Lucy’s in the sky

Lucy- Big Mama

I started the day with cow shit in my bathrobe pocket and ended it with a bottle calf named Ole.

I was in the kitchen just waiting for the coffee to finish and trying to get the kids out the door on time. One of my favorite views is that out the kitchen window, looking out to the front yard, the barn and corral. This morning the corral didn’t look well.

I slipped on the first pair of shoes I came to and headed out.

Lucy was down. Not laying down like she just hadn’t got up for breakfast yet but laying down like she was dead. Her calf, later to be named Ole, was tucked in next to her. It was cold and had been raining off and on so everything was a muddy sloppy mess. Lucy was still breathing but it was labored.

Mike met me at the fence with the same worry I had.

She was laying on a slight hill with her legs on the up hill which would make it rather difficult, if not impossible for her to get up. Mike climbed the fence and was able to roll her over to give her a better chance of standing.

The way she was looking she was not going to be up any time soon and her calf was going to need to eat. Sweet Caroline has fed almost any calf that’s tried to get a snack so we decided to put Ole in the barn with her and her calf in hopes that she would take him on for the day at least.

Mike picked up the Ole and handed him over the fence to me. Both of us thinking about getting the calf fed and neither of us remembering that I’m still restricted from lifting anything heavier than baby for another week. (On the other hand, it wasn’t specified who’s baby was the weight limit.)

Once on the other side of the fence, Mike carried Ole to the barn. The poor little guy was hungry. He followed Caroline around, but she was having nothing to do with him. We tried distracting her with feed but even then she did not want him close by.

My guess is because she knew he belonged to Lucy and Lucy would run Caroline off without hesitation. Obviously Caroline had no idea that it wouldn’t be an issue this time.

We went back out to check on Lucy and decided that the vet needed to be called right away. I reached into my bathrobe pocket (no I was not dressed and ready for the day yet) and came out with my phone, a pacifier and cow shit. Ugh.

I called the closest large animal vet and got his voicemail- he was booked for the next six weeks. (If you know of a large animal vet that’s looking for a change of scene, we could use a couple more in the area.) I then tried the vet in a neighboring town. It was outside of business hours but thankfully he answered.

“I can be there at ten.”

“Perfect! Maybe call before you come. If she doesn’t make it I don’t want you to waste a trip.”

At that point there wasn’t much else I could do for her. I just kept looking out the window in hopes I’d see her up and checking my phone for the vet’s call.

I’d checked on her just minutes before the vet called and she was still breathing but not looking well.

When he arrived, he checked her over and gave her an I.V. of calcium and other minerals. The symptoms pointed towards milk fever, which was a slight relief. A good dose of calcium should have her back on her feet in no time.

After the calcium, we rolled her a little more upright but she was still too weak to hold herself up. As Dr. Ralphson held her semi-upright I shoved some hay under her for support.

“Give her a couple hours and if she doesn’t get up call me.”

A few hours past and I called to let him no she’d made no progress. He would stop back when he was done on his current farm call.

Another bottle of calcium, some vitamins and antibiotics and a handful of prayers was what we had to offer.

“Do you have a skid steer?”

“Yes”

“When your husband gets home, put a chain around her horns and pull her out to the pasture. Don’t pull her legs, you’ll tear her up. That calf is going to need a bottle too. Go to Rhodes and get the milk replacement there. They have the good stuff.”

Mike had a neighbor coming to try and help him get Lucy up later in the evening. Since I really wasn’t going to be much helping lifting the cow we did our best to pack straw under and around her until she could be moved.

The little boy C, baby Q and I headed to town to get the feed before they closed. Mike was in the corral when we left and was still there when we arrived home.

The guys tried for quite some time to right her. But eventually it just came to the point where they made her comfortable and we’d have to see what morning would bring.

Ole’s first bottle went well that evening. Little miss S was so excited to work with Ole. A bottle calf wasn’t in our plans but even after these first few days I can see that it’s a great joy for the kids.

The next morning I checked on Lucy first thing. She didn’t make the night.

Mike and my dad with the skid steer, loaded her up into the back of the truck to bring her to her final resting place. I watched them drive out and a short while later the rain came again. Mike said it started the same time she hit the ground.

Feeding Ole
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She Just Climbed Over and Thump!

The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.

Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!

I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.

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Goat Poop is Not Raisins

I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.

I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).

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So I Made Pie

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It’s been a long time since I’ve talked with a dear friend. Years, to be honest. In fact I think the last time we hung out I could have killed us both if it weren’t for Jane stopping us before we left the bar parking lot. Not the brightest decision I ever made, the angels were watching over us that night. It was a fun night of bad karaoke, Jack Daniels and a polka if I remember correctly. Years leading up to that had plenty of good times, shooting clays in the gravel pit, four-wheeling and so on.

A lot has changed since then, life sent us other directions which is expected. The news a few years ago that a pace maker was needed was a surprise. More recently the news of him in need of a heart transplant caught me completely off guard. It’s not news that you hear every day or if you’re lucky never in a lifetime and especially about a friend so young. I sent a message “we’ll be praying for you” and that’s what we did. What else is there to do in a situation like this?

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Rest in Pieces

Today we say “goodbye” to a great little steer. Elvis and I have had “the talk” a few times and the day has come. Last night he was loaded into my uncle’s stock trailer accompanied by a few more with the same destination. I was both excited and sad as I filled out the butchers order form indicating how I would like him returned… little white packages. The freezer has been unplugged for most of the summer so the thought of it once again full and of our grass fed beef this time is pretty exciting. It will also be nice to not be calling mom “do you have an extra package of burger?” It happens often.

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