If 2020 has taught me one thing, it’s how fortunate I am to be farming.
I’m so thankful to be able to operate close to normal on the farm, with my family around me in a year where chaos reigned in many sectors.
You have to celebrate the small wins. I recall a day in March – when I was 21 weeks pregnant – and I went out to check on a couple of cows in the calving shed.
One of my favourites was calving, a lovely black cow – about nine years old but quite tall. She is the type of cow that you want a herd of.
I peered over the gate, only to see a head poking out, but no sign of legs.
A quick check told me the calf had one leg back at the shoulder with the other bent at the fetlock and she was pushing hard.
Room to manoeuvre
At 5ft 5in tall, I don’t have the greatest reach, but pushed the head back in to give more room to manoeuvre.
Time was against me. Grasping the leg to bend it at the elbow and knee and bring it forward caused exertion on the finger tips and I failed, with it slipping back repeatedly.
This cow wasn’t even tethered, she just stood as if she knew she needed help.
My shoulder muscles were aching now as I kept repeating “Come on girl, come on girl” – I thought the time for saving the calf was gone.
Then, she just lay down in the straw. I worked quickly in the window of opportunity given as the calf was buoyed upwards.
Leg bent, ropes on, I managed to get my hand around the fetlock – and out he came. A clumsy, snorting, gasp from him signalled the good news and I sat alone in the straw, elated.
Having worked for a time as a small animal vet close to Dublin, I can safely say that I appreciate more and more what we have here on our farm.
The seasonal routines, the daily chores, each step building to a much bigger outcome. The joy of farming is all about making the most of the small moments.