Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Down Side

I was going to take Saturday off from the farm as I thought it was a light enough day that I wouldn't be missed too much. As it turned out, it was going to be better for my parents if I took Sunday off instead so I headed out for the typical routine. We got another blast of winter recently so the chores would take a bit longer than normal but I wouldn't be doing any extra tasks so it shouldn't have been a very long day anyway.

Unfortunately, that didn't turn out to be the case.

Our very small herd of cattle has become rather spread out in terms of calving schedules but this is the period when most of them are due. Our newest calf had been born the day prior and although it was quite large it seemed very strong and energetic, even running about the barn a bit just a couple hours after being born. But when I checked in on her while doing chores on Saturday, she seemed very listless. When I let her mother back in she did not even get up to feed, but just laid there. I haven't been around the cattle again for very long but I knew this was odd. So I kept an eye on her and when she still had not got up to eat after another hour and a half, and by looking at her mom's udder I did not think she had eaten that morning either, I finally decided to call Dad. Initially he was not too concerned but as I described the situation he decided I should try to milk a bit from the mother and see if I could get the calf to eat, he and mom would head right home.

I didn't have much luck but when they got home, dad and I were able to milk the cow and got some into the calf. It seemed to regain some energy but dad was still concerned, especially as it didn't get any better over night. To make a bad story a bit shorter, when I got out there Monday morning I learned that the young thing had finally died the night before.

This is the downside of raising animals. Birthing is a traumatic process and, sadly, they do not all survive. This is always a blow, both emotionally and financially. Its an extra big blow this time since she was another heifer, so vital when one is trying to rebuild a herd.

As with most things, however, its not ALL bad. Now we have a bit of extra rich, raw milk as this cow is a particularly heavy milker. Too bad we don't have any feeder piglets now!


Anna said...

I know what you mean. We ordered 25 meat chickens, and two have died, which bothered me a lot more than I expected. I think I was upset because I wasn't sure if I could have prevented one of the deaths if I'd been more experienced. But I have to remind myself that death is a fact of life with livestock (and they're only chickens!!) Hang in there!

Jerry said...

Ditto, Anna!

Thanks, and sorry about the losses at your end.