The miracle of birth on the farm amazes me.
How can something I cannot see with my naked eye turn into something as amazing as adorable as a baby calf?
In the case of Tiny, I don't think there will ever be another calf born that is as adorable.
Photo by Kerry Hoffman
Joe Hoffman kneels next to Tiny, a calf born six-weeks prematurely on the Hoffman farm. Having a calf born that early, and surviving, is very rare. Tiny is approximately one-third the size of a health, full-term Holstein calf.
Tiny was born a wee bit early, according to our record keeping. In fact, Tiny entered the world an entire 42-days before her due date. Tiny was also born out on the pasture, without any human interaction, which makes it real unusual. I would think any calf born this early would need to have some sort of help in surviving.
From what we have learned in speaking to our vet, it's very, very unusual for a baby calf to be born this early and to survive.
Apparently Molly, a co-worker of ours, found Tiny as she was checking on the pregnant cows in the open-front barn.
We have had tiny calves born here before, but Tiny is wellreally Tiny.
The average weight of a newborn Holstein calf is 90 pounds. I know how heavy 90 pounds of black and white fluff is. Lifting an average-sized black-and-white calf makes me grunt, and then I usually give up and call over a strong teenager.
But Tiny is another story. I can lift her with nary a joint cracking. One bag of feed or barn lime weighs 50-pounds. One rather large bag of dog food to feed five hungry dogs weighs 46 pounds. I can easily carry all three of those items and it gives me something to compare the weight of Tiny to.
So when I asked Joe, "How much does Tiny weigh?" and he answered, "Less that 50-pounds," I knew I had to go and lift her off the ground.
It was amazing. I am guessing her weight to be right around 30 pounds. With hardly any effort, which means no grunting or sweating is involved, I can carry Tiny across the yard.
I questioned whether Tiny's due date could have been off by six weeks. I guess it's possible, but Steve didn't think that was the case this time.
"She has really short hair," Steve said. "Think about it, when a new calf is born, it has loads of long, fluffy hair."
He's correct. I love how new calves are so fluffy after the mother cleans them off. The vet also questioned us on the length of Tiny's hair, which is nice and white and soft, but without any fluff.
Tiny's legs are also a bit funky.
Normally a calf is born with straight front legs that look the way we all think a calf's legs are supposed to look.
Tiny's front legs have a strange backward bow in them. In fact, I commented to Steve that Tiny and I have the same back bend in our legs.
"She is going to have terrible knee issues when she gets old," I said.
Tiny can barely reach the bottle holder in the Polydome in which she lives. She still gets exceptional attention when it comes to feeding time. Everyone sits and watches her eat like it's her last request.
Occasionally, I let her out of the dome in the middle of the afternoon. I think exercise does her body good. Her legs don't look as peculiar as they did her first day.
Our dog Ole seems to think Tiny is another dog and he tries to get her to play with him. It's quite charming to see the two interact. Ole runs straight at her and she juts to the left or right. Sometimes she gets the rodeo thing going and kicks her back legs into the air. After that little stunt, she usually ends up on her belly in the soft green grass.
Tiny is going to be just fine; it's just going to take her a bit longer to catch up in size to all the other calves.
For questions, or comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.