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Thursday, March 21, 2013

The hustle and bustle has been slowly but surely picking up around this outfit. The calf count is now past 225. What fun to watch these little creatures race around with one another, tails stuck straight in the air, bucking and jumping as if they were practicing for the rodeo. These warm sunny days we have been having lately fills everything with energy and a feeling of the impending spring!
            On one particularly busy day, we had to pull three calves all in a row.  One was backwards, another was just too big and the last was upside down. I got to see it all in one afternoon. After all that “experience” I guess they thought I was the right girl for the job when yet another calf needed to be pulled that night. I felt inside, hooked the chains up to the feet and guided the calf out. It is so satisfying knowing you helped a little calf into the world!
            I plucked up the courage to try milk straight from a cow and I was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t taste terrible, amazing! In fact I thought it had less of a taste to it. I am now regularly having it on my cereal, yummy!
            And finally, the heifer that I have been so excited about and waiting oh so patiently for, has calved. She was the sweetest, quietest and cutest looking heifer of the whole bunch, or so I thought.  Her calf was large so it had to be pulled. It was a fairly hard pull too, but it lived and is good and healthy. However, when we let the heifer out of the maternity chute, she went absolutely NUTS. Attacking and screaming at anything and everything in site that even smelled human. My jacket that had been hanging on the gate got a good beating! Roger says he has never seen a cow do that in all his years of working with them. We gave her a few days to accept her baby, but she never did. So the calf was grafted onto another cow and has a new loving mother now.  My favorite little heifer has been designated for trail ride meat . . . they said they would save me a steak! Ohhh, I’m so sad, I thought she would make such a great cow. :’(
Unfortunately, there have also been a few more fatalities. One morning I walked out into the heifer pen and found a dead and extremely bloated cow in the mud. It seemed she had gotten onto her back, couldn’t roll over, filled up with gas and died. Apparently this is not uncommon and they can die within minutes from being in the wrong position. And sure enough, a few days later I was walking about doing checks and found a cow on her back.  She had just popped a calf out and was rolling around, legs flailing, trying to right herself. I hollered for help, ran to grab a rope and we managed to get her up without difficulty. It’s a good thing I walked by at just that moment though, or we might have had an orphan to deal with.
Another unfortunate event was when we had to pull a heifer’s calf and it got stuck halfway out for some reason.  They pulled and twisted the calf but he refused to come out.  Consequently, he suffocated because he was not able to fully inflate or drain his lungs. When we finally got him out it was too late.
With the dead pile accepting a few new members the scavengers have been around. There was a bald eagle and a HUGE golden eagle getting into a brawl over the food, boy was that was something to see!  The other morning I was lying in bed and was startled by a bang that shook the whole house. Shortly followed by two more equally loud bangs. There was a wolf by the dead pile and as I had guessed, they were shooting out the window at it. I don’t believe they got it though. Wolves are a real threat to the cattle and they can and do kill them if they get hungry enough.
There have been many happy births too. We had one heifer calf born, weighing in at 125 pounds . . . glad I wasn’t her mother.  Another calf was born premature but he survived and is doing very well. He is a tiny, short haired, toothless thing, that couldn’t even walk a few days ago and still has some difficulty eating. My goodness is he adorable though!
And today the oddest calf was born. For most of the day we had thought this calf had been stepped on by the mother; that would explain her large swollen belly. I noticed that her rear end didn't look right, a bit puffy and bulging. When we lifted up the tail, there were no holes. This poor little heifer couldn't poop or pee. There was really nothing we could do (even I, the optimist in these kind of situations, couldn't find a bright side) for the poor little thing but put it down. We opened her up and took a look at her insides. Her bladder was HUGE! Close to rupturing I'd say. And there was a strange watery sack attached to her liver that had everybody stumped; so she obviously had other issues too. It seemed as though her urinary and digestive tracts ran together somehow, and what would have come out was a mixture of both. Interesting, yet very sad to say the least.
About that lamb I wanted so badly, I think it will have to go on my 'future pets list'. I just don't know where I will keep him when I am moving around so much. But I WILL get one someday :)

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