During this past calving season it appeared that there would be no twins born on Pipi’s Pasture in 2013…but there was one cow left to have her calf. Early on the evening of May 13 Sarah started showing signs that she was getting ready to calve.
Sarah is an older light red/orange Simmental cow with white markings and a white face. Over the years she has produced some beautiful calves, some of which became replacement cows. But up until this past spring she has never had twins.
That all changed about 3 a.m. May 14. Sarah woke me up with her bawling. I got dressed and went a few steps from the house to find her along the fence with a new calf. The calf had its head up and was alert, and Sarah was cleaning it off. I figured that I had a couple of hours until the calf would be up and ready to nurse so I went back to the house.
At about 5:30 a.m. I went back to the pasture and was surprised to find Sarah with two calves! One was where I found it earlier, but there was another calf a few steps away. Sarah kept going from one to the other, acting confused. After all, she had never had twins before. No wonder she had been bawling.
As far as I could tell, neither calf had been up yet, certainly not the one I had found earlier. Turns out, it was the last one born, a tiny calf. Apparently she (both calves were heifers) didn’t have enough room to develop in her mom because one ear was folded back and her neck had a “crick” in it, causing her head to set sideways. Otherwise, she was fine.
Both calves were identical in markings. They were light gray in color (since their dad was a black Simmental) with white faces.
I went back to the house and fixed a bottle of warm colostrum. When I got back to the pasture, the older, bigger calf was ready to nurse. I gave her half a bottle of colostrums, and she started looking for a place to nurse on her mom. Then I went back to the little calf and got her to stand up on her wobbly legs. She was ready to nurse, too, and drank the rest of the bottle.
By that time the bigger calf was walking around — boy, was she walking around — so I grabbed her before she could head off into the pasture. I headed her to the corral where I planned to put Sarah and the calves for a while so the calves would both learn to nurse on their mom.
As anyone who has ever tried to herd a newborn calf knows, it isn’t such an easy feat. She tried to take off on me more than once. Sarah followed along, mooing at the calf. The other cows took notice, especially Pipi, so I had to contend with them, too.
As I stopped to open the corral gate, I saw that the other little twin was headed for the corral, too, as fast as her wobbly little legs would go. It was a sight I will never forget. The will to survive is incredible!
After I had Sarah and the bigger calf in the corral, I went back and helped the little one. By the time we got to the corral, she fell down and crawled under the gate, through a hole that a pawing cow had made.
A little later that morning, my husband Lyle helped me put Sarah and the twins in an enclosed pen. (He packed the little baby.) I wanted the calves in close proximity with Sarah so they would learn to nurse on her. Over the next couple of days we fed the babies by bottle while continuing to introduce them to mom’s milk. Our son Jamie and family were over for the weekend so Jamie and Lyle worked with the calves one evening until both calves started nursing on Sarah. Amazingly, the little baby caught on first.
We don’t always give calves names, but I wanted a way to refer to each of the twins. I thought about calling the little calf “Crooky,” but that didn’t work. So then I decided on “Cricket” (for the crick in her neck), and my sister Darlene suggested I name the other one “Jiminy”. So, they’re Jiminy and Cricket.
The twins are thriving, happy little calves. They’re about the same size and are turning a light brown color. Because we have spent so much time with the calves, they run to visit with us. They chew on our clothes, untie our shoes, and rub on us. Cricket’s ear has long since straightened out, but her neck remains in a “crick” so that she still looks at us sideways — not that it matters. It doesn’t slow her down one bit.