Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 36

The sick cows are still alive. Number 38, the red cow,  is still sick. She is just beginning to recognize that she has a calf, but I was unable to get her udder functioning again.  I tried all week, but only got one quarter to work.  She will be culled after the waiting period is over  for the antibiotics we gave her.   The first cow we caught is much better overall, but she also lost an eye.  We have no idea how it happened.  Perhaps she got a splinter when she made us jump onto the wooden corrals or when she picked Mark up and dumped him in the water trough.  All we know is one eye is now opaque and blind.  She is nice again, but unfortunately she'll have to be culled as well.   Both calves nurse on her, but she doesn't have enough milk to sustain them, so we are still bottle feeding. 

Good thing is that I had help this week. 
You might remember her from a post about 4 years ago or perhaps you remember her from even farther back when she was a guest blogger.  Her family is  part of a Christian Meditation Center in Asia and they flew across the pond for a bit of a visit.  The time they spent here was wonderful.  Kenya, is my kindred, as she loves animals and loves the ranch.  Her face just glowed the whole time she was here. She told me that usually she wakes up twice in the morning, as she goes back to sleep after her first wake up.  Here, she said, she gets right up because she is so excited.  She beat me to the barn every day and fed all the animals and gentled some kittens  and a new group of piglets.  Seeing the place through her eyes renewed my love for it too. 

It was great having a house full of kids around as it gave me an excuse to go swimming,

groom horses, 
and ride them.
The oldest also got to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams of riding an ATV. 

The littlest was a bit too young for our many adventures, but he did seem to enjoy lots of little dog kisses,
and a sister kiss or two.
 I enjoyed remembering and experiencing the innocence of childhood this week.  I just had to drink a bit more coffee to keep up with it. 
Godspeed, dear friends. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Week 35

Week 35 was a helluva week.   I don't know where to start.    Not only had things been terribly, horribly wrong in the world at large, our little idyllic life has had a bump or two. 

Well, the cows are calving.  Bam, bam, bam.  Babies all over the place and we are in a drought.  Stage 5 drought and some of our stock ponds are mud holes for the first time and we have been setting up troughs and hauling water and trying to coax cows to new watering holes.  Cows are stubborn beasts.  They will keep going into a chest deep mud hole versus staying in an area they are less familiar with.    Big sigh.   We need more fencing. 

We noticed a little black, white face calf with a dull coat and sucked up flanks at our middle barn.  There was a bunch of cows milling around and a whole flock of little black calves, but none seemed to pay this little mite much mind.  We approached it and it came right over bawling for some food.  Oh dear.  An orphan.  

Drove back to our place and made up a bottle and drove back to middle barn and the little heifer just took right to it.  No fuss at all.  She decided we were here parents just like that.  We decided to keep her in the middle barn on the odd chance that her mama showed up.  She looked just like cow #6, so we had a good idea who had gone missing.  We suspected she died.  We searched around the barn in ever widening circles.  We drove all of the little roads near there.  Nothing.  

24 hours later and still no cow and no buzzards.  Making the 40 minute round trip from our house to the middle barn twice a day was wearing a little thin, so we hauled little 'sassy' to our home barn and settled into the idea of having a little one to tend too.  She really is a cutie.  Spunky, yet sweet.  

24 hours later and Mark found the cow.  She was in bad shape.  She showed up at the middle barn when he was feeding cows.  He drove back to our house and got me and her calf.  I was shocked when I saw her.   She had been a beautiful cow, now she looked like she had aged 10 years.  She was shivering.  She was sick.   Her eyes sunk in her head and all her ribs showed.      We got her into the corrals and she was all confused and kept trying to stagger us over.   She normally was an okay cow to handle.  Not now.  Her bag was humongous and I suspected mastitis had gone systemic.  After quite a lot of fuss (and a mini fight between Mark and I as we often disagree on how to handle the cattle) we got her into the chute and administered a broad spectrum antibiotic.  We gave some banamine too for inflammation, pain and fever.  I went to work on her udder trying to get some of the blood, milk, pus and blood out through one squeeze at a time.  2 quarters cleaned right up and a third looked so-so.  But the fourth one was a mess.  We had put her through enough, so we let her out and she completely ignored her calf.  She didn't try to kill it though, so we left them together in a small pen. 

