it, the appointment followed the previous line.  By the 6th month appointment, I gave up and started to listen.  I learned everything I needed to know from my rancher.

Water and feed were essential for the growth of the calf (follow along and insert baby as applicable). 

Check on her a few times a month to make sure she’s getting bigger and seems healthy.  

When the time comes closer, move her to the calving lot so you can check on her more often.  Then

 I learned so much about the calving, err birthing.  

Always feed the “heifer at night, she shouldn’t calve til morning” 
The ultrasound will allow you to see the calf, and possibly if it’s a heifer or bull calf.

Watch for the calf getting farther down the pelvic area.

Once you see the water sack, keep alittle closer eye on her because if she hasn’t calved in a couple hours, you need to take her to the calving shed.

The heifer isn’t progressing so it’s time to hook up the ob chains (called the same for both instances) and to pull the calf.

When baby calf comes, have some straw to tickle the nose just in case.

And make sure to let Mom and calf bond quietly.

So, when you insert mom and baby, yes, it’s true. Everything I needed to know about having a baby, I learned from my rancher.

About jandbbergin

I am a mother of 3 boys and along with my husband, we run a ranch/feedlot in rural Montana.
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