The cows are in the field on the neighbour's place, opposite our front veranda , and I woke up to the incessant marming of a calf. I went out to investigate and could see the calf in question with a group of others being looked out for by the designated babysitter, so didn't think anything more of it. G-Man got back to the house at about 5:30 AM (some hours after Sparrow Fart) and the calf was still going for it, so he walked along the creek bed to investigate further. There, up to her shoulders in putrid ooze, he found its mother.
He came back and got ropes, waders, chains and the tractor and set off to find an access away to the field, and sent me off to keep the mother calm. She must have been stuck in the mud for several hours sternly warning her calf away from the danger. Every time it got close to her, she mooed something in cowese that seem to say, "stay where you are, do not come any closer", becasue it appeared to do as it was told.
The poor old girl was exhausted from trying to climb out of the bog. By now the calf was really hungry and kept returning despite best efforts of the babysitter trying to steer it up the hill. On one occasion as it advanced towards us, I could see the high tide mark of mud up to its shoulders and realised that in fact it was the calf that had gone in the first and the mother, in an effort to save it (which she did) got herself into trouble.
G-Man, our hero, waded into the sludge and got the rope around her neck and under her front shoulders and attached it to the tractor, and with advice from Dave (the guy who drives a cattle truck who we'd rung because we'd never had to do this before) tried to pull her out. However, she was so slippery that the rope just slid over ahead, pulling her front legs up under her chin. After two attempts, he had to get back into the bog again and retie the rope, this time with a loop under a black leg and tail as well.
We were both terrified that the force might break her neck or pelvis, but there was nothing else we could do -- we don't have a gun and I don't think either of us could summon up the will to kill her until we'd tried everything else. He got back up onto the tractor, tensioned the rope and and then started pulling. She was so slippery that she slithered up the bank quite easily, looking for all the world like a newborn emerging. Which she was I guess, reborn.
She was all tensed up during the pull, but when she realised she was on dry land that wasn't giving way beneath her, she flung her head back and closed her eyes. At that point I thought she was a goner, that we'd broken something vital, but within a minute she was up. Her hindquarters were shaking -- the muscles must have been burning with lactic acid from the struggle - but she had her head down and was eating, without so much as even a rope burn.
We lead her out of the paddock and back to the herd who were, I have to say, wildly delighted to see her back, not least of which her calf, soon to be seen greedily sucking up a muddy milkshake.
Lucky number 61.