Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why I want a Mini

This is one of my all-time fave YouTubes...

Poppy and his cow


Rachel got this shot while she was here visiting.

And the wooly worm says....


Batten down the hatches, it's gonna be a bad winter!!!!!
(I'm ripping off all of Rachel's pictures!)

Oliver has a mama!


This is a picture Rachel took while she was here this weekend.
When Jason's folks got home they put Rocky's mom and her other calf (Rocky was a twin too) in with Oliver so he would have some company. The cow wasn't really taking to him but the calf would play with Oliver. Yesterday they found Oliver nursing off the cow, she's taking Oliver along with her other calf. No more bottles! Oliver gets to have a mama and drink real milk and go live in the pasture with the rest of the herd! Yippeeee!!!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Calves

On Sunday evening, we went over to tend the cows. I measured out the milk powder, mixed it up and got Oliver's bottle ready for him. Jason and Seth got the dogs and cats fed then hopped on the four-wheeler to go check the herd. Oliver is getting the hang of taking his bottle and doing very well. He went to town sucking down his milk and I figured Oliver would be done and I'd have everything washed up and finished by the time Jason and Seth got back. Yippeee! We get to go home and not have to spend two hours working to get Oliver to suck on his bottle!
Jason came up the pasture on the four-wheeler but instead of Seth behind him, he had a calf. I followed him up to the house and got there as he was taking the limp little body from the rack. I thought it must be dead. Even when Oliver was at his weakest he could hold his head up. As Jason lay the little body on the grass, we could see that he was breathing. His eyes were a little rolled back and sunken in and his breathing was labored. I went to fix a bottle to try to get some nutrition into him.
When you give a calf a bottle they should be standing up but this little guy was way too weak. We propped him up as best we could and Jason held his head up while I worked with his mouth, trying to get him to suck. We were afraid he would be too weak to suck but after a bit he latched on. He worked slowly but eventually he took down about three pints of milk. Oliver usually takes four so we were impressed this calf had the strength to take that much.
Jason said when he found him, the calf was in tall grass along the fence, covered in flies. None of the other cows were paying it any attention and they didn't even look up when he picked the calf up and carried it over to the four wheeler.
The calf was dirty and had flaky residue on him that made it seem his mama hadn't even cleaned him off. He was a good couple of a days old, though, certainly not a newborn.
We couldn't reach Jason's folks so Jason decided to run down the road to our friend's home. She is awesome with cows and has helped a lot with the herd. Jason left while Seth and I stayed with the calf. I sat on the ground and pulled the calf onto my lap and we rubbed and scratched him. Once in a while he would lift his head a little bit.
After some time, Jason came walking back up the driveway. Seems the four-wheeler ran out of gas half way there. Gotta love that! So Seth and Jason took off in the van with a gas can and soon Seth came rippin' back up on the four-wheeler.
Jason came back in the van with our friend's husband (Mr. Friend). He had a special bottle with a tube that goes down the throat into the stomach through which he was able to give the calf some electrolytes and then gave him a shot to help boost the calf up some. We're so glad to have such good friends to help us!
There was nothing more for us to do that night so we put him in the pen with Oliver and hoped for the best.
Yesterday morning I went down for morning feeding. As I drove by the pen I saw that the calf was in a different spot from where we had left him. I was so excited! He had moved himself!
I fixed two bottles and hurried down. I was able to get the calf up on his feet and he stood. I got the bottle in his mouth but he would only latch on, not suck. I worked with him for a while trying to get him to swallow the milk but he wouldn't. He pulled back and fought me a little bit. I was thrilled to see him getting feisty.
Finally, I pulled the bottle from his mouth and there were all these little white worms all over the nipple. Yikes!!!!!!!! Gag!!!!!!!! Bleh!!!!! O.k., I'm supposed to be a cow girl, I can handle this, right?!!!! Gah!!!!!
I moved the calf into a pen away from Oliver (in case it was contagious) and fed Oliver right quick (man am I glad he can eat quickly now!). Off to the vet I started.
On the way I called my friend to let her know about the worms because I was afraid we had contaminated her bottle. She asked me to stop by on my way. She told me it was screw fly maggots and that is isn't uncommon. It isn't normal for them to get in the mouth like that, but sometimes calves do get the maggots on them and need to be sprayed. She had a spray she gave me and said I might call the vet just to see if there is more to do.
The vet recommended that I irrigate the mouth with Hydrogen Peroxide, then wash the calf since his mother never cleaned him, and then wash his mouth out. (welcome to country life--where dirty mouths still get the washing-out treatment!)
I grabbed a healthy supply of my aqua blue nitrile gloves on my way out the door this time, I was going prepared! Good thing we have a nice box of big syringes too, huh? Sometimes they come in handy for things besides water fights!
Geared up and ready to go, I tackled the calf. I irrigated his mouth and got it all cleaned out. I hosed him down and washed him all up. I rubbed him dry and then I sprayed him down. I sprayed Oliver just for good measure since he doesn't have a mama to clean him up too.
I was just going up to the house to fix a bottle of colostrum when my friend came up the driveway. Did I mention she's awesome?!!!!!
We decided I'd go to the house to fix the bottle while she went down and had a look at the cows to see if she could find the mama. Next thing I know, she's got the calf up on the back of the four-wheeler (you should have seen me struggling just to get him into a little tub I could pull him around in! did I feel like a wuss or what?!!!). She took off and went around with the cows but couldn't get any of them to claim him or even give him any notice.
