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BISON TALES

Front Row Seat

April 23, 2009

Every year around calving time, we are frequently peering out our windows to the south, with binoculars, looking for the first baby buffalo. Usually, the cows will calve at the far south end of our property, and with binoculars we can see what's going on. Most of the time, the cow that's preparing to give birth will go off by herself. That's a sure sign that she's ready to calve. She wants to bond to her calf, which is much easier when no one else is around.

For some reason, it's a special time every year, when that first little cinnamon coloured buffalo is spotted in the field and we always look forward to it, with great anticipation.

It's the 23rd of April, and it could happen any day. It's a typical weekday around 6:00 pm. Supper is almost ready. The table is set; we're just waiting for the vegetables to be cooked. With the binoculars always handy, I make a quick check in the field. The whole herd is right up at the north end of the field, 100 ft. from the house, all lying down - all but 2 cows. I nonchalantly scan the group not expecting anything unusual, but one of the cows standing up has the big white bag hanging from her back end! She's going to calve. Right here in front of us!

It usually takes about half an hour for a calf to be born, so I have time to grab the camera. But if I open our door and go out to take a picture she'll definitely hear me and maybe get spooked and run. So, I dish up our supper and I have both the camera and the binoculars within reach. It's quite the sight. She lies down, has a few contractions, gets up, lies down, more contractions etc. etc. Eventually the birthing starts, and then the rest of the herd get up and come over to her. Then that slimy looking bag drops out and a calf is born. It struggles and kicks and pretty soon the bag has broken and the little calf takes its first breath. The cow is immediately licking the little buffalo and there are other cows around too. After some substantial licking and prodding, the little calf struggles to get on all fours. It takes a few attempts, but at last it's standing. Our breed bull J.D. comes over and roughly pushes the helpless little calf and down it goes. More attempts to stand up and at last it takes a few steps: a new generation on the Tumbleweed Farm.

I managed to take some photos through our patio door window of the event. I recall commenting how unusual it was for the cow to give birth so close to the house. Perry's reply was "They trust us". Nevertheless, it was exciting to have a "Front Row Seat".

Front Row Seat