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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The octopus calf

The calving has slowed down drastically and our night shifts have changed to every three hours instead of two. Punky and Eli decided it was finally safe to go home for a night, although they left the radio on just incase there were any problems.  I was on the 2 o’clock check.  When my alarm went off, I dragged myself out of bed and went outside.  Someone had put a calving cow in the barn on the 11:00 check. However, when I looked in on her, she had afterbirth hangout out but I couldn’t find the calf anywhere. I was puzzled. I ran her into the chute just to check her out. When I reached in and felt around, I was even more puzzled. All I could feel were three legs and feet (all different sizes), a tail, and no head. Something was VERY wrong and that baby wasn’t coming out naturally. I ran inside and got everybody up to help deal with this thing. Roger said that whatever was inside felt like a ball with legs sticking out of it every which way. It was either going to be a C-section or bullet calf. I called Punky and Eli on the radio and they rushed up to the ranch.  By the time Punky got here we had everything set up for the C-section, so she set to work right away. Once we were in the cow, the uterus wouldn’t flip and come to the outside insition, no matter how hard we pulled. One can’t cut into the uterus if it isn’t in a place where you can sew it up afterwards. I reached my arm inside the cut, went shoulder deep and could feel the bones of the calf through the uterus wall, but it would not budge. There was absolutely nothing that we could do for this cow and her calf, the most humane thing being to put her down. They got the gun and butchered her outside. I went to sleep for a couple hours. When I awoke, everyone said to look outside the door in the wheelbarrow.  So I did and I couldn’t believe what I saw!  It was the most deformed and scary looking calf you could ever imagine. There was not one thing normal or right about it. All of its joints were backwards, it had four joints on some legs instead of three, the legs were pointed weird directions, its face and nose were squashed in on one side, the neck was curved way back so the head was upside down, the spine was crooked, the hip bones in strange places, and the ribs were in the wrong spot (not covering internal organs). Later, I dissected it and the insides were just as weird as the outside. Its liver was all bulgy, it had one shriveled up kidney, the lungs were black, and the stomach was filled with fluid. The heart was normal. However, the liver, heart and lungs were all in the wrong place. It should have aborted long ago, but somehow it had lived all this time. No one had ever seen anything like it.  Although it was all very interesting, I felt so bad for the calf and the poor cow. She had been a good mother in previous years and was very gentle; sadly there was just nothing anyone could do for them. Here is a photo of what it looked like (don’t look if you are easily grossed out). I would post more pictures, but they are rather gory and I don’t want to cause anyone to be sick. 

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes, I think it's amazing that our bodies work at all. They're so complex, and yet so tough.