When given a choice, I always like to hear the bad news first. I guess that I like to end on the more upbeat situation. I have no idea how you feel about the matter, but, since I have two pieces of good news and only one piece of bad news, I’m going to try the (visualize air quotation marks here) sandwich approach. I’m going to “sandwich” the bad news in between two pieces of good news. I learned this tactic many moons ago. Bad news (or even constructive criticism) is always better received when it comes in the midst of praise. I do this with my kids, my husband and other situations of conflict. We are all more receptive to hearing the hard stuff when it’s surrounded by love. I don’t have any constructive criticism for you today (that I’ll take the time to mention here, anyway), but I still believe bad news is easier to take when it’s surrounded by good news. It gives perspective somehow.
So, the first bit of good news is that Cubed Steak, the crazy momma cow (okay, first-time heifer) who repeatedly kicked Little Red Rose in the head when she tried to nurse is GONE! She was loaded up by our good neighbors on Saturday and has been relocated for the safety and well-being of every calf at Country Haven. No tears were shed, and there was much overall rejoicing. Little Brisket and her momma, Smudge, were released from their enclosure into the pasture to frolic in the snow, mud and sunshine without fear of attack. It was a beautiful thing.
Now, for the bad news. Little Red Rose still isn’t doing as well as we’d like. She’s still scouring (having diarrhea), and her illness has started to affect her appetite again. My favorite vet stopped by on the way home from his birthday supper at his parents’ house last night to check on her, and decided that Red Rose needed more help. She was ready for the “full work-up”, which included two injections and a mouthful of “calf yogurt” late last night and a stiff cocktail of milk replacer, supplements, electrolytes and pink bismuth in her bottle this morning. I felt a little “wizardish” while mixing her morning repast, wondering if it was 100% organic and non-GMO. I decided I didn’t really care if it made her feel better.
It’s tough to get a not-so-hungry heifer calf to down two quarts of weird magic potion. Fortunately, she was mostly hungry and gave it a good shot. What usually takes her approximately three minutes to consume took her about half an hour. About two-thirds of the way through, she stopped sucking and started fiddling with the nipple. I gave her a break while I watered and fed the chickens, then went back to coax her into taking some more. She drank a little bit more, then started to stick her tongue out at me. During this time, her roommate, Buddy, was indignant. He did not understand why Rose was still eating when his breakfast was gone. I tried to explain that it was the exact same amount of food, but that he just ate his faster. He didn’t buy it and continued to make his displeasure known by butting at the bottle in my hand or trying to suck on Rose’s ears. Very distracting. I finally got smart and separated Red Rose from Buddy and tried to feed her the remainder of her milk. She took a few drinks, then decided to explore her new surroundings. While Rose licked at concrete blocks and nuzzled noses with the momma cows who were waiting for their own breakfast, I put down the bottle and went about the business of feeding the moms. I then returned to Rose to sweet talk her into eating a bit more. She loves her lower jaw scratched, so I scratched and murmured sweet nothings and then slipped the nipple into her mouth once again. She downed a few more swigs and then refused to open her mouth for another drop. My favorite vet says that he really likes ’em to “hit bottom”. Rose had less than a cup of her breakfast brew left, and no amount of pleading would get her to take more. Hopefully, she got enough in her to give her the oomph to down another batch of secret recipe tonight. Poor Red Rose.
Okay, more good news: When the kids and I returned from roller skating yesterday (well, they skated; I did not), they went out to the pasture to check on Wilma, the first-time heifer that had not yet birthed. Lying on the grass in a soggy black heap was a new baby. We watched as Wilma licked and talked to the calf over and over. Eventually, the baby struggled up onto its wobbly legs as Wilma encouraged it with nudges and gentle lowings. After a few comical minutes of trying to figure out how to use its legs, the calf wobbled its way to its momma’s udder and began to nurse like a pro. It was truly an amazing sight.
We have been told to give the cows a fair amount of privacy while calving, so these photos are a bit grainy because of the distance. I still think they’re sweet, though, and we were privileged to be part of this miracle. Though they do not all belong to us, we now have three “pairs” (momma/calf teams) here at Country Haven and two bottle-feeding calves. We are still learning (and praying!) a lot. We are thankful for the warmer weather, though we’ve been told that the mud can be problematic with little ones. We’ll just keep watching and doing what we can.
Oh, and happy birthday to my favorite vet.