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Mitch squatted on his heels, watching the cow laying a few feet away. Every once and a while she would strain, but the efforts were coming less often. Mitch turned to the youngster hovering beside him.
“Danny, I don’t think she’s going to be able to do it by herself.”
“She doesn’t look too good, Papa.”
The cow let out a long bawl. Her eyes bulged as she strained to have the calf. After a few seconds she dropped her head to the ground and lay panting. He looked at Danny and nodded.
“You’re right, Danny. She’s having trouble. Maybe she’ll let us help.”
Mitch trotted to the pickup. He grabbed the obstetrics box he carried with him during calving season. When he turned, he almost ran over Danny who was standing just behind him.
“Can I help, Papa?”
“Sure, Danny. But we need to hurry.”
The two of them rushed back and moved to the business end of the heifer. Danny stood and surveyed the scene before him while Mitch dug for the pulling chains.
“Is that the calf, Papa?”
Mitch looked over to see a hoof pressing outward, but only one. “Shit!”
“What’s wrong?” Danny asked.
“There should be two hooves. One’s folded back and that’s why she can’t have it.”
Danny looked at him for a few moments. When Mitch didn’t say anything, Danny tugged at his shirt.
“You gotta do something, Papa. It’s not doing good.”
Mitch stared at the animal and that she was far too quiet as she stretched out her neck and her eyes rolled. He knelt and began working on changing the calf’s presentation. But in a few moments, it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to move the calf—his hands were too large.
He moved back, trying to think what he could do. Mitch had already called the vet, but didn’t think he could get here in time.
“What’s wrong, Papa?”
“I can’t reach the hoof. My hands are too big.”
Danny studied the situation intently. It was almost as if Mitch could see the gears turning. After a few moments, he turned to Mitch.
“My hands are small. I bet I could do it.”
He considered the boy beside him. It wouldn’t be dangerous to Danny, and the cow was definitely in need.
“You sure?” Mitch asked.
Danny nodded, appearing to be completely comfortable with this.
“You have to reach up inside…”
This time Danny looked at him and rolled his eyes. “Papa, I’ve helped before with the goats. I know things.”
Mitch grinned and then nodded. “Okay, well let’s get you all ready. I have some small AI sleeves.”
With that he pulled up a long latex glove and helped Danny thread his arm inside. A few minutes later, they were ready and Danny was kneeling behind the animal.
“Okay, be careful. The leg is folded back. You just need to ease it out so we can get an OB chain on it.”
Danny nodded and began pressing his way inside. In a few seconds, he was buried up to his elbow, with an intense expression on his face.
Mitch was about to tell him they needed to stop and hope the vet got there in time, when Danny paused. “I think I got it.”
Danny tensed and began pulling backward. Mitch hovered close, in case he needed to help. But a short time later he could see Danny’s fingers, and the hoof they were wrapped around. He quickly slipped the chains over each hoof and began pulling gently. Danny stood to one side and watched as the calf came closer and closer to freeing itself.
Suddenly it slipped free and slithered onto the flattened green grass. Mitch grabbed a towel from his box and started frantically rubbing the calf in an effort to get it breathing. A few seconds later it twisted in his hands and coughed. At the tiny sound the mother came to life, letting out a long low call.
Mitch carried it to the mother’s head and she began licking it clean. After a few minutes the cow had gotten to her feet and was urging the calf to stand.
Mitch gathered up the equipment as they watched, and helped Danny clean up. They walked a few feet away so they could watch and be certain the calf didn’t need assistance. It slowly rose on four wobbly legs and the cow encouraged it to find its first meal.
They watched as the calf gained strength with each passing moment. Soon it had found the mother-load and was nursing vigorously.
Danny watched for a few seconds before turning to Mitch. “Okay, Papa. What’s next?”
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