On my way to church I pulled over on the gravel road and pulled out my binoculars to try to count my cows grazing way up in a remote field. The count remained the same: No new calves and the same number of very pregnant cows. Nothing had changed. On my way back from church I repeated the same process. Scanning the horizon for cows off by themselves or a new face in the grass. Nothing.
I headed for home and a very anticipated lunch with great friends and family.
A familiar vehicle was in the driveway when I arrived.
My best village friend was in the kitchen chatting up a storm. She is almost 96 and an author of a favorite newspaper column about her memories of the past almost 100 years. She is coming out with a book this year and I have been taking some photos to include with her stories. As she sat talking, I snapped a beautiful portrait of her, surrounded by colorful flowers and with a sunny glow on her face.
I few moments later she slumped in the chair and was unresponsive.
The Lifeline button was around her neck and I pressed it......... 9 times. 3 minutes later I got a response.
Was no one on duty? Help would be sent, I was assured. The hospital is about 4 minutes away and the fire department is closer. 15 critical minutes went by and no ambulance was there yet. My friend stopped breathing several times. I continued to press the Lifeline button six more times and I was a bit stern when I finally got a response 2 minutes later. I told the operator that "things were ugly here and help better arrive soon." By now my friend had no color, no pulse and was soaked in sweat. I was soaked too, as I gently held her in her chair and made sure her windpipe was open and allowing for air flow.
15 long arduous minutes later the ambulance arrived with 2 EMT s who came in the door asking lots of questions about medical directives.
Eight minutes after their arrival the front yard was full of men, gurneys and others who must of gotten the second call out, plus lots of neighbors driving by who pulled over out of concern. The field, road, lawn, yard and driveway were full of vehicles and people. Half the town was here now. Most of them volunteer firefighters, who were also local farmers who were out plowing their fields when they got "the call." They all know her and they all came a running.
My dear friend was given oxygen and an injection of something to jolt her heart into action.
Our plan was to carry her out in her walker chair, but as we rolled her out the kitchen to the mud room/laundry room another plan was hatched. Swiftly, all the people waiting in the next room transferred her from her chair to a waiting gurney. There must of been 14 people in the laundry room PLUS the gurney! I will never forget that sight!
As they rolled her down the bumpy ramp to the yard, she awoke. They whisked her to the ambulance and away she went. Within an hour we learned she needed a pacemaker....or her heart meds were out of whack and needed adjustment. She was awake and talking and we could visit her later in the afternoon after more hospital tests were completed
The rest of us continued our plans to upgrade the chicken coop with some latches, shingles and perch adjustments. The parts for the future chicken tractor were unloaded and labeled.
The afternoon weather was sunshine and torrents of rain every 40 minutes. No rainbows. Just sudden storms that rolled in quickly and then came by again. The hardy group of helpers continued their work tasks as the clouds came and went.
The chickens, however, did not like the rain or the thunder. They ran into the coop for every storm episode. The ducks stayed out and enjoyed the rain and the small swarms of bugs that came before it.
The parts for the chicken tractor were put in the garage and as much as possible was pieced together.
This project will be continued at a later date.
We all wanted to go to the hospital to visit with our friend and bring her some needed necessities to make it through the night: reading materials, desserts plus pen and paper to continue her writing.
She does have deadlines she must meet!
After our visits, we all headed home.
I sat on the porch stairs as the sun went down, for a few minutes of relief just as a neighbor drove in to tell me one of my cows had just dropped a calf in a new field.
I raced out of the driveway and drove down to where my cows had wandered out of the remote field to one not as far from the main farm.
Sure enough, in the hillside drainage ditch was a brand new calf, with the membrane still on him. He was in mud up to his ears.
In my church clothes, I dragged him out of the mud and back up a hill to the grass. He felt like he was 150 lbs. I had mud and muck from my head to toe. My red shirt was manure mud brown. I returned to my vehicle to get ear tags, bands, weight tape and rags to clean him, and me up a bit. It was almost dark, so I didn't bother with the camera. I should of brought a flashlight.
When I got back to where I had left him, he was gone . He had rolled down the hill, back into the drainage swamp and I had to go down and drag him out yet again! 75 feet straight up a steep Vermont hillside. I wondered if I was going to be in the hospital bed beside my friend.....
I dragged him, by his front legs to a dry, level area where I hoped he could not luge back down the muddy ditch back into the swamp. I collapsed on the grass beside him and wondered if anyone would ever find me. I craved an IBC rootbeer in the worse way. After a few minutes of rest, I tagged him in the dark, banded him and taped him at 109 pounds (probably includes a few pounds of mud).
His mom and a few other cows teamed up and were giving him a thorough washing as I packed my stuff up to leave.
I covered my truck seat with an old grain bag to protect it from the crap I was covered in and drove home.
As I came in the door I was already peeling off my clothes and throwing them into the washing machine.
I streaked upstairs and took a shower just as my phone started ringing off the hook from other friends who had heard of the ambulance in the driveway. Everyone thought it was me that had been "taken out of the house" as they say it up here. I assured them it wasn't me, but that I could of used some oxygen after dragging that behemoth of a calf UP the muddy hill the second time!
Anyhow, the day ended on a good note. My dear friend was alive, a good strong, but muddy, calf had been born and I got to see and hear from lots of good friends.
The lesson learned was that thanks to a good First Aid/CPR class and a cool head I helped a friend survive a potentially life ending event. Please consider taking a First Aid class. Disaster can strike a friend or family member at any time. Its good to know what to do.
I am sorry mom that I did not phone you at our agreed time, but I was in a bit of a "situation." Thanks for being understanding and concerned for the well being of my friend, the new calf and the kind of stain remover I should use on my truck seat.
This morning I returned to find the cows in yet another field...but no new calf. I asked the farm owner to help me search for the big boy and the two of us walked the fields looking for possible hiding places.
Guess where we found him ? In the ditch, yet again. But dry and with a full belly this time.
We both had to work hard to get him up the hill, but at least it was 2 of us. Then we headed the calf down the long dirt road to the new field where his mom was. Took 20 minutes of concentration and direction but we all made it. With more mud on our clothes, of course.
Here is a shot of calf and mom reunited:
He is a BIG boy. Red angus/Hereford x
I love the double ring eyes and the long eye lashes.
Remind me never to ear tag a calf at night. These came out horrible.
He will forever have a head tilt....
The grass is green and lush from all the rain. Perfect for making milk for calves.
All the other calves came over to say howdy.
#6, Garrett is a handful. He never stops running. Reminds me of Forest Gump.
When I left the field the new calf was in a dry, flat area. There was no mud or swamp for 200 yards.
The only thing missing is a name for this boy.
His mom is Red Sox Faith. I try to keep the Red Sox theme going, since "Faith" is the reason the curse was broken and the Red Sox FINALLY won the World Series in 2004. Faith was born 4/4/04.
Her previous calves have been:
Fraconia (Terry Fraconia)
So, please be creative and help with some names.