Calf 54, where are you?

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  • "I've been here for three years now, and I have yet to see the actual birthing process. It's hard enough to locate the calves once they are born… There is no sure sign that they are going into labor and it is a mystery to me how they manage to secretly give birth when I'm not watching.” - Jason Friedland, Lowland Farms manager, 2014. Photo by Robert Breese

  • The calf is the offspring of red Devon cow #79, also known as Gretel, and the grandson of Greta. He himself does not yet have a name. “They don’t get names until they become mommies, because before that happens, they’re considered part of the meat supply so we don’t want to be naming those guys,” said Friedland. Photo by Robert Breese

  • "They’re super cute. You get to get up and close and personal with them when you give them their ear tags and see what sex they are. If they’re males they get castrated, which is not fun. It’s basically, there’s a mechanism you use to slip a rubber band around the entire unit down there. It sloughs off eventually, they don’t seem to feel any discomfort. Even though they’re 2-3 days old, they’re still pretty strong. You lay on top of them. That’s as close as you’ll ever get." - Jason Friedland, farm manager, 2014. Photo by Robert Breese

  • Dirt called the day after the birth for an update on Gretel and calf. “The mother’s condition was not spectacular,” said Friedland. “She was a little thin and her udder doesn’t look very full, so we just watch. The calf was nursing in a healthy way – a lot. Coming back for more. We just have to watch. There’s really not much you can do, so this is a stressful time of year.” They do have formula that they can use in dire cases, but only once, out of perhaps four times, has that measure saved a calf. Photo by Robert Breese

  • And here he is two years later. Photo by Robert Breese

For Mother’s Day 2014, we thought we’d run photos of a cow being born. Photographer Bob Breese, man of infinite patience, got to know the herd at Lowland Farm, going there day after day and spending hours. On April Fools morning, he discovered he’d been eluded. He arrived to find an hours-old calf starting to walk and suckling. We were happy with those shots (plus it was deadline), but Breese kept going back. On April 4, his patience was rewarded when he got to see, and document, a cow named Pansy give birth to a brown and white boy. Two years later, he went back for a reunion.

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