Monday, 19 November 2012

A Tiny Calf

Last Thursday morning was chilly.  The frost was thick.  We were doing the morning chores when we noticed a newborn calf in the pasture.  It was just lying the frost...flat out.  It was so tiny.  I was sure that it was dead.  It had come a month too soon.  Grady went out and checked it.  He told me that it was still breathing.  I was shocked.

Grady took the tractor and fed a round bale to the cows.  That distracted the mother and she went to eat at the feeder.  I pulled the van up to the calf and we loaded it into the back.  I have nearly broken my back before lifting a newborn calf.  But not this time...this one was really small.  It was about the same size as our dog, Cleo.  The mother noticed us and came a chargin'....she's a real meal one.  But we made a break away.

We brought it home and put in in the back room on the heated floor.  We covered it in blankets and turned on the hair dryer.  Jack gave it a good rub and got it dried off.  It was laying flat out and it's nose was still cold....I figured it would be a miracle if it survived.

There was always someone checking on it.  Checking to see if it was still alive.  Talking to it.

I mixed up some powdered colostrum and I tried to tube it....I did that twice during the day.  But the tube thing was just too big.  It was meant for a big new born calf....not one the size of a dog.  I managed to get some colostrum into him but I made more of a mess than anything.

When Terry got home Thursday night he suggested we give him a bottle.  I knew that the calf nipple wouldn't work...that thing is huge.  Then I thought of the lamb nipple.  Luckily we have sheep ;)

It worked perfectly.  He drank a whole cup with the bottle.  And I got him to sit up nicely and I told him that we would be just fine.  He said, "BBBAAAA."  It shocked me.  He was really starting to look alive.

We went to bed and I heard him baaa a few times during the night but I just ignored him.  I knew he'd be fine until morning.

Then I awoke to find Jack standing beside my bed.  He said that the calf was trying to get up and he was hungry.  He was wondering if he could make it a bottle.  I looked at the clock.  It was 5am.  I told him to tear away and do what he wanted...but I wasn't getting up until 6am.

At 6am I came down the stairs and met Grady.  He told me that they had fed the calf and it was doing well.  Then he wished me a Happy Birthday.  I had was my Birthday!

The calf fed well that day.  I put it in the wagon and took it out to the horse stable.  I scrubbed the floor.

On Friday evening I was trying to get the kitchen cleaned and get ready to head out to the 4-H end of the year awards night.  I made up a bottle and sent Grady out to the horse stable to feed the calf.  He came in a few minutes later and said that it wouldn't drink.  Terry told him to bring it back into the was just too cold out there for it to be out for the night. 

Grady brought it into the back room and wrapped it up in the blankets again.  I offered it the bottle and it drank.  I guess it had become attached to me as I had spent most of the day with it.

Saturday morning Terry went over to the Cull's and got some colostrum that they had frozen.  It's good to have friends in the dairy business.

The calf fed well on Saturday and we put it outside for the day.  He walked around on the lawn and lay on the patio stones and watched all the action of the cats/dogs/cows/horses outside.  When I went outside he came walking over to me....his legs all wobbly.  It was as if he was trying to show me what he could do.....he looked so proud of himself!

Jack moved him up to the horse stable on Saturday evening and put him in with 3 spring lambs.  He said that the sheep didn't like him.  I told him not to worry...he'd be fine with the sheep...he wasn't coming back in the house!

I checked on him yesterday and it was quite funny....the sheep are scared of him!  They won't go near him at all.  But he's doing really well.

Jack and Grady are in charge of mixing up the bottles...he's on the milk replacer now.  I help out the boys when they need me and I'm the official bottle washer.

As for the mother....she hasn't even bawled for him.  She's just to mean to work with.  Normally we would reunite the mother and calf but not this time.  It would be too dangerous...both for us and the calf.  We will look after him.

Only trouble is....we can't agree on his name!


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