Sunday, September 13, 2009

Zelda, Essie and Jack

This morning I hurried back from Illinois, where I had stayed with my friend Marilyn after our class reunion. No time to dawdle over morning coffee.  We had said our good-byes the night before.  The cows needed to be moved to their daytime paddock and the calves fed a few flakes of good alfalfa hay, so I hit the road in the dark and the fog about 5:30 am.

When I went out to the calf paddock, two of the calves, Zelda and Essie, came running.  Jack was nowhere to be found.  He's the little guy in the picture, taken the day he was born, April 7, 2009.  I finally saw that Jack was lying in a corner at the far west end of the paddock.  I threw down the hay for the other two and went over to check on him.  He wouldn't get up.  I prodded him until he rose and headed across the pen towards the hay.  About 20 feet from the hay, he fell to his front knees, then onto his side where he lay with his head on the ground.

I ran to the house to call Mat, a great vet but also a busy one.  He was not available to come out until tomorrow, but I had a calf down!  What should I do?  He told me to take his temp (no thermometer, have to add that to my list of things to buy).  Okay, in the absence of the thermometer, he said to give him four aspirins and electrolytes.  I called Kathy, who is always there in an emergency, and asked her to bring electrolytes.  She said she would be there in 15 minutes.

I ran back to the pen with a sticky concoction of four aspirins, Para-Tack (an organic parasite concoction, just in case) and organic molasses.  By the time I got out there, I was relieved to see that he was holding his head up.  But he refused my sweet offering.  Hydrating him seemed like a good idea, so I put two ounces of organic molasses into a nipple pail of warm water and took it to him.  To my delight, he immediately stood up and began drinking hungrily.  One of the other calves, Zelda, took over the bucket.  I managed to separate Jack from the other two calves by luring Jack and Zelda to the nursing pen with the nipple bucket, then luring Zelda back to the paddock with the bucket sans Jack, since she was the more aggressive of the two.  Now Jack was alone in the nursing pen, where I gave him the last of the molasses water.  He was a bit unsteady on his feet, but he munched on grass once the bucket was empty.  I brought him some hay smeared with the aspirin, Para-Tack, molasses concoction, but he was having none of it.

About that time, Kathy arrived.  She is so good at details!  She read the label on the molasses and discovered it was probably the best thing I could have given him.  One tablespoon provides about 20% of daily potassium for an adult.  Jack weighs between 150 and 200 pounds.  So we gave him another helping of molasses in water.  He was no longer wobbling.  He drank down the bucket of molasses water with its precious potassium, then went over to the hay and began devouring that as well.

All seems to be well.  I will check on him from time to time throughout the day, and I have a call in to Mat.  He'll come out tomorrow if we have any doubts about Jack's health.

Here is another count for you - 3 calves.

As of Sunday morning, there are 15 chickens and 3 calves.  I don't know how to make a "wobbly smile" emoticon, which is the only kind of smile I can muster right now.  I am still worried about Jack.

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