Last time I posted something here was before Thanksgiving. It was just two weeks ago but it feels like a month or more. Our Holstein calf is still hanging on. I can’t tell you how many times I thought the end was coming for him. We’ve given him baking soda, probiotics, B vitamin shots, electrolytes… you name it. Every day he continued to regurgitate this nasty acid from his stomach. Since we changed his feed to just Timothy and alfalfa pellets it (the regurge) comes up bright green.
One morning he’ll be sickly and is slow to get up, but by midday is grazing in the pasture like he’s never felt better. Other times he’ll be fine in the day but by the evening he’ll spike a fever. Last night his fever spiked again and he was clearly suffering from something. Hubby gave him LA200 and this morning our calf was alert and perky. And no fever. And- for the first time in weeks there was no regurge in his stall. We know better to think he is finally better, but this is a good sign. Like the title to this blog post- this is a roller coaster ride. One minute he is up, the next he is down.
In my last post I talked about our Holstein calf who has been sick on and off. We’ve fought upper respiratory infections and what we suspected to be wooden tongue. By the time we got the vet out- the wooden tongue seemed to have gone away (could be totally wrong about that diagnosis but he had all the signs)- but he was still sick. He was throwing up all his cud and it smelled bad. The vet listened to him with his stethoscope and said he couldn’t hear any rumen working in there. He diagnosed him with rumen acidosis. Basically his rumen’s PH was too low. It’s like acid reflux for us but for cattle it can be fatal.
We suspect we have fed him feed that’s too high in carbohydrates. (The vet tried to be nice about it but we know it’s our fault). All the sugar throws off the PH. Now we are feeding him a baking soda solution three times a day, an anti acid paste, a B-vitamin shot and an anti-inflammatory shot once a day. And- we are feeding him only timothy and alfalfa pellets (mostly timothy).
So far, so good. His eyes are brighter and he’s holding his head a little higher. He’s grazing out in the pasture more actively too. Before he would just lie or stand there doing very little. Last Friday he had a very high fever and now we have it back to normal. We’re crossing our fingers and saying prayers he is on the road to health. Others might have given up on him but we feel we have to give him a fighting chance. He’s not a pet but we can’t let him suffer. In the back of our minds we know this might not be the last of it- his getting sick. But we’re hopeful all the same.
Raising bottle fed calves is not a picnic. They make for cute photos and it’s cool to see them grow and act like babies do. But, when they get sick it’s heart wrenching. Our Holstein calf has been sickly since day one. I think the people that sold him to us knew he wasn’t totally healthy. The vet thinks he never got colostrum- I think he’s right. He’s had upper respiratory infections and now we think he has something akin to wooden tongue. He is so sad to look at. I can’t even take pictures because it is heartbreaking (featured image is from when he was feeling better).
The first time he got sick the vet warned us that bottle fed calves often don’t make it and to not get disheartened. I cried when my hubby relayed the message. Now I am accepting of the fact that he might not make it, or that we might even have to put him down. I just can’t stand to see him suffer. Just like any baby- human or furry- they can’t tell us what’s wrong.
I’m really hoping he is on the mend. We’ve been monitoring his temperature (never thought I would be taking rectal temps on a cow), and he has gone from a very high temp to only slightly elevated temp. We’re praying that is a good sign. He still looks awful. The vet is coming today. I’ll keep you posted…
I know, it’s been fall for a while now. But here in Tennessee we are really starting to see a change in scenery. These beautiful tree lined country roads are even more gorgeous with the reds and oranges. Above is a video I took driving home (I wasn’t driving no worries). I can’t love it enough.
I’m still unpacking so I can’t decorate as much as I would like for the autumn season- but I did finally find a little flag that says “Happy Fall Y’all”.
I don’t know why but it just makes me happy. Our big oak tree out back is starting to change colors- it’s going to be glorious.
The temps have dropped again. While I really don’t like the cold, I appreciate the reduction in bugs. We had a weird little warm spell last week which resulted in a spider and ant invasion. I’m not exaggerating when I say we had at least a hundred spiders get into our house this past week. Our mud room looked like a spider graveyard with all the dead stomped on spiders. We think a nest must have hatched on our back porch. And the ants! Good grief they wouldn’t stop. Luckily we managed to keep them out of our food but they did get into the puppies food bowl. I hate spraying bug killer in the house- but after the ant bait gel couldn’t keep up I ended spraying a little in the main entrance point in the kitchen. I guess in the spring when it starts warming up again and then when the heat and humidity return- I’ll have a big job on my hands to keep my house pest free. Welcome to the country right?
