Farmer resuscitates calf, now his grandkids have taken charge

BORN AGAIN: After he was feared dead, this little calf survived all odds and is now part of the family. Photo: Emily Gough
BORN AGAIN: After he was feared dead, this little calf survived all odds and is now part of the family. Photo: Emily Gough

In an uplifting change of pace on current world events, it was welcomed news when a calf, who was found lifeless in a creek, beat the odds after he was resuscitated by a quick-thinking farmer.

On the Welsh's farm at Yarranbella, it's coming into calving season - a very different scene from five months ago when it was ablaze in the worst summer of bushfires the country has seen.

While the Welshes lost so much to the fires, remarkably, their herd of Simmental-cross cattle survived and continues to expand as the newest editions are born. But the story of survival didn't end with the fires.

Last Friday evening, farmers Terry and GiGi Welsh (or Mum and Dad, as this journo knows them) decided to take a quick drive around their Kosekai Road property before calling it a day.

"We don't normally check the cattle in the evening like that, but for some reason, I just wanted to see the calves," GiGi said.

It's lucky they did, because they noticed one of the cows had given birth to a calf, but kept anxiously looking in the creek. On investigation Terry said he heard something in the water... "but when I looked I couldn't really see anything because it was so murky."

So as any dedicated farmer would, he waded into the cold creek water to find another calf, submerged and lifeless.

The cow had given birth to twins, and somehow one had ended up in the creek.

Terry wasted no time, he said he pulled the calf from the water, laid it on the bank and rubbed and pushed on its chest in an attempt to get it breathing. After a short time performing these chest compressions, the calf finally took a weak breath.

"A fair bit of water came up, and he took a breath, but I wouldn't say he was breathing well," Terry said.

Then Faith, the mother cow, took it from there, licking and nudging her newly-reunited calf, as its twin watched on.

NO HOPE: After being pulled from the creek and resuscitated, hopes were grim this little guy would survive. Photos: Terry Welsh

NO HOPE: After being pulled from the creek and resuscitated, hopes were grim this little guy would survive. Photos: Terry Welsh

While the calf was now taking shallow breaths, it still wasn't very responsive - giving little hope for a recovery.

"There's only so much you can do," Terry said, "If you intervene too much, you risk the mother disowning the calf."

Knowing they'd done all they could, Terry and GiGi left the rest to nature. But, didn't hold much hope the calf would survive the ordeal.

The next morning, the couple arrived back to the farm to check the herd. Seeing from a distance what he thought was the remains of the calf, Terry presumed his expectations had come true.

LIFE ON THE FARM: GiGi Welsh feeding Red Rocket's mother Faith. Photo: Terry Welsh

LIFE ON THE FARM: GiGi Welsh feeding Red Rocket's mother Faith. Photo: Terry Welsh

"Unbeknownst to us at the time - what I had thought was the dead calf was actually the two placentas; and a calf I saw trying to suckle another cow was actually our "dead" twin - and that's when the full story started to come to life that he had survived," Terry said.

"I thought it was lovely to see he had survived, it was a real surprise, and he deserves to live after all he's been through," GiGi said.

FARM SELFIE: Terry and GiGi Welsh with their dog Molly. Photo: Terry Welsh

FARM SELFIE: Terry and GiGi Welsh with their dog Molly. Photo: Terry Welsh

It's no bull, this little guy is a survivor. But sadly, after everything, he was still disowned by his mother.

"As cows usually only have one calf per pregnancy, it's not uncommon for a cow to disown a twin," Terry said. "Cows can get disorientated with twins. While they have one calf, they are less likely to go looking for the other. So one just ends up getting left behind, unless you step in."

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The abandoned calf trying to suckle from another cow after his mother disowned him. Photo: Terry Welsh

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The abandoned calf trying to suckle from another cow after his mother disowned him. Photo: Terry Welsh

With the chances of a successful reunion no longer an option, Terry and GiGi decided to do the next best thing. Call up the grandkids.

"The calf is such a lovely, friendly little thing, so we thought because the grandkids were all in home isolation right now, this might give them something nice to do," GiGi said.

A Simmental-Belgium Blue mix, who's father is a gentle giant of a bull, the calf naturally has quiet genetics, Terry said - perfect for hand-raising. So they called their daughter Emily Gough to see if Gough's farm would be open to adopting the abandoned poddy calf. As a Simmental breeder herself, Emily didn't hesitate to bring the new baby into her herd.

"Maybe it was the maternal instinct kicking in - but it's like raring anything else, it's a beautiful little baby who needs love and care," Emily said. "And it's something good for the kids to do, it's fun, which is what is needed at the moment," Emily said.

It didn't take long for the kids to make the little calf feel at home. Zoe, 11, Annabelle, 8, and Daniel, 4, have named him Red Rocket. They've set him up in his own little stable and he even gets snuggles before his bedtime.

"He's doing really well. He's a strong little fella and very gentle," Emily said. "All the kids get involved to take care of him - Daniel calls him his 'little buddy', and they all take turns feeding him his bottle," Emily said.

Emily's eldest daughter Zoe has been raising poddy calves since she was just six-years-old, Red Rocket will be the third calf Zoe has had a hand in raising.

"I enjoy looking after [Red Rocket]. He's got big blue eyes and he's super cute. He's my special friend," Zoe said. "I like looking after baby animals, especially big ones likes calves or foals."

Younger sister Annabelle said she just loved everything about the new calf, especially his soft fur and his friendly nature.

While the kids are aware of the situation with the coronavirus in the world right now, living on a farm has been a great means of healthy distraction for them during the pandemic.

For Terry and GiGi, finding joy in the small things helps them navigate their journey to recovery after the bushfires. While the rebuilding effort has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the routine of farm life gives them a sense of order amid the chaos.

FROM THE ASHES: The Welsh's property was destroyed by bushfire in November 2019. Photos: Terry Welsh

FROM THE ASHES: The Welsh's property was destroyed by bushfire in November 2019. Photos: Terry Welsh

With everything going on right now it's easy to get caught up in the anxiety gripping the world. But then stories like this come along and leave you with the warm and fuzzies - and a reaffirming sense of hope.

So when a few fortuitous events align, and there's a cow named Faith and a calf is resuscitated to go on to bring joy to many - maybe we can indeed call it... a little Easter miracle.