I have not blogged about the events of Wednesday. I initially thought I’d like to do a detailed, play by play, point by point analysis on the day, complete with pictures. I’ve decided I don’t have the patience for it! (I seem to be low on that commodity these days.) In the interest of not having gaps in my blog history, I feel it should be mentioned here, with a few pictures.
As most knew, Daisy was due to calve today, the 5th. Cows often go before or after their calendar due dates, just like people, and she dropped her little bull calf in about an inch of wet snow on Wednesday morning, November 30. All seemed well, but there were factors at play that we didn’t understand.
My dad was standing out with me, and I dragged the wet, sad-looking little thing from where she’d dropped it, which just happened to be practically in the barbed wire fence (why the heck do they do that???) Daisy was licking and nuzzling him a little, but seemed completely indifferent to my presence. That isn’t normal. Even if she accepted our presence, most new mothers are still protective and working to get the little one dry and on its feet and enjoying its first meal. She was doing none of those things. My dad was saying it just didn’t seem right in his experience.
I got a tube of calcium paste down her gullet with little difficulty, and we continued to stand back and hope Daisy would do her thing. After 45 minutes of waiting, we started to get concerned. It was cold and windy, and the calf had barely attempted to stand, and Daisy still hadn’t gotten him dry. So Dad asked me if I thought I could carry the slippery 60 pound calf to the barn, a good 250 feet away over just as slippery ground. I said I thought I could, so I picked him up, and Dad went ahead and got the doors open for me (he was wearing his good clothes and boots, and was trying to stay out of the poop.)
Once in the barn, I finished Daisy’s job of drying the calf off, and then set to trying to get it to nurse, unsuccessfully. Jenny arrived shortly thereafter, had as little luck as me getting the two interested in one another, or in getting more than a cup of colostrum milked out of Daisy.
Long story short, the vet was called when Daisy started convulsing and went down in the stall and refused to get back up. In a matter of a few hours, she was taking her final breath as the vet’s lights came down the drive. And the little bull calf was not at all thrilled with the bottle.
The following morning, we cut out the wall of the barn so Daisy could be removed. Aaron used a mini-backhoe with a boom attached to drag her out and to the back of the property for burial. Even though the vet said milk fever (a mineral deficiency) was definitely part of the problem, she suspected something else may have been at play for her to have gone down and died so quickly.
Neighbors provided colostrum for little Chuck Roast that first day, and are providing us with a gallon a day of milk to raise him on, free of charge, for now. He’s taking the bottle with gusto at each feeding, and follows us around like a puppy whenever we’re there. I feel certain that had Dad not been there last Wednesday, we’d have lost them both, because I take a hands-off approach where baby animals are involved, in the interest of not interfering. I didn’t have enough experience to know when it was time to step in.
Today I taught him a little about leading and being tied. He caught on quickly. He also got his first taste of the electric fence. It’s not strong enough to hurt him, which we are going to have to remedy!
Caring for Chuck is a learning experience, and a lot of fun. Sully is getting over his jealousy, and Dixie and Blue are both learning to share protective responsibilities. Though Chuck is destined for the freezer, it will be awhile, and in the meantime, he’ll learn his place on the farm. And the lessons Daisy left us with are invaluable. I don’t know whether or not there will ever be another cow; we’ll take that as it comes.