Anytime I think we may get a few minutes to get off the farm , I am quickly reminded otherwise. We had planned to take the Easter weekend to spend time catching up with family, and getting chores around the house taken care of. However, on Friday, a little calf decided she had some better plans. She decided to try to cross the creek in a muddy spot, and got all four of her legs stuck. We were re-seeding the pasture that night, so we spotted her fairly quickly. It just wasn't fast enough. It was hot that day, and the sun wasted no time taking its toll on her. She was pretty dehydrated when we found her, and she had completely exhausted herself trying to wriggle loose from the mud. Even after we freed her, she still couldn't stand or walk. She could hardly even lift her head. It's common for a cows legs to go numb if she hasn't moved in a while. It can actually be very dangerous, especially for larger cows, who can stumble, fall, and break something. Or worse yet, the numbness never goes away, and they can never stand again. That's why it is very important to get them up fast. We gave the vet a call, decided on a game plan, and went to work. We gave her an NSAID to reduce the inflammation and relieve any pain, and to encourage her to stand, as it causes them to just overall feel better. It had also been a while since she had eaten, and she was dehydrated from the sun, so we also gave her concentrated electrolytes.
You can see at the end of the video that she can't even upright herself. She is so tired that she struggles to even keep her head off the ground. We got 1 pint of electrolytes in her, and we had to leave for the first of the Easter celebrations. When we returned she seemed to be doing even worse, not even able to lift her head to suck her bottle. Luckily, with a little help, she was able to nurse another pint. In this video you can see that I have to actually open her mouth and insert the nipple for her to suck. I use my left hand to hold her head up, and to feel her throat with my fingers. It is easy for a sick calf to get choked on liquids when they are ill, so I use my fingers to feel if/when she begins to have trouble swallowing, and give her breaks as needed. Her mother also required some convincing that I wasn't up to no good! After a quick taste test, she gives her approval for me to take care of her baby.
When we went back to check on her the following day, she had improved greatly, and was attempting to stand. We stood her up, and helped her to get her balance. We hoped she would go to her mother to nurse, so we headed back to the truck to wait out the rainstorm. After a few minutes, she stumbled and fell right on her face. We stood her back up, and made our retreat once more. After several long minutes, she wobbled towards her mother, and was able to nurse. What a glorious sight to see.
We backed away slowly, being careful not to disturb them. The calf was shaking from her attempts at standing...but she was still upright. We left them for the night. This morning I caught them in their same spot, down by the creek. The calf was standing, but not moving. As I got closer to her, she started to walk after her mother. It was obvious she was feeling much better, and for the first time I thought she was in the clear.
650 lbs of seed potatoes also arrived last week. Seed potatoes are generally graded under a wide range of sizes, so they often require cutting before planting. We generally try to keep 2-3 eyes per seed piece, which makes some of the cuts rather tricky.
After we have finished, they go into a warm area with lots of bright light. This allows the cut side to dry out and heal over, protecting the seed piece from disease and rot after it is planted. The bright light causes the eyes to begin to grow, giving us a little head start...this process is called "chitting". Here they are after a few days, nearly ready to be planted.
In other news, the strawberries we recently planted are doing awesome. The red plastic seems to really make a difference.
We also managed to get our early tomatoes and cabbage transplanted.
The berry bushes I wrote about last week are also leafing out, and doing great.
Remember the hardening process I talked about last week? I told you the process was done to prevent sunburn. Here is a photo of a table that we tried to harden off too fast, and did the one thing we were trying to prevent. Luckily it was a mild burn, and did relatively little damage to the plants. If anything, it just added a couple of days to the hardening process.
You have to love the busy season. It will be over before we know it, and we will be left wishing for its return. I hope you all get to enjoy this beautiful weather while it is here.
Until next week,