Saturday, April 28, 2012


Are even more so when completely unexpected. After the glory of yestermorn, we went into the stable to find little Velvet, the downer heifer, with her head caught under a gate. She had been pretty good the night before, not quite able to stand because of milk fever, but not awful either.

She had been eating hay and quite bright eyed. After they got her out from the gate she lay flat on her side, legs in the air, and bloated. Nothing moved but her eyes, and so cold. Not good at all....

I got Alan to rig a pulley system to roll her up on her chest and the boss put the core of a round bale behind her to hold her there. We wrapped her in hay, ears to tail, and gave her grain and hay. 

She did eat, but in my experience once one gets that far down the wrong road they don't very often find their way back.

I was sick. Really, truly sick. I had such hopes for that poor little girl.

Velvet's dam was an old black cow that belonged to Alan. Her joints went bad when she was carrying her last calf and it took constant nursing for weeks to keep her getting up and down and eating and drinking. That kind of job often falls to me because I simply can't stand to give up on an animal. I have a connection to every single one of them somehow, and I cannot rest when something is wrong. It will drive me crazy figuring out how to fix a sick animal and it breaks my heart when we fail.

 I sometimes try past the point of stupid. I tried real hard with old Volemar and managed to get her through to calving. Then her baby, who would be Velvet, presented with a leg back and all twisted up wrong. Liz had to race home from several hours away to help everybody else in the family get the calf born.

Because I had worked so long and hard trying to save the old cow, Alan gave the calf to me. Sadly old Voldemar never got up again and had to be humanely euthanized.

Velvet became such a pet she would walk right up to you in the yard to get her head scratched. We all loved her. To even have her get down calving about killed me...and the  kids too, who are so fond of her. To see her at death's door truly did me in.

Then midday yesterday another cow of mine, Lucky, calved. It was a heifer. This year has sent us a real dearth of heifers and this one is a lively little girl by the Maxwell bull...It cheered me up a bit, but I was still depressed about Velvet. Kind of took the shine off the other two successful birthings.

At evening chore time we had a lot of hiking to get the new mamas and babies to the barn. When we were done I asked the boss, who was putting down grain, how Velvet was doing.

"She's just lying over there," he pointed. I looked at the feed through panel on the pen.

There was a shaggy black head sticking through, as its owner kneeled to gobble grain. I guess she had had enough of feeling sorry for herself and decided to eat Corolla's grain. Velvet was up and taking nourishment.

And downright eagerly too.


 I could barely contain it. We gave her her little black bull, she fed him and tucked him under a fold of hay. He lay there next to the round bale end with only his head sticking out, looking quite satisfied with himself. She went back to scarfing up grain and looking quite content.

Sometimes miracles do happen and they are surely welcome. I don't know how much longer we will be able to keep dairy farming. Prices are terrible, we are getting old fast. You can't just keep on losing money forever. The kids can't take over...they have to have off farm jobs to survive for themselves. However, as long as I live I will treasure moments like yesterday's when I saw my little Velvet standing up.


joated said...

Good news! For Velvet and the new heifer and you. (Sounds like the little black bull calf is pretty pleased with his situation too.)

Linda said...

I'm so happy for you. It always feel great when things turn around like that. I rode over the hill the other day to see a cow one her back and thought "CRAP,CRAP, CRAP........she moved her head.......We got her up on her chest, she heaved herself up to her feet and waddled off and had a live calf. It made the whole day!

Jan said...

You write so beautifully that I go through the pain and joys with you whenever I come to Northview.

Woodswalker said...

What wonderful drama, happy ending and all. I think the world would be a much better place if "reality" TV shows covered the REAL reality of farm life. I know that it makes my day better, knowing that someone like you loves her animals the way you do.

threecollie said...

Joated, she was down again last night and now she is up this morning. what a roller coaster

Linda, doesn't it just drive you crazy! Glad you had a good outcome too

Jan, thank you for your kind words. I really appreciated them

WW, they cost me a lot of sleep! I love the idea of a reality show. There are some now that are a lot of fun. I don't much watch TV, but there are a couple that keep sucking me in. lol

Terry and Linda said...

I am so glad! So very, very, very glad for you! To lose an animal, any animal, but one you love like family is horrible.

As for the kids...when we started no one thought we could make it, but we did. We both got jobs off the farm, did the farming after and before hours, raised kids and kept on keeping on (as you well know the drill) we gave up on stuff the other people in every activity known to mankind, lots of new clothes and CARS for the kids...we ate well, because I canned and we had our own meat and I ground our own flour. Gradually we turned a corner and we are still here farming in our 60's. (Surprised his folks that's for sure.)

Your kids have the same fiber you and your husband have...I do believe they can do it. The example you have set will help your kids pass on 'farming' to their children.

I just know it...I really do!