Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sad news, but life goes on . . .

We decided to raise two of our calves for beef.  When we choose names for our calves, we choose names that reflect the first letter or two of their mothers' names, and so Quincy (from Quattro) and Lucifer (from Lucky) joined our herd.  There were being raised to be butchered in about two years.  We did not bottle feed them, but left them with their mothers so there was not a great deal of bonding with them.

They were beautiful, doing fine, about to be dehorned and castrated to begin their life as steers rather than bulls.  I noticed that they were both lethargic, thought they needed to be moved to a new paddock.  There was still fodder, but it was pretty weedy.  I had trouble getting Quincy up, thought they might need a boost of nourishment, and so fed them a little organic calf starter feed.

I noticed that Quincy especially was not doing well.  Then I also noticed that there was very liquid manure in the paddock.  Oh, no, they had scours!  I got electrolytes with glucose and probiotics in them and started feeding them.  Quincy appeared to respond, then that evening fell into a funk.  I called the vet.  He said to keep forcing fluids, but that it didn't look good.  By the next morning, Lucifer was almost as bad as Quincy.  Kayla, my assistant, used to work for a vet.  She suggested doing subcutaneous intravenous feedings.  I spent yesterday running for the iv fluid and the tubing and needles to administer it.  We put a liter of fluid into both of the calves late afternoon.  By then, both were exhibiting Stage 3 dehydration and could not hold their heads up.  Quincy's body felt cold.  At this point, after talking to the vet, we decided to give Quincy some penicillin, even though it would mean he was no longer able to be certified organic.  We had to do everything to save him.

I checked on him every few hours after Kayla left.  By 1:30 in the morning, he was sinking fast.  When I went out at 5 a.m., his breathing was rapid and shallow, and I was pretty sure he would be gone soon.  This was just killing both Kayla and me.  We both love animals, and it was hard to see him suffering.  I left for market about 8 a.m. and Kayla took over on the watch.

At 10:00, I called to see how he was doing, and she told me that he had passed about ten minutes earlier.  He died in her arms.  She had been holding him through the last hour of his life.  I am glad, for both Quincy's and Kayla's sakes.

I asked about Lucifer, and she said he was doing quite well, seemed very alert, but still was not sitting up.  This afternoon when I called to check on him, she said he was sitting up, eating and drinking, had gotten two i.v.'s and even had another envelope of the glucose/electrolytes/probiotics.

When I got home, I immediately changed Lucifer's name to Lucky.  Lucifer had just been the first name to pop in my mind when trying to do a name that started with "Lu."  Well, there can be two Luckys in this herd, and that is his name from now on.  He is very lucky, indeed.  As the second one to get sick, we already knew everything NOT to do after taking care of Quincy, and so he is responding well to our care.

It's 10:20 p.m. and I just got in from giving him a half liter bag of fluids.  He is eating hay and oats and drinking water.  He kissed me, a great "nose touch" kiss that went on and on.  And then he licked my forehead and my nose, and of course tried to French kiss me!  So much for being distant.  We have bonded.

Lucky is not entirely out of the woods yet, but it looks very good.  He even tried to stand once tonight while I was working with him.  In the face of death, so depressing, so hurtful, I am thankful for the life of Lucky.  I am thankful for Kayla's expertise in caring for the animals.  And while I was mourning Quincy's impending death this morning, I heard this crazy noise that sounded like a rusty gate and realized that the two little roosters who were born on May 23rd were trying to crow for the first time.  In spite of Quncy's state, I smiled - in fact I laughed out loud!  Life goes on.

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