It had not been a quiet day at Cusgarne Organic Farm. Teresa and Veryan finished labelling produce by 8pm. I did my now nightly duty, topping up the biomas wood boiler, which heats the water supplying our and the other houses here. We had supper and Veryan finally was about to go to her house and I remembered that I had not checked the cows and calves. I was relieved when she cheerfully agreed to look at them.
Ten minutes or so later the phone rang. Teresa answered and called to me. ‘’There is a young cow with two legs sticking out the back of it!’’ How young’’ I called.
‘’You’d better speak to her’’. It was one of our younger heifers. Oh no, I thought. It was 10pm but not raining for a change. I went up to the top of the farm and assessed the situation and decided to bring the expectant animal into the barn. I asked Veryan to coax her across the three fields in the dark with Tilly–dog as assistant [possible first mistake]. I went back down to fetch reinforcements [Teresa]. We drove up the hill again and got the call.
We found a shaken Veryan duly up said tree and the heifer was nearby with two legs and a tongue still sticking out. The bull looked unrepentant. Veryan and I proceeded to drive the animal into the next field. Teresa [the ex- midwife] went back round by the road and arrived outside the top field. When she arrived the heifer was lying down and was contracting every 5 minutes or so, eventually and after a contraction, we saw the head appear. I slipped back into the shadows (we were holding a torch so that we could watch progress).
I crawled unnoticed to help pull the calf out but it was probably not necessary as the calf was born with little help from me. I cleaned the nose and mouth out and the calf started breathing. The cow got up, looked at the calf and ran off.
Teresa brought the pick–up into the field and we all chased after traumatized animal. I held on to the slimy, wet calf sitting on the tail gate. Teresa stopped so abruptly beside an animal that I fell out the back with the struggling ‘orphan’ falling on top of me and she then drove off without us, having decided that it was the wrong cow. Veryan set off into the next field and soon sent me a coded message with her torch. I replied with a similar message (we are undoubtedly descended from smugglers).
Teresa returned to pick up myself and the confused calf, who was now standing shakily beside me. We drove off to find Veryan and the teenage mum. I carried her emotionally scarred baby, placing the calf in front of her for inspection and to our delight she made the low cooing noise of all good mums and started licking her calf. She then spoiled her new found respectable image and kicked her calf twice. There was nothing more we could do. It was 11.30pm and we had done a good, team job.
In the morning, we found the little angus to be the perfect dam and the calf had sucked and her little udder seemed pretty empty.