She brought the calf back up and we worked to give him a bottle. The calf was too weak to suck so she used her esophageal tube again and got a good bit of colostrum into him. As she was doing this, she was holding up his front end and his head and I was on the back end, keeping him on his feet. We had a talk about doing all you can for calves but not beating yourself up when they don't make it. She just lost a calf too and she was giving me good advice.
You can have some real heart to heart talks when you're bent over, halfway upside down, hanging on to the back end of a cow. :)
When the feeding was done, the calf walked across the pen a little way. He was terribly weak but better than when we first found him.
There were reports of a storm and rain coming in so I worked to set up a tarp over the corner where the calves like to lay. I got it up and done just before the storm blew in. I was happy with myself on my good timing.
After I picked the kids up from school we went down to check the calves. The calf was out in the rain, just outside the shelter. The shelter wasn't much help anyways since the water was running back under it and there was no place in the pen where water wasn't running or standing. We pushed the calf up under the tarp anyways, and onto some weeds and grass hoping that would help a bit.
Seth and I went back over a couple of hours later to make a platform to get the calves up off the ground. Jason got there a little after us and looked the situation over. He decided the calves needed to go in a different part of the corrals. He found a section the isn't used much so the grass is grown up in it, not just all mud.
We went to work making them a shelter. The pouring rain wouldn't let up at all and there were bolts of lightening tearing the sky in pieces every little bit. As the sky grew darker, we worked to put the tarp across a corner of the pen and layed out a bale of straw and fluffed it up to get them off the wet ground and give them some warmth. Then we had to hand the calves over the fence to each other (no gates in this section). That was fun--nothing like getting your eye dotted by a little hoof. Watch out for flying calves!!!!!
By now it was after dark and we were all drenched and tired. Oliver finally got his bottle that he was patiently (yeah right!) waiting for and I worked with the little calf. He was so weak he could barely suck. He had been shivering when we found him that evening and he was still cold. We tried to rub him down with rags and towels to get him as dry as we could but it seemed impossible. We worked with the bottle and then rub him down, then work with the bottle, then rub him down. Jason decided to name him Rocky since he was such a fighter. So while I was rubbing him down I would tell him (in my best crusty old coach voice) "Come on Rocky! You get back in there! You win this fight!"
After we got some milk in him and with the lightening and thunder around us we finally decided we had to go home. We put Rocky up into the dry corner as far as we could and then covered him with straw to keep him warm. Oliver soon joined him up under the tarp.
We got home to find that the storm had been even rowdier at our house (being up on a hill always makes it feel worse!). When the power went out, Joe had rounded up the two younger kids, brought the dogs in since they go nuts in the storms, and taken everyone down to our storm shelter room in the basement. They held out there playing with the dogs and cracking the hickory nuts I have drying down there.
What an evening! What a day!
This morning I went down to feed breakfast. As I came up the road I glanced into the pen and saw two little white faces side by side under the tarp. I climbed over the fence into the pen. Oliver hopped up and came to me. Rocky didn't move. It wasn't unexpected but it was heartbreaking all the same. I knelt down in the straw next to him and put my hand on his back. He was cold. I watched closely for any signs of life but his eyes remained closed and he didn't move. I shook him and realized his little body was stiff. Rocky had died over night. I looked down at him and could swear that every once in a while I saw the slightest hint of movement like he was breathing. I knew my eyes were playing tricks on me because my mind wanted so much for him to be alive. Oliver came over to us and put his head down to me. He just gently sniffed around and then looked at me.
I looked around and noticed that the straw was all off of Rocky. Not even one little sliver still clinging to his coat. Even if he had stood up and moved around in the night he would still have bits of the grass stuck to him. His coat was smooth and soft and clean. When we left him last night he still had a lot of mud on him and his white legs were almost black with dirt. This morning there was no mud or dirt on him at all. Even the fur on his legs was pristine. His little face was clean and shiny-white. He looked very peaceful lying there. Oliver had taken care of Rocky last night. When I got there Oliver had been lying right up against Rocky, partly on top of him, keeping him warm, protecting him. Now Oliver stood nearby, sniffing and looking at me.
How had this little calf, who himself had just been abandoned last week and didn't have a mother to care for him, know how to take care of little Rocky and do all this?
Rocky had died clean and dry, with food in his tummy, having been loved before he left this world. He didn't have to die alone out in the pasture, left to the flies, with an empty tummy, never having known what a loving touch feels like.
I learned so much this morning. I have begun to realize that it may not be all about when someone dies, but rather how much love did we give that person before they went. Were there times we didn't do that small something because we were busy or tired and there'd always be time for it later. But how many times does "later" come and we've forgotten that little something altogether? We can't always determine how long we will have someone here with us, but we can do all we can, while we can, to make sure they are loved and that they feel that love.
And little Oliver. What a teacher. To be able to give, not something he himself had ever received but something he knew inside just the same, and gave it freely to make another life (and passing) as peaceful and sweet as possible.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Oliver's Lullaby