Next morning Sassy came right for her bottle and drank it up quick.  I walked the short distance to the middle barn to get some hay for the mama cow and by the time I got back Sassy was going to town on the cow's 2 good quarters.    Yea.  They were back together. 

I had to go to town to pick us some more piglets so I also bought some mastitis medicine  that goes into each quarter through the teat.   The cow still was tough to get into the chute, but now we had her calf to use as bait.  Little Sassy would follow us and our bottle anywhere.  We are tricky that way.   Unfortunately,  the mama's udder wasn't clearing up like I hoped and she also still looked really sick and she had horrible runny, black diarrhea .   What was going on?

The next day , while driving around doing a cow and calf  check I found another sick cow.  #38.   She was a beautiful red angus, but just like #6, she now looked terrible.   Something was up.  This was not normal.  

Once at home I did an online search and discovered what we now think is the problem.  Acorn poisoning.  This isn't something we've ever had before and isn't something our previous herdsman Jerry had mentioned to us either.  We suspect that the drought is causing the oak trees to be stressed which is causing them to drop their acorns while still green which is causing our protein starved cows to eat them.  So, we got busy putting out some protein lick buckets and feeding more alfalfa.   The cows took to this like flies on honey. 

Unfortunately it took us 2 days to finally catch cow 38 and her calf.  The calf just had too much spunk in the beginning and we are not ropers. Both nights I worried that something would eat him during the night as his mom was not taking care of him.    Eventually, we got some other cows and calves into the thick wooded area they were in and the calf mingled with the others and we were basically able to get him to walk into the rope.  He was then very happy to get a bottle as his dam was not letting him nurse at all.  We carried him home in the backseat of the truck.

Later when it got cool, we went back and set up a portable catch pen for his very sick mama.  When we arrived she was actually stuck in a little dry creek bed. Luckily, she was able to stagger out after she gained some strength from resting.  I had been pretty much hand feeding her for two days so she followed me pretty easily and loaded like a pro.  She seemed to know we were helping, unlike #6, and didn't try to hurt us at all.   Last night I worked on her udder and it's bad too and she won't yet let her calf suckle much.  I'm hoping it improves as that would help the most. 

Cow #6 is finally pooping normal and is much more alert and docile (thank goodness).  This morning cow #38 was still in pretty bad shape.   I'm not feeding the calves their full amount hoping they will still want to nurse on their mama's as that should help the udder problem the most.   This is the first time we've dealt with this kind of situation, so I hope it works.  Any suggestions would be helpful.    I've read that a lot of cows die from acorn poisoning and if they live they don't utilize feed right and are uneconomical to keep.  Time will tell. 

It is kind of odd that both of these cows don't have names, as most of our cows do.  Perhaps this is just a stunt to get us to know them well enough to give them a fitting name. 

She like the car
milking crew

Bringing home calf #2

The calves first meeting


Monday, September 1, 2014

Week 34

Day In The Life:
I think it was last Wednesday.....

reading and journaling

feed the cats

turn out the hens and gather their eggs

scraps and pets for the pigs

exercise to a dvd

 breakfast of fresh scrambled eggs and veggies

domestic chores:  wash the dishes... my view

water and pick vegetables

lunch of quinou, veggies and fish

laundry and re-do farmers market board

make zucchini bread

Mark's home

landcruiser drive to the falls

drive back up the hill in the golden light

dinner of corn, green beans, rice pilaf, fried green tomatoes, pork chops and pickles


Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 33

Only 19 more weeks and the year will be over and I will go back to random posts and not this weekly post thingy.  I think I will enjoy looking back over the year, weekbyweek, but I find it difficult to make the posts somewhat meaningful.  It is likely to just turn into, 'I did this, we did that, yada, yada, yada.'

Well, the biggest highlight of this week was this little dog going backpacking with us.

 (I kind of hate that it usurps our photographer friend's visit.  But it did.  Check out his work here.  He travels the globe in search of beauty.)

Yep,  our girl Shadow takes the cake this week. (Not the pickles I made or the one new calf.)   Shadow is just so darn cute out on the trail.   It was her second time on an overnighter although we have taken her on countless day hikes. She loves to run and scale straight up huge granite rocks. She is tireless.  She is like a ninja with super power strength. 

She's always a good girl and returns quickly to a whistle, but most of the time she just jets ahead a bit and then comes back to check on us.  But not on Saturday.

