Sunday, February 16, 2014

When It Rains, It Pours

If you live here in the Sacramento Valley you already know, but if not: it rained.  It rained good.  

4 solid days of steady rain meant puddles that could be loosely classified as a small lakes in our backyard.  And grass!  Glorious, chartreuse, tender leaves of sweet baby grass.  Hallelujah!

On the heals of this weekend of magical water we all got sick.  Of course.  And not just kinda sorta sick. Oh no.  The kind of sick where you get in bed and figure you're not coming out.  Ever.  It started with baby boy who was sick all over me Friday night (isn't being a mom fun?) fast forward 2 days and I'm sick, that night Izzy is sick... I think you can see where this is going.

This meant that thanks to the rain and illness it was almost a week before I really spent some quality time with the animals.  I'm happy to report the calves are starting to fill out (they came to us so scrawny!) and the baby goats are growing and spunky as ever. However Maisy was sneezing at her milking Thursday night and her milk production was down.

In the dairy cow world this is a BIG red flag of doom.  After milking her I grabbed my trusty barn thermometer and took her temp: 103.1 which is on the high side of normal - think 100ish degree range for a human.  Not bad, but not great either.  With sneeze, runny nose and low production it definitely wasn't great news.  So I called the vet at 8:30am on Friday (as early as I felt was civilized).

"So I think my cow has a cold," I inform him "what should I do?"

"Cow's don't get colds.  They get pneumonia, then they die."

GULP.  Come again?

Turns out her cute little sneeze wasn't a sneeze, that's a cow coughing.  Cow coughing with low fever during damp cold weather is pretty much always pneumonia.  Which goes from nothing to write home about to a dead cow in about 3 seconds flat.  Great.

Off I sprint to the feed store for antibiotics and a syringe plus a call to Josh who agrees to leave work for a few minutes to help me stick the cow.  I tell the feed store guy I need to inject 40ccs into my cow and do they have a syringe for that?  They hand me THE BIGGEST SYRINGE I HAVE EVER SEEN and an 18 gauge needle tip.  Gulp again.  Time to put on my big girl panties.  Save my cow.  All of that.

Now here's where is gets fun.  We've done injections before, right after Maisy calved we had to give her some oxytocin to help her uterus contract fully and prevent prolapse.  It was a breeze.  She stood there still as stone and Josh filled her up with the meds, easy peasy.  So we were pretty confident it would go equally well this time.

Not. even. close.  I forgot to take into consideration the tired, sick, worn out nature of my sweet cow that day. Today she was awake, well fed, rested and not pleased to be crammed in a corner with a sharp object under her skin.  She bucked, pulled and shoved against us with all 800 pounds of her pissed off self.

The thick antibiotic was barely dripping out of the needle, which is not what you're going for when you have 40ccs to go.  We got 5ccs in her before giving up for the time being.  I took her temp again, back to normal at 101. (Phew.  Not likely to be a dead cow today.)  I returned to the feed store and bought a smaller syringe and came back home.  After carefully reading the medicine insert it turns out you don't want to give more than 10ccs in one spot.  Phew.  Glad we figured that out.  After dinner we tackled the waiting medicine and now incredibly skeptical cow.

With two halters on her and Josh practically laying on her flank I was able to grab a pinch of skin, jam the needle in and plunge the medicine.  Refill what now seems to be the world's smallest syringe (sob!).  Repeat 3. more. times.

Angels sang, clouds parted, I almost cried in relief.  It was over.

We quickly untied Maisy who was trying to choke herself on the halter and offered lots of oats and petting. I  milked her and let her go into the pasture where she stood far away from me and glared with her angry cow eyes.

48 hours later her symptoms are gone and a disgruntled though mostly healthy cow is wandering the pasture again. All is right with the farm.  Now if only the people would just get better, too...

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