I took the kids over to help me feed Oliver last night. After getting done feeding, the kids pet him and played with him. Little Oliver was quiet and sleepy and a lullaby seemed in order. The boys claimed they didn't know any lullabys but Katie volunteered to sing a song she always sings to her cats to put them to sleep (and it works!). She knelt down with the boys and sang for Oliver while the boys rubbed him. I was able to sneak a little footage. ;) What better way to end a day.?!

A boy and his horse

Correction

In our story published yesterday there was an error in the information given. Apparently little Annie is not an "Annie" after all but rather is an "Oliver". Sometimes this information is difficult to gather at first, hence the misreporting, but the truth became very evident last evening. We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this has caused. Now, back to our regularly scheduled posting...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Little Orphan Annie or, um, Oliver

Jason has been taking care of his folks' cows while they are away. Of course this would be the best time for all the preggy cows to start calving.
A couple of evenings ago, Jason went out to feed and water and found a little calf curled up in the tall grass on the other side of the fence, away from the herd. He got the little bugger up and back over to the right side of the fence, but none of the cows would take the calf. The poor little thing just wandered into the herd, going from cow to cow. The cows would sniff it and then push it away or kick at it. Jason watched it for a while but none of the cows would claim it. There wasn't much that could be done for it at that point because it was getting dark. At least the calf was in with the herd and a herd will usually respond in number if a calf gets into danger and starts bawling.

The next evening Jason went to feed and water and the calf still didn't have a mama. It wandered around in the herd ("Are you my mama?!") but could not find any cow it could cozy up to. It seemed to be hanging around a cow with a new calf, but the cow kept pushing it away.
We didn't want to make the mistake of taking it from its mama if there is any chance she would take it. Calves do much better on their mother's milk than they do on a supplement. We wanted to give it some time to see if one of the cows would claim the calf.

Yesterday morning we went back out to check and couldn't find the calf. All the other calves were with their mothers and being cared for. It was a heart-sick feeling when we couldn't find the little one. After a lot of searching, we finally found her along the tree line clear across the pasture from the herd. We riled her up, got her bawling and the herd came running. She went in with the herd and they all sniffed her, but again, nobody would claim her.

