Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An Interesting Morning

I went out to do chores this morning and found the cow out in the muck, nudging something with her nose. "Damn!", I thought. She's had her calf and it's dead. I jumped the fence and waded in. A big, blue-black, eye blinked at me from the muck. ALIVE!! but really cold and wet. May (our cow) moved away as I pulled the calf from the muck and tried to clean it up. May nosed in, then walked away. She had done what she could, now it was up to me. There was no way the calf would survive if I didn't get it fed and warm. So I scooped her up, climbed the fence, and ran up the hill to the house. I yelled for help at the door and the kids came running. Fortunately the fire was going so the house was fairly warm. I kicked all the heaters on, grabbed some towels (CC is going to kill me for using bath towels to dry a mucky calf!), and got the kids working on rubbing the calf down in front of the fire.
I grabbed the milk bucket and went back to the barn. May was going a bit crazy by this time. I got her some grain, tied her up and milked out one quarter. I sprinted back to the house, strained the milk into a bottle, and fed the calf. We got a couple of pints in, then we really went to work rubbing and drying. Five towels later the calf was fairly dry and warm enough to be shivering. Back I went to the barn to finish milking out May. I gave her some hay and headed back to the house again. Strained more milk, filled the bottle with another quart and went back to feeding. About this time the kids asked if the calf was a boy or a girl. I hadn't bothered to look. Turns out it was a girl. Just what we wanted. More feeding. More drying. Less shivering.
Finally she curled up to sleep in front of the stove. I finished the chores. When I came back she was up trying to walk around. I let her finish the last of the colostrum and headed back to the barn to prepare a place for her. (she is too big to live in the dining room, even in our really rough, yet to be remodeled, dining room.) We have a small pen where we keep goats who are about to give birth. I filled it up with straw, some hay and water, and moved May in there. After 5 minutes everything was as it should have been.
Now I get to clean the house and do the laundry. The house smells like a barn, and the laundry... well, it better come clean.
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