This morning I was pleasantly surprised to see we didn't get the snow called for, but was still preparing for an inside workday when Dan left. Shortly after, I got a text- there was a newborn calf in the area above the barn! Before I tended to the bunnies, I bundled up and found Belle, one of our oxen, had delivered a healthy calf who was up and about- it's amazing how quickly calves and sheep stand and walk. It's almost always within an hour of birth! So my morning workout consisted of carrying an icy little bundle of bovine joy to the sheep house, where at least she would be out of the elements, and getting mama Belle to accompany her. It's plenty large and I baited it with fresh hay, so they are out of the wind and doing well. If baby still seemed cold in an hour or two, I had a calf coat made of an old sweatshirt on standby in the veterinary cabinet in our pantry. It's amazing how hardy baby calves can be, but we like to keep them out of the elements for the first week or so in inclement weather and give them the very best start we can. I'm always a little nervous about moving mother cows immediately after birth, because sometimes they get aggressive the first couple days, doing an excessively good job of protecting their new little one. If it had been Finni, I probably wouldn't have been bold enough to grab her collar and drag her to the sheep house like I did Belle, but I know my critters and their personalities well enough to have a pretty solid idea of what I can safely handle, especially when I am home alone. And when your cows come equipped with horns, safety is pretty important.
Then off to tend the other critters. June, one of my Silver Fox doe rabbits, has been making a nest for days and was who I was really expecting to go into labor overnight. She was on her nest, not too excited to see me with fresh water, so I replaced it and let her be. I'll check back there to see if we have out first litter of rabbit kits from June and our new buck Angus at evening chore time.
It's also the time of year when I start hatching baby poultry. I was expecting my first chicks to hatch Sunday or Monday, but nothing happened. A bit disappointing, but we had some issues with the house and therefore incubator losing power in a storm a couple weeks ago, the tube from the water bucket to the inside reservoir clogged, and cold temperatures when the eggs are laid reduce hatchability anyways, so I was prepared to accept a loss and hope it turned out better next week. (Our large incubator allows me to hatch weekly.) But when I came inside, I heard a familiar noise coming from the pantry- peeps! (Yes, my pantry is where the incubator AND veterinary supplies live. There are canned goods there too, but it's a multi-purpose room, really.) Only three wet little peeps, but it looks like the hatch is not over, just a little late getting started. But I love hatching chicks and it's a joy to me to have babies everywhere today. The snow is falling, the wind is blowing, it's 22 degrees out, but all of my babies have warm shelter, out of the wind, with plenty of deep hay for bedding. It's a good day. A very good day!
Update- In the end, although the hatch was late to start, over 3/4 of the eggs hatched, a pretty good outcome, all considering, so I had 21 fluffy little peeps, with more coming weekly now. I also have baby rabbits, as June took a few more days but eventually delivered a litter of 5 into her fur-lined nest. Their eyes are still closed and they aren't mobile yet, but she's a great mother and they are getting bigger by the day!