Our cow Clover is close to calving again. We have not had her delicious milk since September 27th. We are excited and anxious for this birth to commence. The range of due dates that we had based on when we got her bred were the 25th to the 29th. Obviously she is on her own calendar and will have her calf when she is ready. Could be a week for all we know... but she does look close.
We watch the udder and the composition of her hip and "pin" bones. The pin bones are the pointy bones on either side of her tail. They move apart a bit as she gets ready to "freshen" (ag lingo for the birthing of a new, baby bovine). You will also see some mucus start to flow... that is what we saw first as Christmas approached. Her udder has also been steadily getting bigger... I would say it looks bigger today than it has, the increase in size has been steady but minimal. Today it seems to really be filling out.
I know the iphone photos are pretty bad... but you can see a couple things in this one in particular. First of all the udder is now "bagging up" to the point where it is taking its shape and pushing out between the back legs. You can also see, less clearly, that her vulva is swelling a bit and has that really slack, "I am about to have to open wide to let the calf out" look. You know the one, right? Suffice to say that it does not usually take up such a large and prominent postiion under the tail. I am sorry I do not have any good "before" pics for comparison.
There is also the Murphy's Law element. That law would dictate that she will have her calf on the coldest, windiest day of winter... another potential vote in favor of tonight.... but Wednesday looks down right bitter! We'll see.