My brain lately is taken up with the most bizarre mix of dominant thoughts, from the glorious to the worrisome to the completely out of my control.
On the one hand, it's calving season. This is an exciting time for us, our first experience _ever_ with witnessing (hopefully!) the birth of new life on our farm. Bridgit's first calf is due sometime this month, we think, leading both Paul and I to have weird dreams of gigantic calves and multiple calves and, well, calves. When and how the experience goes is outside of our control; all we can do is our best to prepare for it. Neither of us have experience in this area, and the best we can do is gather the supplies we might need (and hope we won't), read up on things like tube feeding a newborn, reheating colostrum, the proper way and when to assist in delivery, etc. I am learning the signs of impending labor from a couple of cow discussion boards I'm on, so every evening I go out and check both Bridgit and Sheila as I comb them: do they look "slab-sided," meaning the calf is dropping into delivery position (Bridgit only at this point); are their udders "bagging up" or filling with milk; do they have mucus strings (yucky, but a clear indicator of progress toward delivery); are their pin bones sticking out and tailhead raised, meaning the ligiments are loosening to allow a calf to pass through the pelvis.
To my surprise last night, Bridgit physically looked a little different than the day before...the back end of her spine, just before her tail head, was more prominent looking, she had a much longer "stringer" than I've seen yet, and her udder is much fuller in the back. Oh, boy. We're not ready for this! We thought we had until the end of the month. And maybe we do, but I'm not going to bet on that.
At lunch today I'll be heading over to Bartell's in the strip mall across the street from my office and gathering a few "non-farm" calving supplies: a giant tube of KY Jelly (in case we have to help get the calf out), a 7% iodine solution (or more if I can find it, to dip the calf's navel in), mineral oil (it's good to have around for a variety of reasons). This weekend we'll go buy the "farm" supplies, like the OB chains (to physically pull a calf out by it's feet, if necessary, God, I hope not), the shoulder-length gloves (not for the prom!), dried colostrum in case Bridgit doesn't have enough or the calf has trouble nursing, bottles and nipples, and a feeding tube for emergencies. I plan to stick all of these items in a big plastic tub with a lid, along with a couple of battery-powered lanterns, and house it in the barn until it's time.
On a totally unrelated mind-track, I'm feeling nervous about the economy (unusual for me) and wishing our garden had been more productive and that I'd made the effort to "put up" some of our veggies, like the beans and cucumbers we picked. We have a freezer full of fish, and in the next couple of months will hopefully add wild game (it's deer and elk hunting season again), and our pantry is far from bare, but living out in the country and feeling a little more isolated in some respects makes me want to hunker down and prepare. We also plan to get a bigger generator and hard wire it to the house with a new panel. Don't worry, I'm not preparing for Armaggedon, although perhaps that has crossed my mind. Preparing for the unexpected isn't a bad idea over all...heck, we've heard from neighbors that we're the end of the road as far as the power grid goes, so any outage is likely to affect us longer than our "city" neighbors closer to town. What a shame it would be to lose our freezer full of groceries to a power outage we weren't ready for.
Lest everyone worry I'm occupied with doom and gloom, I'm also ridiculously excited for my 4:45 appointment tomorrow at Nordstrom's Bobbi Brown counter, where I'm going to receive a free (!) makeover during their grand reopening event! I want to look pretty as I await the arrival of our first calves!