I thought this was her last photo.  Ever!!!
Just after I shot this she went missing.  Disappeared.  I whistled after about a minute or two  of not seeing her on the trail.  And then whistled again, and again.  We hollered.  We listened.  Nada.   We looked for her little footprints and didn't find any up the trail.    Mark thought that maybe she ran off trail and got her collar or bandana snagged and couldn't make noise, or heaven forbid, was dead.  Choked to death or broke her neck.  Egads!  What a way to go.  
 We began searching the heavy brush besides the trail in the location  of her last footprints.  We searched and searched through the brambles.  My legs began to bleed, but I thought I heard her whimpering and continued on.  We must have looked pretty ridiculous to the group of guys that came by.  Mark told them our plight.  They said they'd keep an eye out for her on up the trail. 
We didn't think there was anyway she went on up the trail.  We have covered a lot of miles with this little dog and we trusted her.  We were convinced. She always came back.  We were sure if she did go ahead she would backtrack when she realized she lost us.  We kept looking , I cried a bit and realized it was a hopeless search.  After 2 hours of choking she would be dead and didn't need us anymore.   
Then a new thought entered my head.  What if she wasn't dead?  She would need us.  What if she did something unusual,  out of character?   What if she went ahead or went back to our previous night's camp?  Hope entered my heart and a plan was made. 
 Mark was to go ahead to the next lake and I began backtracking.   Our plan was to meet up at dark at the trail junction.   
One little dog in a huge wilderness.  I prayed for a little miracle.  Mark says he did the same, but he really thought she was a goner. 

It felt good to be doing something besides climbing through brush and I strided up the trail,  whistling periodically.  After about 30 minutes I hear someone calling my name and a sweat drenched Mark appears.  He met a man coming down from the lake  and Shadow was there howling like a coon dog.  
Mark and I both took off running back up the trail towards our little dog.  We wanted to hurry in case she left that place and ventured further into the unknown.  It was tough.  Mark quickly pulled ahead of me.  The trail climbed about 1000 feet in a couple miles and it was midday and hot. There was very little tree cover.  I had to keep reminding myself to drink little sips of water.  My shirt became drenched and I started worrying a bit about Mark.  Would he go too fast and get heat exhaustion? By the time I reached these sheer granite slabs I was moving at a crawl and decided to shoot a photo.  My adrenaline was depleted.
  I eventually reached a little stream and met up with the guys we met earlier.  They said they had seen her and tried to catch her, but she was freaked out and FAST! 
I kept following the rock cairns, on this trail that is labeled a scramble, and eventually came to the lake and found Mark and Shadow.  We were all exhausted and jumped into the lake with our clothes on.  And then we crashed. 

Mark told me how it took nearly 30 minutes for her to calm down enough to come to him.  She kept howling and hiding behind rocks.  I didn't even know she knew how to howl.  Mark sat still and talked softly and slowly she came closer, peeking around the boulders as she progressed.  Eventually, he said, she caught a good whiff of him and leaped joyfully into his lap giving him little dog kisses all over his face. 
Apparently our little dog isn't too smart and we gave her more freedom than she could handle. 
One couple camping at the lake, said she arrived at about the same time a bear and cubs did.  Perhaps she followed their scent trail, as we did see bear tracks along the way.  Perhaps she had difficulty following her scent trail back as she was wearing all 4 mutt luck booties for the first time.  We will never know.  We were just glad that we found her.  All's well that ends well.

And she spent the rest of our trip on a leash.  As her owner/friend it's my responsibility to watch out for the little simple minded, neurotic dear.  ( I always joke that we are twin sisters of different mothers.)   
 I just can't trust her to stay with us anymore.  I grieved that loss for a while hiking along some beautiful trail and thought about human relationships and how important it is to keep trust intact.  It is hard to rebuild  and never the same once its been broken. 
On another note, to add insult to injury. 
She got attacked by a big dog when we hiked out.  I kept her out of reach of the deadly jaws by swinging her around on the leash.  Eventually Mark flanked the dog and the owner told his dog that "her behavior was unacceptable".  Yea.  Right.  I told him to get a leash.   
 Then when we got home, Shadow jumped out of the car all giddy only to be attacked by one of the cats that had wandered in and had kittens while we were gone.  
The little dear spent most of today in our bed asleep.