It was a heckuva 24 hours. It started with this girl going into labor. It seemed like birth was imminent yesterday around 2 pm, so I set in to watch. It's been a while since I've had the opportunity to have that privilege, so I waited, camera in hand. But nothing ever came. There was no amniotic sack and no feet, so I figured it was all just stage 1 "preparatory labor." I'm not prepared to tell you the whole story tonight, but suffice to say, things finally came to a head around 11 pm.
While waiting with 93 while she labored, it got dark, and I turned the big spotlight on the paddock. The elk were a bit disturbed by this and were chatting loudly amongst themselves and then coming by the fence looking very curious about what was going on with that poor yak cow.
And then I noticed 604 was walking laps around the pasture. And then they became more purposeful and I could see she was panting and I knew! She was in labor too!
Sadly, shortly before midnight, I realized the yak cow had an abnormal presentation when she finally let me get close enough to palpate the amniotic sack. And then I simultaneously realized the calf was already dead. It was a strange deal, the calf already being dead because the presentation wasn't difficult to correct when I helped her deliver her stillborn calf. It's hard to deal with the death of what you expected to be a joyful occasion but then to not understand exactly why it happened makes it more so.
I think I probably made it to sleep around 2 am and then my boy woke me up at his customary 6:30 wake up time, but I was awake! I wanted to go check on my girls. How was 93? Had 604 had her calf yet? 93 seemed pretty good and 604 was still walking the fence.
Around 9 am, I saw that 604 had stopped pacing, so I went to see how things were going, and I could see feet sticking out, which was such a relief! Then I decided it was time to see if I could catch a peek of 601's calf. It had been over two days since I had seen it and I like proof of life occasionally!
That's when 601 and I began to play the hot/cold game. She was in one pasture up against the fence and so I closed the neighboring pasture off so I could get closer. As I moved, I could get a feel for whether I was getting closer (hotter) or farther (colder) from her calf by how she reacted. When she acted like she wanted to charge at me, I knew I was getting close!
It soon became apparent that the calf was in the pasture I was in while mama was stuck in the other pasture, so I took a little extra time trying to find that calf, watching mama's reaction the whole time. There were a few times it was clear I was close, but can you believe - I never did see that little thing. I finally gave up and went up to the house. I was in the back yard when I suddenly saw her calf headed across the pasture toward his/her mama. I must have practically tripped on it!! They're such good hiders!
Around 11:30, my neighbor came by to pick up the calf's body to bury it for me. While we were chatting during the exchange, I looked over and - low and behold - 604 had just had her calf!! Talk about the juxtaposition of life and death.
604 and her baby are doing great. I can't believe we have TWO elk calves... at the same time! And I'm confident we have at least one more coming. 93 is still struggling a bit trying to pass the afterbirth, but the vet doesn't seem too concerned. I wish that little yak bull had made it; I hope that the other yak cow has a successful birth soon... I'd sure love to enjoy a little yak calf running around in addition to the elk calves. But that's the nature of it all. Farming. Life. The whole bit. The Lord gives and the Lord taketh away, but it's all blessed and beautiful.