We think this little orphan calf is a twin and the mama cow doesn't know it belongs to her. Sometimes cows can do this when they have twins--they have one calf and then get busy having the other and forget the first, or tend the second calf and then the first calf doesn't smell the same, or, in this case, we think the first calf got across the fence and maybe the mama thought her baby had died or something. There are no other cows in the herd with full bags right now that would indicate that they had recently had a calf. All indications are this is a twin calf that got missed.

Well we waited long enough, something needed to be done. Jason and a neighbor went out to bring the calf up to the corral where we can feed it. They decided their strategy would be for the neighbor to stay on the four-wheeler while Jason went into the herd to grab the calf and run back to the four-wheeler. And I didn't have my video camera with me!!!!!!
Jason grabbed the baby, high-tailed it out of the herd, dove on the four-wheeler with a kicking, bawling calf in his arms, and away they went. I guess it was about time Jason let his inner-cowboy out into the daylight! Yeeee-ha!
Once in the corral Jason was able to entice the baby to take her bottle and she gulped down the whole thing. Poor little thing was so hungry and shaky.

I went over to check on her this morning. She is awfully skinny but still strong.

She bawls a lot but the bull (this is R.B.--yep, pronounced "Arby") is in a pen right next to her and he was answering her crying with gentle "moos" and touching noses with her through the fence.
I had to fight with her for about half an hour trying to get her to take milk. She doesn't like the bottle and tries to push it out of her mouth.



Tommy the cat, on the other hand, loved the milk and positioned himself right under the calf's mouth so any milk spilling from the bottle was all his!


Finally little Annie decided to take the bottle and gulped it down. I found that stroking her cheeks seemed to help her latch on to the bottle better and settle down to eating. That's a trick I used to use on my own kids. ;)

Well then, the old psych training kicked in and I remembered the baby monkey experiments. The baby monkeys who had no mamas in the cage with them, just a bottle, died even though they received the same nutrition as the other monkeys who had a soft cloth mama to sit on in their cages.
Babies need mamas, they need love and affection. I watch my cow with her calf and they frequently touch noses, snuggle, and Shirley grooms Elvis all the time. Little Annie looked so sad and alone. At one point she even had a tear form and fall from her eye. Jason told me that cows don't cry but now I'm not so sure.

So I scratched her.

We play scratching games with the horses, just a good, all-over, 10 minute scratching session that seems to do a lot for the horses.
I figured I'd try it with Annie. At first she was a little nervous but she started relaxing and pretty soon she was standing right up against my leg, leaning against it. Then her little head turned a bit and she rested it across my leg and just snuggled in and I could feel her whole body relax against me.
She is a sweetheart and I have always found it fun to play with the babies. Gotta love the babies! :)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The COOLEST commercial ever!!!!!

Out of the mouth of babes

A Nun asked her class to write notes to God.
Here are some they handed in:

Dear God :

I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset You made on Tuesday. That was cool.


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Dear God :

Maybe Cain and Abel would not have killed each other if they had their own rooms. That's what my Mom did for me and my brother.


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Dear God:

If You watch me in church on Sunday, I'll show You my new shoes.


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Dear God :

I bet it is very hard to love everyone in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I'm having a hard time loving all of them.


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Dear God :

Are You really invisible or is it just a trick?


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Dear God:

Is it true my father won't get into heaven if he uses his bowling words in the house?


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Dear God:

Did You mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?


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Dear God:

Who draws the lines around the countries?


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Dear God :

I went to this wedding and they kissed right in the church. Is that OK?


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Dear God:

Did You really mean "do unto others as they do unto you"? Because if You did, then I'm going to get my brother good.


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Dear God:

Thank You for the baby brother, but I think you got confused because what I prayed for was a puppy.


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Dear God:

Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up.


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Dear God:

You don't have to worry about me; I always look both ways.


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Dear God :

I think about You sometimes, even when I'm not praying.


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Dear God:

Of all the people who worked for You, I like Noah and David the best.


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Dear God:

I would like to live 900 years just like the guy in the Bible.


