An Udder Surprise

Dearest friends, please forgive me. My last post was extremely discouraging. We’re all in much better spirits, now. The spring has sprung, birds are singing, buds are opening, and everyone is feeling frisky. Jude has been in raptures over the many song birds we’ve seen (notably, the stunning mountain bluebird), Lucinda has been joyfully feeding lambs, and Elijah has been puttering around, “building” things with all kinds of found objects.

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Lucinda is growing older, if not strictly “up,” and is getting into trouble constantly. After a brief stint of sleeping all through the night, she is getting up constantly. I no longer nurse her in the wee hours, but I do go in to tell her, firmly, “Go back to sleep!” Last night, as I went to the irate child, she climbed out of her crib. I caught her, upside down, by her hips. I am not sure what to do with her, at this point, but I’m leaning toward taking everything out of her room and leaving only her mattress. I’d welcome any sage advice, on that front!

Things have been generally pleasant here, since my last post, but not dull. My dear, dear sister came for a beautiful, luxurious visit (she stayed the better part of a week), and she was followed by a short, two day visit from my parents, who just left this morning. (Thought it was a short visit, it was full and wonderful – we even took in an auction!)

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And, of course, last Sunday, we welcomed our first bovine to Barefoot Meadows. She’s a beautiful Dexter cow. It has been our hope that she’d be a good family milk cow, so Andrew named her “Galaxy” (because of the Milky Way, naturally!). She’s been gradually settling in, over the last week, but she’s been more anxious than I’d hoped. Yesterday morning, we found out why.

After my morning chores (which involve feeding and watering our chicks, feeding the lambs and moving them from their secure shed to their day pasture, and putting more hay out for Truffle and Galaxy), I returned home for breakfast. My parents, the kids and I all sat in the living room, admiring the horse and cow out in the field, and began making some plans for the day. Then, all of a sudden, my mother spotted a suspicious black lump on the ground. Then the lump stood up and went frisking off after its mama.

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Wow! We had a calf! We hadn’t been expecting one until the end of the month, or possibly early May (she’d been running with a bull, so no one really knew when she was due to calve!). What a surprise, that was! Thankfully, after much hand-wringing and careful observation, we confirmed that the calf was nursing. It looked like a little bull calf, but since Galaxy wouldn’t let anyone near, that was only a guess. All looked good, and I was very, very thankful that calving was such an easy adventure for us. Or so I thought.

This morning, again, after chores, we looked out and saw Galaxy stagger and fall to her knees. She struggled up and fell again. She lay there, in the field, and looked very bad. I found a number for a nearby vet and made the call, pleading with God, all the while, “Please not another one. Please, no.” I left a message, as it’s a Sunday, and waited, agonizing, for the vet to call back. My parents had just been packing up to head back home, but they decided to wait until after the vet arrived. They’re great at moral support, and I was thankful to have them stay a bit longer.

The vet arrived and diagnosed it as “milk fever.” The treatment is simple – intravenously flood the cow’s system with calcium. He told us that this is one of the worse cases he’d seen and that she was at death’s door. He also told us that milk fever is one of the few conditions the vet can treat and see immediate improvement, almost as if he had a magic wand. It’s true. After tying her up and treating her, the vet released her. She got back up on her feet and has been acting fine ever since. It was amazing. I am SO thankful for modern medicine.

In other news, while Galaxy was lying there, unable to move, I was able to get a really good look at her calf. Lo and behold, it was not a “Stewart,” like we’d thought. What we thought was a penis was just where the umbilical cord had been attached. It turns out that we have a little heifer calf, and I get to use the name I’d picked out – Buttercup. She’s ridiculously cute and curious. In fact, while her mama was still feeling a bit off, she ducked under the fence and went to visit Truffle. How confusing for Buttercup when there was no udder! We caught the little critter, and brought her back to Galaxy. Truffle was so good. He just stood there, while Buttercup nosed about under his legs, and put up with it. I think he and Buttercup will be buddies.

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Thank God for happy endings!

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