Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 38

The identical twin boys arrived right before midnight on Tuesday.   They are doing great, but are spending a little time in the NICU to gain strength in nursing.  They arrived a day short of 36 weeks old and Liam weighed in at 6 lbs, Maddox 5 lbs. 13 oz. , big boys for their age.   I'm having fun taking care of my grandson Zane, while his mom and dad go back and forth to the hospital.  
At 16 months of age, he doesn't have any idea that he now has brothers.   

Mark came down for a long weekend because, (drumroll please),  we got significant rain at the ranch and it was too wet to work in the dirt.  
His boss/friend took over all the animal tending so Mark could come.   It was great.   Mark also brought a trailer and was able to buy a load of hay from of his brothers.  Win. Win. Win. 

Last night I shot this while driving to visit some nearby family.  They received rain down here too and everyone is happy, happy, happy.  Hopefully it keeps coming to dry California.  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 37

I'm back blogging with one finger on my phone because I drove south yesterday.  Here is a photo from the Richmond Bridge in the Bay Area.  


I'm at my oldest son's house waiting for his identical twin sons' birth.   The doctor said it could be any day!!!   My daughter in law is doing great.  I am amazed at her good attitude even though she has to waddle around and spend most of her day in bed.   I'm having a nice time with this little man.


Mark's at home feeding calves, cows, chickens and pigs. He'll have to get up extra early on the weekdays to make it to his job on time.   He practiced this morning and sent me this photo.


The bottle fed calves are doing well, but growing at very different speeds.  They started at about the same size but Sassy is outgrowing Coal rapidly.   It's probably because her mama is doing better and lets her nurse what little milk she has.  


We had a little excitement this week in a marijuana bust on a neighboring property.
I can't find a link button on this limited phone ap, but you can google it: Salmon Creek, Ca.  marijuana bust.    I could see 3 of the greenhouses, but the 2 larger ones were more hidden from us.   I was surprised at how big they were.  We didn't know these neighbors, as they were new, but they were quiet.  Mark would joke and say they were maybe growing tomatoes, but sometimes the marijuana smell was quite strong.

Well, that's about it for our week.  By this time next week, we will be the proud grandparents of 5 grandsons.  

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

Sassy