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Last calf of season hits the ground

APRIL 23

Last Wednesday, Lilly Ann finally calved. We were glad the calf was normal and healthy, after her serious illness and high fever three weeks ago. He was small, but strong and lively.

The next morning when Lynn and I were feeding cows, we noticed a group of cows and calves coming down the road above our place. We got the four-wheeler and roared up the road to head them off before they got to our lane and into our haystack. We herded them back up to the neighbour’s place where a gate had been left open, and put them back into their own field.

Magrat finally started calving Sunday morning. She’s never calved in a barn; her first three calves were born outdoors. However, the weather this year has been so miserable we were afraid we might have to put her in the barn. She’s a huge, tall cow — capable of jumping over the division panel between the stalls and smashing it. In preparation for possible barn calving, Andrea and I put her and Buffalo Girl in the barn for a trial run last week, in adjacent stalls so Magrat wouldn’t be by herself. She didn’t mind being in the barn. This is much different, however, than being in labour — in pain and upset. That’s when most cows get frantic and try to “climb the walls” and get out. So a few days ago Andrea and I tied a pole across the low spot, above the panel, so it would be impossible for her to jump over.

Even though the weather was nice Sunday morning, by the time Magrat was in serious labour the wind was blowing and it was starting to rain. So we put her in the barn, again with Buffalo Girl for company. Magrat didn’t try to jump out, and she had a nice bull calf. A few hours later, in the middle of the night, Buffalo Girl started calving, and we put her back in the barn. We are finally done calving!

APRIL 30

Last week Michael helped us tag and band the last bull calf, and then helped Lynn take the post pounder off our smallest tractor, and put the blade on, to start cleaning ditches. Andrea and I hadn’t taken time to work with the fillies for a while or ride Sprout, so on Thursday we caught the fillies, and then rode Ed and Sprout on a fast ride five miles up the creek and back. We hurried home so Andrea could get to town to take the little girls to dance practice after school.

Friday we checked on the cows and calves and discovered that one of the youngest calves (Maggeruete’s calf) was sick with scours. He was fine that morning, but by 6 p.m. had watery diarrhea, very weak, and was not nursing his mother. We brought the pair in from the field and put them in a pen by the barn, and gave the calf 1-1/2 quarts of warm water and electrolytes (with a liquid oral antibiotic and kaolin/pectin mixed in) via nasogastric tube.

We gave him more fluids/medication by tube in the middle of the night (at 1 a.m.). Andrea and Dani came down to help, and Dani held the flashlight for us. He seemed a little better by morning and was nursing his mother but by late morning had diarrhea and was very weak again. We realized he needed fluid more frequently to keep from becoming dehydrated. During this stormy weather we’re glad we have the secondary barn for shelter. Maggeruete’s calf is finally doing better after four days of intensive care. Yesterday I gave him a dose of probiotics paste containing some of the “gut bugs” he needs — in case the antibiotics killed the natural flora in his digestive tract. He has finally “graduated” and no longer needs fluids.

MAY 7

Last Wednesday, Michael and Carolyn moved their cows and new babies to the field above the upper corral, where they won’t have access to the creek. Where they’ve been crossing the creek from the Wild Meadow to Gopher Meadow, there is risk for calves being swept away and drowning now that warmer days have resulted in high water. That morning they also found a freshly-killed deer along the road, with most of it eaten. It looks like a wolf kill.

MAY 17

Nick drove home from Iowa (William Penn University) last week. He and Michael took a few little bales up for their horses — for Lynn to feed when he did their chores. We were the “battery backup” for all the chores last weekend, with everyone gone.

Thursday afternoon, Charlie sang a solo in his school program, and then Andrea and kids drove to Utah for Sam’s national dance competition (and her group got second place!).

We fixed a place in our barn for the calf where he could go in and out of the grassy pen in front of the barn. He gets a bottle three times a day — early morning before chores, again at 2 p.m., and last thing before bedtime.

We attended the annual Spring Concert at the high school. Charlie’s fifth-grade band played several pieces (and Charlie had a trombone solo), and Emily’s high school choir sang (and Em had a short solo). We are proud of both kids. Em has been too shy to sing a solo before now, and Charlie just started playing trombone in mid-January. We are glad that they both enjoy music. †

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