No really, I do. She's due to calve any moment and while she's a very easy birther, she is prone to Milk Fever. If you've never heard of Milk Fever, I can tell you that it is easily one of the most frightening experiences in the life of a farmer, especially one who loves her animals. Described as "a derangement of calcium mobilization when the demands for calcium to the udder for milk outstrip the ability of the bones to release it," Milk Fever can quickly become fatal. I posted our first experience with Milk Fever here. I tend to watch Gjynni unceasingly. She tends to avoid me at all costs.
|Farmer in a Three Piece Suit - Must be Love|
Fast forward 24 hours. I was finishing my day at work, answering the phone, "Good afternoon, Silver Creek. This is Lisa."
"Mama - it's Zoe. Gjynni's down."
Numbers and office etiquette are gone from my mind. Jeff and Rae had left the farm for an event outside the County just a couple hours before. Zoe was home alone. Fortunately, Zoe will be a vet some day. "Has she had the calf?"
"Yeah, he's laying at the bottom of the hill. Mama, he's not breathing very well. Can you come home now?"
"Tell me what Gjynni is doing."
"She's laying with her head down hill. She's breathing very hard. Mama, can you come home right now?"
I'm on my way. My beautiful co-workers ask "Baby on the way?" No admonition that I still have 10 minutes to work, no suggestion that perhaps we just let Nature have her way. Thank you Tracy and Cissy and Silver Creek.
At home, Gjynni is laying with her legs stretched out up the hill. I call the vet while I run for the pasture. She is panting hard and Zoe and I decide quickly that the best fast thing we can do for her is tip her over feet downhill. This puts her at the bottom of the pasture hill, feet actually stretched out under the electric fence. Zoe sprints to the top of the pasture to unplug the electric wire. We calm Gjynni, calling softly, rubbing her sides, keeping her up. As always, it seems to take forever for the vet to arrive.
Dr. Jereld Rice is gift to our farm that we never ever take for granted. Zoe runs back to the top of the field and leads him to Gjynni, Jereld's tall lanky stride calm and confidence inspiring. "Hello Sister," he calls to Gjynni. Zoe, with a budding confidence of her own, gives him the account: a tube of Calcium at 1:30, calving at approximately 4:30, down at 4:45. Rapid breathing. Alert. Possibly trying to pass the placenta. The IV kit and CMPK already at the site. That's our Zoe. We will never ever take her for granted.
One hour, one and a half bottles of CMPK injected intravenously, lots and lots of pushing, and our Gjynni is up again. After a few moments, she was ready to try a few steps and when Jereld carried her calf in front of her, ready to try a few more. It is unbelievable how fast Milk Fever takes a cow down. It is miraculous how the correct application of medication can bring her back.
Jereld's work done, we said our thank you's and he returned to his family. Zoe and I set about introducing the little guy to his Mama and she to him. While we had been letting the CMPK drip into Gjynni's jugular, Zoe and I took turns rubbing the calf with a towel, trying to mimic a cow's rough licking. This stimulates the newborn's circulation, but also connects the mother and calf through scent. We had to transfer that scent from Zoe and I to Gjynni, rubbing the still slick parts of the calf's soft baby hair then rubbing Gjynni's nose. Finally, Zoe helped the calf stand and latch on to Gjynni's teat while I held her still. Immediately, I could feel the change in her energy. I can't explain it with words but all of a sudden, her wandering spirit was fully back in her body, aware of her baby, aware of herself as his Mama.
I will never ever take for granted the life I have been lucky enough to live. If these words share even the smallest sense of wonder I feel right now, then I ask you to do me a favor. Next time you see a cow, or a farmer who loves her cows, or a vet who loves cows, please give them a hug. They deserve it.