Dixie Classic Fair Results! Calf watch is... on going. Signs to Look for.
Updated: Oct 27, 2019
What a week!
The sheep show was AMAZING! I was anxious about not knowing where to drop the sheep off, who to check in with, where to get water from, and of course showing Carson and Aria. But as soon as I got there other sheep exhibitors were there to help! "Pick any pen you want! But if I were you, I would pick one close to the showing entrance."One person offered to help me bring them in - I load the sheep in the back of my SUV - doesn't everyone? :D
I got the sheep situated and talked to the sheep a bit and they settled in fairly quickly.
Show day everyone had tips and pointers and it turned out well! I had a volunteer 4H boy help me through the ring. Carson and Aria both won 1st place in their categories and Reserve Champion for all rams and ewes respectively. They also took 2nd place in pair of lambs of opposite sex. So 5 ribbons altogether. I had so much fun doing this! Another exhibitor came up to me afterwards and asked if I was addicted now. :)
The Dixie Classic didn't divide the wool from meat breeds officially for the show. They will start this next year, but there were 80 or more wool sheep competing another exhibitor told me. Carson and Aria were the only Romney sheep! There were beautiful Shetlands, Tunis, and Lincoln long wool all baaing in a chorus.
Walking up and seeing my sheep at the fair was a childhood dream that finally came true! I grew on a farm with a horse, goats, chickens, and a rabbit. But we never were able to have sheep. I just wanted one to lead on walks at the farm on a halter. Now I had my pair of beautiful sheep at the fair! I'm so grateful for this experience and opportunity. Mason was so much fun to watch interacting with the sheep at the fair. While fitting sheep he even stayed in the pen with Aria and fed her hay. So cute! I'm excited for the day he might be a 4H kid and showing his sheep!
OMG!!! There is so much information on signs to look for when waiting for a calf to come. And let me tell you, it's all ambiguous and at times contradictory.
I have spent the last week or more looking at Charlotte's back end and udder over and over looking for something that would say NOW is the time! I've washed all my milk equipment, but wanted to wash it again right before using it. But the navel spray is ready to go, along with a list of other things loaded in my car. Every time I see Charlotte laying in the field and mooing at me I think YES! this is it and hope the camera is charged. Yes, Charlotte has done this several times before and doesn't need my help for anything most likely, but I'm anxious to have a healthy calf and a routine established. In a few days the calf will be here and all of this looking will be over, but for now the "signs" read "it could be tomorrow or two weeks from now."
My large animal vet sent me a nice email saying "I thought I would have received baby moo pictures by now?" :) And the dairy that I bought her from, Mr. Lutz came by and said that she still looks a week or two out from calving, putting her up to three weeks past her due date. I think being able to tell when a calf is coming is nature and magic getting shaken in an 8-ball for an answer. "Maybe later" "Reply hazy, try again" "Concentrate and ask again." "Outlook good"
THE SIGNS (differing, contradictory, semi-consistent, tried and true):
Bagging up - happens up to 8 weeks before calving, unless she bags up after the calf is born if she's a heifer. Charlotte was bagging up 3-4 weeks ago and is now carrying a huge udder! It's finally large enough that it can be seen behind her back legs when standing. The teats are still wrinkly so there is no calf coming in the next 12 hours? I've been told - unless this happens within a couple hours of birth. Or not at all since she's a big girl and done this before. So not reliable.
Springing and mucus- The vulva loosens and looks swollen. I think she always looks like a dinner plate back there so hard to tell! Cows are big animals and everything else is proportionate to size. in all seriousness, she does look bigger than she did, but not a huge amount as far as I can tell. There can be a lot of mucus or a little bit. Charlotte has had small amounts of mucus the last 2 weeks or more. This week its thicker and at times has a slight tint of color, but nothing like they said would indicate the calf is coming soon. So far just looks "normal." Unless you cow has no mucus at all.
Loose Ligaments/Pins Dropping - This is the cows body getting ready for birth and making room for the calf. To know what this looks like you have to know what a pin bone actually looks like and then transfer that to your cow and what she looked like before you want to know if this is happening. Short of taking a measuring stick with me to get an idea of what her normal pin depth was (which I didn't do and wish I had thought to take this silly measurement ahead of time) not sure exactly what I'm looking for! Her tail and pins look flatter, but not flat. She's not sticking her tail straight out, just holds it to the side at times. I just need someone to come out and show me what I'm looking for. I did take pictures the other day, so after this is over I will try and show what I think its supposed to look like. Keep in mind I'm a few dairy cow owner and this is all a learning process! Sorry Charlotte, I'll catch up soon!
Lose of Appetite - Really? The cow follows me around every time I even look at the freezer thinking I'm going to give her feed - EVEN IF SHE JUST ATE. I feel this inner frustration every time she's laying down and then looks at me and has a mouthful of hay hanging out. Your supposed to having a baby... days ago. Other people say that their cow had a calf eating right up until it started and even then munched their way through it. Stress eater for sure! So they may eat or not. Or drink or not. Depending on your cow. Very helpful.
Diarrhea or Constipation - This one was very clear! I clean out the barn of Charlotte's patties everyday so its not like I'm not looking at them anyway as I scoop them into my favorite wheelbarrow. There was a day when they were looser than normal and I got excited! But nothing happened. And they were back to normal by that evening and have been since. Some farmers say their cow didn't poop the entire day before calving. Not sure how much stock I put into this sign. I'm not reading into viscosity and consistency any further.
In the end I'm happy that all is well. We have a calf in there that will eventually come out in the time it was meant to. For us mere human care takers, the fretting and analyzing is pointless. It can help to know what to look for if I am needed (or knowing when to call someone more like!) but other than that it'll happen when it happens. Praying for a healthy calf and mom to enjoy! And fresh MILK! Fingers crossed for a heifer calf!
And we did get the stanchion finished this evening! YAAY!!!!!!!!!