The above video was taken a few hours before his castration. If you read yesterday’s blog post https://ourlittlebigoakfarm.com/2017/11/06/so-we-castrated-our-bull-today/, you might be worried or are anxious to know how he is doing. The castration went well, but a few hours later he ate some plastic mesh that had made its way in the pasture somehow. Last night when we tried to give him his bottle he couldn’t drink because he was still trying to chew the plastic. I dreamed of him last night, about feeding him. This morning when I woke up was worried to see him in his stall still struggling with that plastic.
Good news! He is doing just fine, he was VERY hungry and sucked his bottle down in record time. CB said maybe he learned his lesson. After reading several stories on the web about cattle eating all kinds of junk- I am doubtful. But I am very grateful he is ok now. I have feeling I’ll have more stories to tell about his gastronomical delights.
*knock on wood he doesn’t do this again though
Don’t worry- this isn’t a play by play of the actual castration. I couldn’t give all the details anyway because I didn’t see it as I was holding his head. Hubby held the back end while our friend the cattle expert did the actual cutting. I was dismayed that none of our other friends had the “balls” to show up to help. (Sorry I know that was a terrible pun but I couldn’t resist).
I admit I didn’t want to help.
It’s not the actual cutting process and removal of the sacs that bothered me. I’ve taken anatomy so I’ve dissected cats and worked with human cadavers. I’m not bothered by that at all. But what I am wimpy about is causing pain. I really thought our bull calf would cry.
As it turns out, he kicked a little but otherwise took it like a champ. When we were done he was a little shaky and laid down a bit. When I went back to check on him he was up and about and ruminating. Our friend’s family has a cattle ranch and they do hundreds of these every year. The calves go back out in the pasture when they are done.
And there was no question it needed to be done. He was starting to get aggressive. This morning he was kicking around like a rodeo bull. CB got a little worried when he ran at her head on (she held up a wood board she happened to be holding to keep him back.). It was time, like it or not.
I was thinking yesterday about the fact that these calves we have are not pets. In a year or so they will be food. We really take for granted the fact we don’t have to raise our own meat (unless you are vegetarian). I am remember reading a few years back how Mark Zuckerberg set a goal of only eating the meat he killed himself. While I know that’s not feasible for everyone, I think that’s an excellent lesson in appreciating and understanding where our food comes from. There’s a joke where a silly girl writes to the commentary section of the paper and says it’s wrong to hunt- people should just buy their food from the store. While it’s a joke I really think we forget where our food comes from. We take it for granted that the cattle farms, chicken farms, pig farms, etc., are so willing to do the dirty work.
I’m not getting on my high horse and saying everyone should raise their own meat. I’ll be honest with you I am probably too much of a wimp to slaughter any animals. But I definitely am more conciseness about where my food comes from. And I appreciate the farmers who do all the dirty work. Where would we be without them?
So here is our Jersey calf right after the procedure. A few hours later he was back out in the pasture, hanging out with the other Holstein calf. I imagined the Holstein gave him some encouragement as he had already been castrated weeks back (not by us). Probably not really, but they do like to stick by each other. *smile
Now I will just worry a little about the stupid plastic mesh that somehow ended up in the yard. The Jersey calf ate it before we could grab it. Tonight he didn’t take a bottle, we could hear him regurgitating it over and over. I tried opening his mouth to get it out but that was a futile effort. Turns out that cows eat all kinds of stuff they shouldn’t all the time. We can do our best to keep everything clean but it happens. He’ll probably be fine but please say a little prayer he doesn’t get sick. I’ll keep you updated…
If you read my first post you’ll know we didn’t actually intend on starting an actual farm. It was more like- “we want some chickens and maybe some baby goats we can put pajamas on”. It all depended on the property would acquire.
I’ve always loved animals and thought it would be cool to have farm animals. But honestly I never thought past maybe getting chickens (or baby goats). I grew up in the city, but I feel like I’m a country girl at heart. Starting a farm just feels right. I’ll be honest- I can’t say how long we’ll be here. Hubby is either going to retire in two years or he will get promoted and stay in the Navy for a few more. My plan was for him to get stationed back in Japan after completing his tour here. But now I am truly torn- not that there is even that option. One thing I have learned with this Navy family life is that you never know where you’ll end up! We can plan we and can wish- but when it comes down to it- it all depends on the “needs of the Navy “. I say that without contempt- we signed up for this.
Sorry I went a little off topic. Here I am, this girl who loves the ocean and the mountains, the city AND the country- embracing the new hat of a farmers wife. I not disillusioned- I know this isn’t all Pinterest perfection. So far it has been stinky and dirty- and I’m ok with that. But it has also been awe inspiring and serene. I have had a very couple of years, to include the recent loss of my mother. I feel like God has led us here, that this was meant to BE. Better times are coming. Wait, scratch that- better times are HERE.