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?”
“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.