|Leslie the Milk Cow|
This new cow comes on the heels of a bottle calf (heifer) I bought a month ago that kicked the bucket after 5 days. The vet really ripped me for even buying it and spoke horribly about the man I bought it from who is apparently renown for selling sick cows. An old man and I were talking one time about getting into the cow business and I told him I didn't know a whole lot about it and needed to learn. He told be in a very rough vernacular that there was only one real way to learn in the cow business (or any business for that matter): "Pull out your wallet and get (screwed)!" He really wasn't too far off. Nothing teaches you a lesson better than losing your hard-earned money.
When I look out on my fields now, which I've been steadily fencing in, and see the progress I've been making at utilizing all of the land we have, it makes me happy. We don't have a lot of land, but the 5 acres we do have has a lot of fencing on it. Two pig enclosures, two goat enclosures, a cow enclosure, and the only land we haven't really designated for animals or other use is in the front yard. The back yard has Finn's playhouse and the side yard hosts our few fruit trees, other than that the only land we aren't using are thoroughfares to my brother's pastures.
On to a sad note. For a couple of weeks I've been doing my best to doctor a poor baby goat back to health. She was an underdog from the get-go; her mother got sick right before she had her and was in poor health for the last little bit of the pregnancy. One night I came home and thought I heard a faint mewing out in the pasture but all the goats were up at the shed. I couldn't figure out who it might be since honestly I thought the sick momma goat might have had a miscarriage already since she was so skinny. I got a light and went looking around, and I found this tiny little girl goat. She was solid black except for the frosting on her ears and had sparkling blue eyes. She had been cleaned up, so for a few minutes her mother must have actually acted on instinct and behaved right, but she had no milk so she must have just left her thinking there was nothing she could do. I started bottle feeding her with milk and colostrum I milked from another goat. For a week or two I tried grafting her onto another young mother goat who had a kid but it wouldn't take fully, so I kept feeding her by bottle or going out and holding one of the freshened goats and letting her nurse. After a while I just assumed she was tenaciously nursing off one of the moms because she would try to nurse off all of them and get a little here and there. She was eating feed and grass and drinking water too. So I stopped bottle feeding her.
A few days went by and she got the scours and started losing weight and was anemic. So I realized I had screwed up and got back to bottle feeding her and forcing other mother goats to let her nurse and I gave her some drench too. She was still declining so I bit the bullet and gave her a shot of wormer. She only weighed about 5 pounds and I was afraid it would be too much for her but I tried. A few days later her scours started clearing up but I'm not sure if that wasn't just the fact she was nursing again rather than the wormer. She still didn't turn the corner when her scours stopped though and still seemed listless and without energy and her anemia wasn't clearing up; her eye lids were still pale white and her ears still drooping but she was hanging on. So after another week I went and bought some injectable iron and some B12 and I dosed her with iron, B12, more wormer, AND penicillin. I thought it might be too much but I was willing to go out swinging for the fences.
It seemed to be working. Her eyes weren't quite as pale, her ears didn't hang quite as low, and she was even running a little on occassion. We were on track to revive her. The other goats were still mean to her since she would try to nurse off any of them and would butt her around so most of the time I took her out of the pen and let her sit in and around the shed where she could nibble grass and feed and drink water unmolested. Finn and Audrey would tote her around and play with her too, and pretend she was a baby sometimes.
Yesterday morning I went out and fed her and set her in the shed and she was even running around a little more. Josh and I were working on the cow shed/barn, and Lindsay and Finn were on the porch drinking coffee and reading magazines and chatting. I needed a few more boards so I hopped in the truck to go to the wood pile and get some and backed up and drove over there, backed in and was getting out when I noticed Josh had come over to where my truck was and was waving for me to come up there. I hollered to ask him what was it, and he said, "What do you think?!"
|Neko & Jezebel|
That is the reality of life on a farm. Animals live and die; accidents happen. We learn tough lessons by screwing up and getting screwed. The kids learn early on that no one is guaranteed life and witness a life from conception through birth and on to death sometimes. There is not much emotional shelter when you witness these things on a daily basis. Whether it is butchering chickens, killing deer for meat, slaughtering a goat for stew, shooting a predator trying to get at your animals, a goose getting hung on the electric fence and frying to death, feeding a weaning goat too much milk, a bottle calf refusing to live without its mother's colostrum, a goat having a miscarriage, taking off the pig that won't get bred to the butcher for meat, or accidentally killing a beloved baby goat.
My wife accuses me sometimes of being callous about the death of animals, but every animal that dies here I respect and regret in some big or little way. I have just hardened myself to it out of necessity. Living this way (with farm animals) makes you really appreciate the lives of the animals that you consume at the dinner table, realizing what they went through in life and in death, and makes me want to raise all the meat we consume so that I can know it always lived a good life.
|Maude at Goodman Farm to breed w/ Angus bull.|