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Dear God :

We read Thomas Edison made light. But in Sunday school they said You did it. So, I bet he stole Your idea.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Squishies!

I've spent the last couple of mornings in my kitchen squishing elderberries.
As my shoulders and arms get tired and I look down to see my lovely purple hands, clothes, sink, counters, etc., I begin to question myself on the intelligence of such an endeavour.
Really, what's so great about these little buggers afterall?! They look like caviar on a stick!
Wouldn't it be easier to grab a box of chocolates and go curl up on the couch with a good book?

Oh you betcha!

But I have personally seen the results of using elderberry in my family. Beside being a berry growing in abundance (free food!) all around here, it makes nice tasty jams and syrups. But the real kicker, and why I have spent so many hours in my kitchen squishing the little buggers is the effect I have seen elderberry have on viruses.
We see the panic in the media right now about the upcoming flu season and the threat of the swine flu--everyone running around trying to get a vaccine together and waiting for the fights to break out over who gets to be first in line and who gets left out in the cold.
I think back to a blurb I read in (of all things!) the LA Times last year...

Elderberry's mixed record

"February 18, 2008

ELDERBERRIES may make delicious, if uncommon, jams and pies -- but the jury's still out on whether they can cure the flu.

The number of proprietary elderberry products on the market has slowly grown in recent years, particularly in Europe. The berries contain high levels of vitamin C and flavonoids, plant pigment compounds that have shown antimicrobial activity in the lab. In the 1990s, Israeli researchers produced findings suggesting that the plant fought germs in humans too.

In one study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 1995, people living in an Israeli commune during a flu outbreak in 1993 were given either four tablespoons of a proprietary elderberry extract, Sambucol, or the same amount of a placebo syrup daily for three days. Both groups came down with the flu -- but those who took the elderberry product recovered within two days, while the others recovered in six.

In 1999, the researchers tested the product during a flu outbreak in Norway. This time, the elderberry-treated group recovered in half the time it took the placebo group to recover: three to four days compared with seven to eight. The results were published in the Journal of International Medical Research in 2004.

In the U.S., Sambucol is sold in stores by supplement maker Nature's Way. A number of copycat elderberry products are appearing on shelves, claiming that elderberry coats flu viruses to stop them from infecting cells. But there's no evidence to back this up, and only Sambucol's patented formula has been put to the test.

Though Sambucol touts itself as an immune booster (the company's promotional materials suggest taking it daily), it's only been studied in outbreaks, and there's no evidence that it can prevent flu infection."
http://articles.latimes.com/2008/feb/18/health/he-elderberry18


I find it funny that our researchers turn their noses up because elderberry isn't actually "curing" the flu. It only cuts the duration of the flu in half. But it doesn't cure it so bleh. Um, yeah. There's such a wealth of drug products on the market that lessen the duration of the flu...
Gotta love 'em!
I have seen elderberry clear the Epstein-Barr virus from my son after he had a chronic infection with it post-transplant.
Last winter we braced for the flu season as it seems like all the kids at school are virus-ridden all through the winter months out here. My kids went off to school with their little brown-bag lunches containing their peanut butter and ELDERBERRY jelly sandwich. When the kids got home, if they showed even the tinest sign of sniffles or watery eyes or redness in the skin, they got a good dose of elderberry concentrate as well.
It was interesting to see all the children around my kids dropping like flies to every little illness that came along while my kids were ticked because they had to keep going to school and didn't get to be sick.
Even my son who takes drugs to suppress his immune system stayed strong and healthy while half his class was out sick for almost a week.
A couple of times the kids did start to run fevers. I would never say elderberry is a cure or a miracle potion. But at first sign of illness, the kiddos got dosed heavily and were recovered within a day or two.
Personally, at first sign of a sore throat or just not feeling "right" I start dosing and often that is the extent of the illness and I can keep going and functioning like a mom needs to. This is much better and certainly different from years previous before I began using elderberry in my family.
Well, I got get back to my squishing now, but the next time you get the sniffles, or your throat feels a little scratchy you might just wish you lived in Missouri down the street from elderberry row! ;)

Oh, and for you smart people who do live in Missouri and can get your hands on the elderberries, here's a whole list of things you can do with them:
"What To Do With Elderberries"