As I drove the 12 miles to the farm early this morning, it was very apparent that I was the only living soul on the roads. I am probably the only farmer who commutes the greatest distance, as all the other farmers in this county live right at their farms. I wish I did too. As I drove I hoped the roads were not icier at the higher elevation I had to go to. Black ice has caused a lot of vehicles to go off the road the last 2 weeks, a friend of mine being the latest whiplash victim. On my long cautious drive I thought about a few changes I am going to make in my life and how I am going to survive another freezing cold winter in the ancient house I am renting. It's impossible to stay warm here as the wind blows the paintings off the walls. Most likely I will have to move and my cows will have to come with me. Now I just have to find a farmer willing to lease me a barn and some land. Hard to find decent housing for good cattle at an affordable price. Another Mission Impossible task, but it gives me something to think about as the worse of the storm heads this way in a few hours. All the New Hampshire Red Cross Disaster Teams ( DATs) are ready to go, if needed.
I did my chores at the farm and kissed my cows, fixed some fences, threatened a few fence jumping heifers and made sure there was sufficient hay for another 2 days of cow contentment.
This is what greeted me this morning;
This is Greta, the apple addict, munching on a 800 lb roll of hay. Greta always checks ALL my pockets when she sees me..just incase I might have one of those delicious red orbs that she sooooo loves to eat. Keep in mind there are no 12 step programs for apple eating cows. I know this because I actually looked for a 12 step program because of Greta. This is "the apple look."
Dear Greta, had an almost fatal incident last year when she parked herself under a wild apple tree behind one of the large fields last September and ate her self drunk with apples for 12 hours straight. Luckily, I was checking the herd and noticed she was missing and went looking for her. My throat was in my chest as I painfully imagined why she was missing from the herd. I always worry about poachers and unemployed hunters who are now seriously looking for ways to feed their families in this economy. Other livestock farmers are having serious problems with missing animals, because of this horrible recession, all over the nation. I didn't want my cow to be yet another economic victim. I drove all over the 3 vast fields the cows were in. I looked in the woods and called her name ( my cows come when called ). I saw a flock of turkeys running in the opposite direction and drove down a steep hill towards that area...just as I saw Greta coming out of the woods--walking and falling down...and then trying to get up. I got sick to my stomach instantly as I thought she had been shot. I made my truck drive over a small ledge of rock to get to her. I jumped out and ran to my 4 year old big red cow. I didn't see any blood as she lay there. I helped her get up and she took 4 steps and fell down again. She then struggled to stand up and was wobbling, but still up. No sign of blood anywhere on her and now I am thinking Listeriosis--the circling disease. Oh God, No. Just as I start phoning my vet, Greta belches and almost knocks me down with her alcohol smelling breath. I looked at her in disbelief. There are no apple trees all the way out here near the woods. Or is there one that I don't know about ? I followed her cow tracks backwards to find she had been stumbling around in the woods for a long time--hours. Sure enough, after 20 minutes of tracking I found "the tree" and it was too obvious that Greta had even climbed on a big rock to get apples that were higher up as well. Cows can die from eating too many apples, it has happened before at other nearby farms. I rushed back to Greta who was again sprawled out in the field. I got her head heading in the right direction so she could breathe and I moved my truck near her to provide some cool shade. My vet gave me a few tips to help her "dry out." I took a nap right next to her as she continued to belch every 20 minutes. After 6 hours of laying down she was able to stand and walk a little. I called the herd and they came to her and her mom gave her a bath. It was getting dark and I needed to go home. I was confident that Greta would be fine the next day. She was, with blood shot eyes and just a little wobbly and with diarehea, but much better than the near paralysis she had shown when I found her. I came back with a roll of barbed wire and fenced her butt out of that part of the woods and that tree that made her so drunk. And so dear friends you now know the real story behind that constantly happy face of Greta's. Thank goodness she can't drive.
Happy Moo Year.