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May 21, 2014 | All In A Day's Work
It's not always easy
Farming has it's ups and downs. Some days are easier than others. A calf gets hurt and consequently sick, learn more about the care that goes into even the youngest of the herd.
May 21, 2014 | All In A Day's Work
It's not always easy
Farming has it's ups and downs. Some days are easier than others. A calf gets hurt and consequently sick, learn more about the care that goes into even the youngest of the herd.

The sun isn't even up yet and it's time to get ready for chores. After a cup of coffee and getting dressed, it's time for milking chores. We have just one that we milk in the morning now because she is producing more milk that her calf could ever drink. Charity is producing roughly 6 gallons of milk a day and her calf, Lucky will only consume a little over a gallon of that at this stage of her life about a week and a half old.

After maneuvering Charity and Lucky into the small paddock by the barn where she will be milked, I started toward the gate to close it. I got it almost latched when one of the other cows, who is in heat for the first time since calving decided to blast through the gate! After pushing me backwards and stomping on my foot, she continued to Lucky. She knocked her to the ground and started stepping on her.

After a short struggle, the crazed cow was removed from the paddock and I was able to assess the calf. She was suddenly uncoordinated and stumbling. I had seen the crazy cow step on her neck. I feared that she had a concussion and possible damage to her internal organs, along with potential damage to her esophagus or windpipe. 

After milking Charity, watching Lucky and finishing up my other chores I decided to leave the two of them separated into the lower paddocks. Lucky would have a better chance to rest and deal with her pain while her mother could keep a better eye on her. I went to the house after to do an assessment of my own injuries, more coffee and to share my updates with friends.

"Most people get scared over bulls...I am telling you right now that I think cows in heat are way more dangerous!" read the 7:30 am personal facebook post. My friend Tricia Park of Creekside Meadow Farm wrote back, "Yeah, I can agree on that one. Never will forget the first time my sweet wonderful calm family cow- Molly- tried to mount me. OMG. NOBODY tells you these things, well until today!"

**Cows in heat can become agitated and angry for no reason. They do things that they would never normally do. It is scary behavior and you always have to be on guard, no matter what attitude the animal normally displays.They are big, about 10 times our weight, so you can imagine the potentials.**

At about lunch time, Lucky took a turn for the worse. She was extremely weak and showing signs of potentially severe neurological trauma. She was wobbly and uncoordinated. The vet said that she had swelling in her esophagus, a broken rib, a possible concussion and could even have internal injuries. He gave her a 50/50 chance of survival. I'm a person who fully believes in the power of prayer, faith and hope and I reached out to all my friends and family on facebook once again. "I really dislike seeing animals in pain! Asking y'all for prayers for little Lucky. She's not doing so good right now."

I had been directed to give her a little aspirin, some antibiotics and to keep the electrolytes in her. I gave her the aspirin and made the judgement call to give her the antibiotics to assist with her recovery. I don't like giving drugs to myself or animals but I felt that it was worth the effort to make her comfortable and help her get better. I would do not different for myself or my children, if it was recommended. So I followed doctors orders and did everything within my power to make her comfortable.

By 6 pm, Lucky had gotten much, much worse. She was unresponsive and you could tell she was in pain. I prayed over and over, wishing for a miracle. I sent a text to another of my farming friends, expressing my grief and that I felt guilty over the whole thing. It came close to putting her down and suddenly, she opens her eyes and looks at you with this open soul bared behind her lashes. She wanted to fight but it hurt so bad. From that point, I did everything I could to make her comfortable and kept checking on her until 11:30 that night. I, honestly, did not expect to find her alive by morning.

I had held her head in my lap for hours, said so many prayers and cried my heart out. I felt such pain in my heart for her. I was at a loss for anything else I could do.

Lucky with her head on my lap, getting lots of love and attention, the evening of May 19th.

I needed a little sleep myself, so I slept until sometime around 2:30 am. I woke myself up gritting my teeth. Probably part of my fears and concerns. I grabbed a cup of coffee, thinking about walking to the barn with a heavy heart. I mentally prepared myself to find her gone. Each step was agony.

Upon stepping into the barn, much to my surprise, I have one set of beady little calf eyes looking at me. She was blinking and had one small tear hanging on the edge of her lower lid. I was elated but knew that I had lots of work ahead of me. I inspected her from the tip of her nose to her little tail. She was dehydrated, very sore in her neck and one side. Her breathing was very labored with puffs of pain on inhale and exhale. Upon getting to her tail, my heart broke. She was now pooping blood. Not just a little blood either. It was nothing but blood.

I made a snap decision to keep her off milk and treat her just like I would for a severe case of scours. Scours is diarrhea that is deadly to calves and can happen when they become dehydrated. I feared that I may have been too late. I mixed a powdered form of tetracycline directly into electrolytes. Since she wouldn't suck on the bottle or fingers and would only move her tongue with stimulation, off I went with a no-needle syringe body, I took a mason jar full of the electrolytes and antibiotics back to the barn. 

I needed all the intervention I could get now, so once again I reached out to facebook people. "It's now 3:28 am and I just came back inside from checking on Little Lucky. She is hanging in the but is really, really weak. Her poor momma is missing her but she needs the quiet of the barn where she's protected and safe from further injury. Thank you all for the prayers. We aren't out of the woods yet. I'm praying with all my heart. — feeling stressed."

