Thursday, April 30, 2009

"The Plan"

Spring is in full bloom. I keep finding beautiful unusual flowers in hidden places.
The next 3 days are important ones. My dog is with the dogsitter, the cows have a cowsitter. And the twins have an attentive "dad" looking after them. Its been a busy week and 12 months in the planning. I hope everything goes as planned. It is such an important event. One of a kind. A labor of necessity and passion.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Joy in Mudville

Finally, Wilma is able to nurse the twins. The vet came again last night and gave her mega antibiotics to get rid of her horrid uterine infection. At 9 am, this is what I found as I opened the back door to the barnyard. I was all smiles. The larger twin, WHISPER, still drank 3 quarts of milk replacer and the smaller twin, WIDGET, didn't want any. So guess who is stealing all of moms milk. I pray that Wilma's milk will increase as the antibiotics take affect. I am still a nurse maid to the twins twice a day. They both come a running when they hear my voice. Its really funny to witness our routine.
I just want Wilma to get better. Its been 2 weeks today since she surprised me with 2 wet calves. Its been a struggle to keep all 3 of them alive and healthy. Well worth it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Had a Dream

An overwhelming performance.

The voice, the words, the music.

Wednesday Adventure

The sun came up and the thermometer rose this morning to 48 degrees. NO WIND.
The twins are out in the field now with their mom running around and coming to be fed when I call them. No new calves today and it looks like it might be a few days before the 2nd group of cows start calving. It's a perfect day to go fishing. Ironically , I found a really great spot the day I had to drive 15 miles to go to a new vets place to get drugs for the sick calf. The vet said he catches brownies there by the dozen. I couldn't get there fast enough today. This part of the Williams River is in a remote area and runs under one of the longest covered bridges in the region. The views and the wildlife are spectacular. Lots of mountains in the distance, the sound of rushing water, deep pools of clear water teaming with aquatic life and the distinctive sound of song birds in all directions makes for a one of a kind experience. Additionally, ducks of all breeds and creeds, use the river as a runway to go from one area to the other. They fly under the bridge going 60 mph in groups of 2, 4 & 6. I sat on the embankment and drank in the heat from the sun, the smell of the crystal clear water and the clean air. How lucky I am. I met several interesting hikers, fishermen and one very bold trout. The temperature of the water was 44 degrees, which is not suppose to be conducive to catching trout. However, I had a trout hooked on within a few moments of tossing my line in. It gave me a very nice fight until he jumped off. Some hikers pointed out an even better spot to go catch some larger fish and I will try that tomorrow after I feed the twins. Did I mention that I Catch, Kiss & Release all the fish I catch ? Great fish shouldn't be caught just once~!

Easter Sunday

I saw the Sunrise on Sunday, but it didnt last long. It was freezing and windy and very dangerous weather. 20 degrees at 7 am. With the wind chill, it was much colder. I raced to the barn. I had put the twins and their mom in a horse stall, so they would be easy to observe and feed.I ran past the horse barn and out to the filed, The mud was frozen and hurt my ankles and legs to walk on it. Again, I saw a cow walking in a restless manner and knew she also was going to have a calf within a hour or so. Plenty of time to feed the twins, clean the stall, feed the cats and put bedding in the barn. Or so I thought. I checked the calves that were born on Saturday and was very happy to see that they were all in the cow barn. I put bedding down and moved some of them to dryer areas. The sick calf had made a complete recovery thanks to THREE veterinarians and some very strong drugs. It was now that I noticed that she had "lipstick" markings that made her look like she was perpetually smiling. It does a heart good to see a calf recover from deaths door so completely. She has been running and kicking up her rear legs and jumping over all the mud mongols. I take my responsibilities as a caretaker very seriously. I know I get too emotional about these animals. But it is hard not to. Once calving season starts, I get caught up in it. I have no time for much else. Today was again proof that I cant plan anything until all the calves are born and taken care of. As the morning wore on and the winds got colder and stronger, my favorite cow went into strong labor at the farthest end of a very wet, muddy, freezing cold field. My 4 layers of clothing were no match for the bitter cold.
I waited. I went down to the stream area and checked on her every 20 minutes and fought the wind to get back to the barn. Maybe it wasn't a good day to go fishing. At 11:45 am a 95 lb calf was born and now the dilemma of how I was going to drag the calf in the sled that great distance in a quick manner before we all got sick. I had noone that I could call for help. It took me an hour to get her to the barn. A friend arrived just as I made the last exhausting effort to drag the sled the last 15 feet. He helped me dry her off and tag her and weigh her. I stayed with her until 2 pm when I became so cold I was shaking. I went to find something hot to drink and dry clothes. When I returned at 4 pm I found yet another surprise in the field. This wonderful heifer showed no indication of having a calf that particular day. I had seen her as I walked out of the barn at 2 pm and she was chewing her cud and content to be out of the wind. She had her calf within 100 yards of the barn. Her calf was only 80 lbs and would fit in the sled easier and wouldn't be as heavy. Now I prayed I had the strength to get him to the barn. As I approached the new mom and son, he stood up and started an unsteady walk. I guided him in the direction of the barn while his mother mooed gently and pushed us both along. We made it to the barn in 12 minutes~! What a relief~! I colapsed in the hay beside him. I watched as she washed him and nudged him over to her udder for his first drink of lucious, life giving colostrum milk. Wish I had some. I was worn out and I still had to feed the twins and their mom. Maybe tomorrow I could go fishing.... I went home elated and exhausted and watched this video and have been humming it ever since~!

