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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Why Not?! We’re Already Late

“Oh no you didn’t big mama!”

We were already late, like later than the usual late, and there she stood staring at me as I was flying down the driveway. I hit the brakes and slid a bit on the ice, then put ‘er in reverse and was up to the barn in seconds.

The kids were curious about what was going on but not too excited. They’re used to ma’ skidding to the barn anymore.

Lucy doesn’t have a set due date but by the looks of it it was to be soon. She usually looks ready for a good month or so.

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Who’s in the barn?

There was a short week where we didn’t have any morning chores. The cows were in the pasture and the goats had been sold. I’m back to morning chores now. We’ve got the steers that are scheduled for burger and Sweet Caroline in the corral and the rest of the herd in the pasture. That means filling a second stock tank and feeding hay and grain to the boys and Caroline. They all could use a little fattening.

Poor Caroline, she’s been so skinny. I’ve dewormed her a few times thinking maybe that was the problem. According to the calendar she was due to calve in a month but she was just too thin. I spoke with the vet and he came out and gave her a look-over. Diagnosis was slight pneumonia, very nutrient deficient and not pregnant. All around disappointing but fixable. His recommendation was give her some finishing grain along with her hay and some extra minerals. And ween that darn calf!!

The other girls kick their calves off when they’ve had enough. We haven’t had much of a problem getting them to ween when needed. Elwood is a few weeks short of a year. There’s no good reason he still needs milk. Sweet Caroline is living up to her name once again. She will nurse any calf that tries and will not kick Elwood off. That is draining her as well.

Long story short, I’ve been trying to keep the two separated for a good month now. It hasn’t been going well. Elwood’s head is still small enough to fit through the fences and gates. He calls from the gate and she stands there and lets him eat. We had finally been making progress when she was in with the steers.

That all went to hell on Sunday morning.

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Rudy- Beef or Bull?

“Hey! Check your phone!” It was Mike calling me at work.

“Wait…What?! Is that Wheez..Lu..Mar.. no Lucy’s?!” I couldn’t get my words out but through my stammering Mike was able to translate.

“Yes! Lucy had a calf not too long ago. She’s still cleaning it off.”

“Well shoot. I didn’t think she was due for a couple months yet.”

Once again surprised by a calf. Lucy is great for calving, knock-on-wood, she hasn’t needed help with any so far. Each one she gets up and eating right away. She’s a good cow.

No wonder she looked so crabby this morning!

When I got home I headed right for the barn rather than the house. The cows were spread about the corral. Lucy was standing next to the feeder outside. I didn’t see a calf anywhere. It’s not unusual for our calves to get out at least twice within their first week. But not usually within the first few hours and when Lucy’s calves are out she’s call’n. I walk up to the fence next to her and looked around. It was then that the hay in the feeder moved. The little guy was balled up in there and she had him covered to keep him warm.

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First Calf of the Season-Margo

Lucy and Margo

What a crazy morning! Lucy had her calf, a little heifer I named Margo. The barn cat that we hadn’t seen since we brought him home two weeks ago finally decided to come out of hiding and let the whole family pet him. I’ve got two ducks sitting on eggs and a dozen in the incubator. Then the mailman calls and our chicks arrived already! I wasn’t expecting those until at least tonight if not tomorrow.

Here’s how it went:

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