Open Thread Friday
Thursday was one of those surprise days, each moment getting more dramatic.
Uh oh I've got a problem and it is only 10 am. Snow had just started and only two cows came to move into the day pasture. The pregnant heifer can be seen standing under a tree by the ditch bank. Walk down to look at her and the water bag was just starting to protrude, calf is coming today. I had promised myself no more calving. But an errant bull from the neighbor last spring resulted in two pregnant cows and a heifer, with winter due dates.
Fortunately could watch her from the house with binoculars and stay warm. See a hoof, think there is the second one. Now I can't tell how many hooves too many bare lilac branches in the way. Walk out with a flake of hay. Its been an hour and now only one hoof visible, not sure if it is a front or back leg. A little bigger than I had hoped for her first calf, not good. Will start putting the metal panels back in the corral so I can load her into the squeeze chute and find out what is the position of the calf.
Better eat could be a long day. Finish the corral set up, all the drop pins in place and chute open. Now gather supplies to check her and if necessary pull a calf. She has walked off. At the divider fence, flat on her side. Appears she was trying to reach the older cows. Well it is not breach, two front legs and part of the head visible, tongue extremely swollen and almost ice cold. Make her get up, its less than 2/10ths of a mile walk to the corral. The calf might be lost, but should be able to save her. Calf completely withdrew back into the uterus by the time we reach the corral.
Back into the house to clip nails short, scrub up and get a bucket of warm water. A quick look outside, should of put on my glasses, it looks like a long lump behind where she is laying. It looks like she expelled the calf. Need to get out there quick, maybe I can still save it. Grab an armful of old beach towels and sheets.
Its side is moving, I roll it off the mud and onto a sheet and start rubbing with towels. Mom is on her feet and helping dry the calf. An eye blinks, it is getting air past the swollen tongue still protruding about 6 inches. Roll it again onto dry towel, the sheet is soaked. Snow is beginning to fall again and calf (a bullock) needs to get dry faster. I head to the upper field to get the cows. They might help dry the calf more efficiently than me. He can hold his head up. We might win this battle.
Cows and mom did a good job. Still need to get some warm food in his belly. Mom has not dropped her milk yet and his tongue is too swollen to suckle. I will concoct something from what I have in the fridge. Organic milk, frozen butter from last milking season and yogurt heated together should work. Get the syringe and head back out. He is standing - yeah. Tongue is going down and he can lightly suckle my finger as I squirt milk down his throat. Food in the belly, ready for rest. Set down some hay for him to lay on and mom to eat.
Did bring him in for the night. Low could be 17 degrees or less and after all this success I don't want him freezing. Tomorrow (Friday) will be working with him and Mom so she can start feeding him.
As I finish writing this, beginning to wonder: How do you handle medical events for yourself and pets?
Saturday morning, calf is standing by Mom's side getting a bath, not sure if he is nursing on his own yet. He spent Thursday night in and walked back out to Mom Friday afternoon. Much more dignified than being rolled into a garden cart and hauled to the inside pen. While inside he learned how to drink from a bottle and drank colostrum frozen from a milking 2 years ago.
Not worried what to feed him with now. While busy with him, my milk cow Daisy dropped a beautiful red heifer. Until he starts nursing on Mom, Daisy can be milked for his daily bottle feedings.
Most of my interactions were intermittent targeted to a specific step goal. Prepare, watch how the process proceeds, decide to intervene, then step back to watch how the process proceeds and repeat. The small cow herd and his Mom were as responsible for the success as I have been. Since I did not completely take over they will be in charge of his future care. The hardest part is learning the patience to let things be.