Of Cows And Such
Poppy had her calf very early this year. Not early for calving. Just early for her. About a month earlier than usual. She has had an April calf ever since she started having them. This time she barely missed my birthday. I lively, lovely bull calf with white on his forehead. They were both doing great.
A couple of days later she was down. She was not getting up and was not even interested in trying to do so. We stood and looked at her pondering what to do. I tried our vet, she’s nearly impossible to get on weekends. I texted a friend to see if she had ever seen this. Her best guess was that Poppy’s back was out from calving paralyzing her. A common problem when a cow has a large calf, but they usually go down during calving and this was the smallest calf Poppy had ever had.
I finally got a hold of a different vet. He didn’t pause, didn’t think about it, he declared it to be milk fever. I doubted him. I’ve heard of an know about grass tetany, a phosphorous imbalance when a newly milking cow goes out on green grass. No, that isn’t what this is I said. Not that, he was starting to get impatient, why call and ask if you aren’t going to believe. Seriously people. This is different, she needs some medicine into her belly. The words were going fast. They were foreign to me and flowed out from between my ears like water unable to grasp them. But he would put what I needed out down at the clinic.
Amidst words of doubt and dislike for this particular vet I left to get the meds. They put plenty of doubt and worry into my head. I would ask the vet when I got there. Get my questions answered. When I got there three large bottles of liquid medicine, a rubber tube, and needles where hung by the mailbox out front. In a Walmart bag. By themselves. No vet to be seen.
I called again on the way home and asked again for exact directions. Where in the abdomen? How do I find the right spot? Just off the back, between the ribs and hip bone. He was disdainful. Why did I need so much help for such a simple undertaking?
At home we left the kids parked on the couch refusing to move and went back out to Poppy, still in the same spot, still not even trying to move. We took our time getting ready. Pondering the where and how of it. Then, saying a brief prayer as I knelt over her, I stuck the needle in. My patient husband handed me the tube. With a little fumbling we connected the two and started the medicine pouring, slowly, into her.
It seemed to take forever as we took turns standing with our arms in the air letting it pour down into her. Once it was finally empty we left her and went back to make sure our children were alive. They were.
I went back out to check on her a little later. No change. Again after supper. Still no change. I went ahead and gave her the last bottle, sure and confident now in the needle placement. Her calf was there now wanting his supper. I grabbed her flank and pulled as hard as I could, trying to give him better access. Together we were able to get something for him to get a hold of and he got a light supper. I went home, nothing else I could do for the night.
The next morning, afraid of what they would find, I waited anxiously for word of her. Soon enough it came. She was up! She was up and her calf was right there with her! Everything was alright.
A week later The Father-in-law stopped by. One of his cows was down. Did we have any of that medicine left? We didn’t, having poured a probably excess amount into Poppy. So the cycle was repeated. I ran to the vet. No vet involved but a receptionist that was quickly charmed by The Goblin Child. We got a good stock of the large bottles. Back home we went along to see the cow laying, trying much harder than Poppy to get up. She would get her legs under her and stagger forward then collapse again.
I stuck the needle in. My cow hating husband, patiently handed me the rubber hose and we put two bottles into her. By evening she was up and going. I see her in the pasture once in awhile and nod to her. Thinking that she doesn’t share the feeling of kinship I do, but still, hello. Glad to see you still up and going.