Thursday, March 02, 2006

Misery on the farm

This year I have to tell you that farming is not going well. This morning before work I found a very brand newborn calf in the corral. After awhile I phoned my in-laws and asked them to check the calf. MIL phoned about 10:30 to say that the calf wasn't up and sucking yet. Usually that takes one to two hours.

I decided to go home at lunch hour to see how things were. MIL was just heading into town to buy colostrum for the calf so I changed and went out to the corral to talk to FIL. After a bit I decided to walk through the rest of the herd to check on babies and mamas, and there I found another newborn calf, but this one was dead. What is going on?

I went back to work, knowing that the struggling baby was in good hands. MIL phoned mid afternoon to say that they'd finally gotten about six ounces of the colostrum into the calf, that he'd had a hard time sucking but eventually gotten the hang of it on the bottle. They were going to have lunch and a nap and check him again later.

When I got home, I changed and went straight back out. They were gearing up for another onslaught because baby still wasn't cooperating. (You guessed it; Jim is out of town until tomorrow.) I called our good friend R who was raised on a cattle farm and he came down and gave my FIL a hand, while MIL did the hold-the-rope-and-other-stuff detail. We spent two hours with the mama haltered and tied to keep her steady (her second calf, so she's young yet) and trying to get the calf on. R got the calf in position and its mouth wrapped around a teat. No sucking. Over and over. Finally he milked out a bit, put it in the bottle, and tried that. He wouldn't suck. Eventually R took the nipple off the bottle and just poured the milk in the calf's mouth. He did swallow most of it.

He's not going to last long if he can't or won't suck. We have no idea what is going on. All the ones that have been weak or sick (or dead) have been bull calves. The heifers have all been fine. Why? WHY???

Headed back out in a couple of hours to try one more time. Is it worth it? I don't know. We still have five cows left to calve out, but now I'm dreading seeing a calf rather than being glad.

Sorry, Jean. I don't feel up to calf pics at the moment.

1 comment:

Jean said...

I wouldn't feel up to calf pics either, Val. Hugs. I'm so sorry for these babies--and you.