April Rains Bring Mud & Calves

Its hard to Go Fish'n when there are cows about to calve. Two have been born every day since 3/30. Having anticipated trout season for several weeks, I have been cleaning out my old tackleboxes, sorting through all the stuff that I have collected and traded for and putting all my fishing tackle in just ONE box. I put my 2 rods and "THE" box in my troutmobile on Friday. I was hoping to drop a line in a few new spots, I had found this winter, first thing Saturday morning. However, as I checked the herd, I found cows in labor. This always makes me smile. The day was freezing and very windy--risky for new born calves to get hyperthermia and get pneumonia. Already experienced that last week when I found a calf born out in the rain, wind & mud in the early morning. So, Saturday I stayed the day and welcomed 2 new calves into the world and got them dragged up to the barn in the "Blue Cab Express." I rubbed them dry and covered them with hay, out of the wind. It makes a BIG difference between having a live calf and a dead one. Last week it rained for 6 days in a row. I found calves in trouble, every morning. One morning I had the shock of the year: TWINS. Their first photo is below. The mom and the 2 calves were huddled on the only piece of hay that was above the mud and rain puddles. Took me 2 hours to get the entire family into the barn, warm and dry. It is usually a miracle to have twins born without complications and everyone alive and kicking. However, there is a complication with this group-- the mom has NO MILK. The photo above shows exactly when I discovered that there was a problem, as the kids were frantic for milk the day after they were born. So, I have been the mom 3 times a day feeding the twins. I have a routine every morning. Bring hot water and cold water to the barn to mix their milk replacer in 2 gigantic bottles to feed them and then check the herd. Saturday morning it was obvious that cows needed some assistance. However, I hoped that after feeding the twins on Easter Sunday then I could go fishing.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dad's Day

A day of surprises, a day of hope.
Wilma had TWINS in the rain/snow/sleet/wind this morning. Both of them girls. The white faced girl #10 is 90 lbs and the red spotted face gal #11 is 78 lbs. Unexpectedly, my friend Dave stopped by and helped me put bedding in the barn to keep the calves warm. Then the sun came out for 20 minutes~! First time in 6 days I have seen it. Gay marriage also passed in Montpelier this morning regardless of Gov Jim Douglas's veto of it yesterday. Late this afternoon I came home to find a custom made fishing rod and reel in my kitchen, with MY nickname engraved on it. WOW, what a day!

Monday, April 6, 2009

New Faces

I calll them the "New Boyz in the Barn." Three new calves, 2 born today in the torential downpour. I got them all into the barn and gave them red earings so we could tell them apart. Number 7 & 8 weighed 95 lbs each. The youngest #9, weighed a whopping 102 pounds~! FIVE days of rain have made the roads almost impassable. 3 more days of rain coming. The next calves will have to be born with water wings and scuba masks.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Beavers, Mud & God

Beaver Lodge by the trout stream. They built a dam, but 4 days of rain and melting snow washed it out. Birds are building nests, foxes are running all over the place. Time to plant lettuce. Mud is deeper and thicker. Easter sunrise mass is coming up soon. Trust in God, but take your boots~!!