Mud won’t stop Baby from giving birth to a new calf

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Eric Keller and his cow Baby
Eric Keller prepares for his cow Baby to give birth during the muddiest and wettest time of the year. (Eric Keller photo)

I could hardly feel my toes, despite being wrapped in two pairs of wool socks. The Muck boots were uninsulated and didn’t do me much good, except for keeping my pants clean.

As I began walking back to the pasture, I could hear the slurping sound that the mud made as it tried to suck my foot deeper.  Deeper and deeper my foot sank as I found my seat. First, it was my feet, then my chair.

Because there was so much mud, we were taking extra precautions with Baby, our cow. We’ve heard horror stories of calves being born into the mud and dying and we weren’t going to let that happen.

But winter in northeast Ohio produces a lot of mud in our pasture and there is nothing we can do about that. Unfortunately, our calf is due during the wettest, muddiest and dirtiest time of the year.

As we watch closely for the signs of calving, we begin packing a bag of necessities. I tied some knots in a long piece of rope, in case I needed to assist. I had iodine for the umbilical cord. I had livestock aspirin, in case my cow looked like she was in pain. I also packed some extra towels and soap in case we needed to clean off muddy teats.

Unfortunately, when we examined her udders, there were a few too many teats. Eight teats in total and about a thousand muddy lump clumps that looked like teats. Panicking, I began devising a plan to give her a bath… but even with a scrub brush and warm water, we couldn’t remove the clumps of mud that were embedded in her winter coat.

As the due date neared closer, I spent more and more time outside. Laying with her in the straw and rubbing her belly, I began comforting her as she was going to be a momma cow.

Eventually, a thought crossed my mind. It must have been the same time it crossed my wife’s too because she asked if we would keep the calf if it was a girl. Then, like we did with our own children, we began discussing names. After all, Baby got her name because she is a big baby and she reminds me of Baby Huey, the cartoon character.

When we were in the labor and delivery department, awaiting the birth of our daughter, the nurse kindly asked if we had a name. It was small talk that I’m sure everyone asks, and unlike homeschooling, regardless of the answer, the nurse was listening and supportive.

Being cantankerous and realizing we were at a Catholic hospital, I explained that we wanted a Biblical name. Something strong that she could grow into. It didn’t take long before names were mentioned, and I think she was expecting something like Mary or Abigail. But with a devious grin and uncontrolled laughter, I said Lucifer… Lucy for short. All joking aside, I’m surprised I didn’t get kicked out.

Baby didn’t seem to have any suggestions for a name, but she did lick my hand, then my face and eventually my head. I figure she really likes me or is just practicing for her own baby.

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