A Watched Udder
We are currently on udder watch. Three weeks after we finished lambing and 2 weeks after we were told she was due, Petunia has finally started showing signs that a calf is on its way.
I have to say that I am not sure there has ever been a back end of a cow that has been under so much scrutiny. At least once, if not twice a day, Kevin or I would spend a good 10 minutes examining her udders, trying to determine if any perceived change in udder meant we were hitting "go time". We had lengthy conversations about it. Brought out cattle farming friends. Posted on the internet.
In the normal way of things, you have a general idea of due dates for your animals. With sheep and goats, you make a note of when the boy was put in with them and work back from there. Cows would be the same, or if you used AI, you would have a set date. The way Petunia came to us, a reject from the industrial milk industry, we weren't exact on dates. She didn't like the automatic milkers that are used in most parlours around here and had been sent out to pasture rather than be in the regimented system of breeding and milking that governs most dairy cows. She came to us after having been moved from pillar to post and back again, pregnant (we hoped) but without the exact dates of when tiny hooves would hit the pavement.
We were told to watch for a calf in June, which of course meant we started watching from May...and nothing. So we kept watching and waiting and hoping. We spent so much time watching that we sort of forgot what we were watching for.
So when she did start "bagging up" we were hit with the blind panic that accompanies most of our less than thought through endeavours - HOLY SMOKES we are going to have a calf! And we will need to milk Petunia!! If you need me, I will be buried under a pile of cow keeping and cheesemaking books.