Most of the time our cows would freshen and have a calf and it would occur in the barn. But sometimes if the cows were in the pasture and there was a woods as part of that pasture, we would have to go look for it. Our Crawford County farm near Seneca, Wisconsin, had three fields for our grazing milk cows. The knoll field was the one pasture that had an extensive woods bordering the tillable field.
One day in 1952, when we brought the cows in for milking, a cow turned up missing. My brothers, Phillip and Bob, and I were sent on a mission to find it. We yelled “here cow, here cow” and got no response. We searched for about 20 minutes before we found the cow and her newborn calf. Cows keep places like this secret and do not like telling anyone where they’re hiding. Giving birth to a calf is very personable to the cow, you understand.
The cow was licking her new born calf, and we pushed the calf along, and carried the calf part of the way, to get back to the farmstead. We knew that if you carried the calf, momma cow trailed real close behind.
I was totally amazed at how soon a calf is able to get up and walk after it is born. Whereas most humans take about a year, calves are up and about in less than an hour. I was only 10 years old, but I figured that calves have four legs and humans had only two legs, so they had a big advantage.
My brothers and I were tired and hungry when we reached the farm buildings. It was only a trek of about a quarter mile, but seemed at the time to be a much greater distance. We put mother cow and her calf in a portion of the barn and walked into the house. We suggested to Dad and Mom that we might want to put a cowbell on a cow that ready to give birth. We pointed out that the Swiss farmers put cowbells on their cows. I believe our suggestion went nowhere.
Photo: Fotolia/Dmitry Pichugin