At around 6 am, I was still working on getting that first jar of fluids into her. The vet stopped on the way through to see how we were doing. The advice was just as I had already been working on. A little aspirin every four to six hours for the pain, electrolytes only and the antibiotics. The vet was still not hopeful because she was making no attempts at taking fluids without major assistance. He did feel that the heavy breathing was from pain though, which was much better news than the expected pneumonia I was concerned about. It was also suggested to get a minimum of one pint of my mixture per hour into her system.

It seemed like everyone was following along via my facebook updates at this point. While sitting in the barn, I updated, "7:28 am: Lucky just got her second pint of electrolytes and antibiotics. She seems a little better. She seems more lucid of her surroundings. She is keeping her eyes open more and is trying to look around. Still super weak. Keep praying and keeping our fingers crossed!"  I had left her mother with her after the morning milking. Charity would go inside the barn every so often and lick her. Then she would go to her butt, smell and lift her nose all wrinkled up in the air. She was still pooping blood, still breathing hard but she was trying to pick her head up. She was also needing less stimulation for the fluids.

Every hour or so, I went to the barn to give her more to drink. A friend stopped in, I think her heart broke into a million little pieces when she saw how bad Lucky was. I felt bad but this is something that I can't/won't hide from anyone. It's part of what happens sometimes on farms, unfortunately.

As the morning went by, I could see signals of improvement. She started licking without stimulation, she was holding her head up more and more. After her noon feeding the report was as follows, "12:40 pm: Lucky is much more alert and is holding her head up, actually licking the electrolytes and was attempting to stand! With a little help, she stood for about a minute, bellered to her momma and decided that was enough! The road isn't over with yet but I think we just cleared a small hurdle. She is one blessed little girl to have so many people pulling for her and I know that God is hearing us. Thank you all so very, very much!"

At 2 pm, May 20th. Obviously feeling very sore. Her tears yank on my heart strings and I wish I could take it all away.

A little later, the status report read likes this: "2:05 pm update: She stood and was looking for water! Brought her in a dish and she slowly but surely started drinking it down. Still super weak and unsteady, needs a little help to stand up but she is really improving now. I'm sorry to overload on updates but this is really great news that I can't help but share! Keep up the prayers! (As for me, I'll get checked some other time. I don't want to see her regress back to where she was last night)"

"6:30 pm update: Lucky stood up (with help still) to drink her electrolytes and slammed some more water. Her eyes are no longer sunken (sign of dehydration in calves). She stayed on her feet a little longer and got MAD when she didn't get a bucket of milk! She even walked around to find a new place to lay! Her breathing is still labored and she still has a swollen spot in her neck. She is improving small steps at a time! Keep up all those good thoughts and prayers! I know they are helping!"

At 7:30 pm, she had a little milk (about a quart) from a bucket. She was still having issues swallowing and hanging her head. She still needed a little bit of help to stand. At this point, she could get her back end up but didn't have the strength or energy to lift from her front legs. 

Drinking her milk and egg mixture! The egg helps soothe the stomach, add protein and provides antibodies to &#qboost&#q the calves health.

I layed down about 8pm and I don't think I moved all night long. I awoke at 4:50 am. I threw my clothes on, grabbed a little coffee and out the door I went. Upon arriving in the barn, I was surprised and scared when I didn't find Lucky in the barn. Her mother stood looking out into the darkness in the doorway. Stepping outside, I couldn't believe it. There she was standing all on her own with just a little wobble to her legs. Her head was up in the air and her eyes were alert.

"5:17 AM: The update of a lifetime! Lucky is up on her own and was nursing! She is still weak and you can tell her neck is still bothering her but praise the Lord she is making an amazing recovery!
We are so blessed to have so many that not only prayed for her (and myself). Thank you all and I hope you all can feel a part of the reason for her recovery." came the morning report to my Facebook supporters.

Just after 6 am, I watched her nursing again and she was doing much better but still only getting in a couple of suckles before her throat started bothering her. She was determined though. Her mother was patient and loving her with little licks of encouragement. When Lucky laid down to rest, I decided to give her a couple hours and go check her again.

Up and nursing!

At 9 am, I found her laying in the tall grasses out in the pasture. No more labored breathing and she was getting up and down very well. As I knelt beside her, stroking her she decided to stand. She was much quicker getting to her feet but still a touch wobbly. She was much stronger and much more alert. I snapped this photo during those moments.

Back doing what our calves do: hanging out in the pasture!

As the day went on, she just gained strength and continued her trips to nurse. She drank lots of water. No more bloody poops. Not much wobbling anymore and less assistance for anything at all. She was nursing like crazy during chores around 6 pm. After chores were done and we watched her go across the pasture, I went inside to update facebook once again. "Lucky update: During chores tonight, she was found nursing on her mother for much longer periods of time. When chores were done and her mother headed to the grazing paddock....Guess who went running along! Yup, that's right Lucky!!!! She will still be monitored very closely but she is recovering great and doing very well! Again, thank you all so much for your continued support!"

The finally to the story comes after chores this morning. She drank so much milk that she has given herself a belly ache. She is eating well, grazing a little, and moving so much better. I'm overwhelmed at her recovery, the support that has been shown through it all and the power of prayer. I hope each and every person out there that said a prayer, offered their best wishes and encouraged both of us on know that they are as much part of this recovery as both Lucky and myself are.

I'm touched, humbled and amazed at the compassion and understanding that people indirectly involved have also shown. I've gotten hand shakes and thank you's from people I don't even know. I've been sent so many messages of well wishes and blessings. I'm honored to know that so many people out there in the world care as much as I do. I'm speechless and teared up with the overwhelming love I have felt from everyone over the past few days.

From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU to all!

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