Thursday, February 21, 2013

Getting There

Yes, yes, I know... I've blogged about basically nothing but my cow for just about a whole week now. I think we're all getting ready for this cow to get better so the blogging can get back to variety!

But for now y'all will just have to endure yet another update about 'ze bovine.

And that is that she's looking great today! :) At first she wasn't. I found her this morning, looking exactly the same as yesterday, and I drooped. The vet had said if she didn't look better by morning, then her chance of surviving was pretty much nil. So seeing her still gasping for breath was a blow; I was so sure I was going to lose my cow... But I wasn't going to lose her without a fight. The vet had used his entire bag of tricks on her, so now it was my turn to finish up my bag of tricks. And I had two weapons I wanted to use: Garlic, and cayenne pepper. These were my personal big guns.

Looking through my Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, (Have animals? Then you need this book. I have used mine so much over the last 7 years that it's all taped together, highlighted, dog-eared, and written in.) I found that the dosage for a Jersey cow with pneumonia was 8 heads of garlic a day, made into a ultra strong brew. The cayenne I just went on gut instinct, and decided to go with roughly 2 Tablespoons a day.

*checks amount of garlic in kitchen; finds half a head of it*

I had to dash to the market to buy 24 heads of garlic... You buy these by individuals here, so I felt rather funny counting out 2 dozen of them and then paying for them... The cashier looked at me like I sprouted a second head.

After getting the first brew ready, I went out to milk my sweet cow. It had been three months since I had used the milking machine and I was looking forward to it more than I can say. She was looking better by this time; her breathing had quieted, but I couldn't tell just how much better she might be feeling.

 Mattie knows the milking drill so well that I always simply halter her, swing the lead rope over her neck and let her walk her self to the milking stall. She stands there, waiting for me to tie her up and get the machine going. Today however, Mattie swerved to the right, towards the open door of freedom, instead of turning left into the milking parlor! She picked up her pace and trotted briskly right out the door, leaving me wondering what on earth just happened! Sick cow? You're telling me that's a sick cow that just went running out the door?

I laughed heartily and then sprinted after her. There's a first time for everything, and this was the first time I have EVER been so overjoyed to chase after a runaway cow! I caught her in short order, grinning the whole time at my cow who felt good enough to make a break for the wild blue 'yonder. She pranced and pawed at the end of her lead rope as I led her to the milking parlor. 

Milking time was as pleasurable as it always is. I absolutely adore it all... The vacuum pump is loud enough to drown out the sounds of the goats and Peaches, but not so loud that I can hear myself hum or think. Mattie stood like a rock, as always, despite her 3 month vacation she had just had. This cow may make me go gray from her health problems, but I can't complain in the least about her manners in the milking parlor (or anywhere else, for that matter). You won't find a better cow than her. 
I milked her out halfway, and then shut the machine off. Tomorrow I will milk her out 3/4's of the way, and then on Saturday she will be milked completely out. This keeps her from "coming into her milk" too quickly, and possibly making her have another bout of milk fever. Some animals will also go down and stay down in production if you milk them out all the way at the beginning, but it depends on each individual. 

Her colostrum was dumped into the road ditch outside the barn, and then I went inside to wash my equipment. I will continue to dump the milk into the ditch for the next 2-3 weeks, until the antibiotics are out of her system. 

By 4:30pm, the garlic brew was ready, so I went out and had the slobbery job of getting a whole pint of the stuff into the cow. She was not amused. For a cow who's been sick all week, she certainly had enough energy to fight the syringe! But accomplish the goal I did. Just don't ask how long it took, or how much cow slobber I had on me by the time I was done.

I went outside at 7:20pm to do evening barn chores and check on Mattie one more time. Wow. Is this the same cow as yesterday?? She was munching hay placidly; her breathing 100% normal. She looks awesome. Maybe the antibiotics are finally kicking in. Maybe the garlic brew had a better effect than I thought. Maybe all your prayers did the trick and made her better. Maybe it was all three. I'm inclined to think it's all three. :) I think we have a bit more to go before she's back to normal, but I am quite optimistic about her condition. I don't think I'm going to lose my cow. I may have lost the calf, but at least I still have the cow. Yesterday's situation could have been much worse...

Thank you all so, so, SO much for your prayers. :) You don't know how much it means to this farm girl and her cow. We're not at the end of this story yet, but I'm thinking I can see the last few chapters just ahead. I sure hope the last sentence goes, "And they lived happily, ever after..."

I happen to like stories that end like that.


Linda said...

Oh I am sooo happy for you! Although I am sorry you lost the calf :(

Illinois Lori said...

That's great news, Caitlyn! I bet you both smell terrific after the garlic-slobber...

Bryan shared some things with me about checking some stats about the bull you use to breed and things to know if this was Mattie's first calf...I asked him to put them in the comments tomorrow, I can't remember them! So he'll do that tomorrow.

We're enjoying some snow tonight, won't be too much, maybe 3 inches. Just enough to help the cold temps make sense and seem pretty!

Sleep well tonight, you've earned it, farm-girl!


Illinois Lori said...

Hi Caitlyn,
I'm Bryan, Loir's son. I hear you were at Polyface last winter also. too bad we were not selected.

If you decide to breed Mattie again sometime. You might want to look into the EPDs (Expected Progeny Differnce) of the bull you breed Mattie to. And focus on the birth wight EPD (You want a negative number, so you can have a smaller calf to make the birthing processes easier.) Here is a link about the basics of EPDs:

Hope this can help. Congratulations on saving Mattie! I am sorry about the little bull calf.

God bless,

Anonymous said...

That is wonderful!!! And I'm glad you wrote so much about Mattie, it was nice knowing what was going on. I'm so happy she is ok!!

Anonymous said...

I would recommend freezing the colostrum rather than dumping. It would have been possible to have lost your cow and had a calf that needed that. It does freeze well and could be used next year.

Karen Rickers said...

I love hearing about Mattie! Especially now that she's doing so much better. I must like happy endings as much as you do. :-D