A love/hate relationship

by Katie on October 18, 2010

That’s what we decided we have with calving season.

You see, Friday night, on our way home from changing a bunch of irrigation water (talk about a hot date night, let me tell you), we ran by to check the cows. It was supposed to be a quick drive-by with the spotlight, just to see if we had any new ones on the ground, or if any cows were getting close to calving. Then we planned to head home with the hot pizza that was in my lap.

Let’s just say we went home with a cold pizza instead.

On our little drive-by, we found a first-timer in labor. So we decided to hang out for half an hour, eat some pizza, and come back to check on her. Then, pulling away, we saw one hoof and a purple tongue. Not a good sign.

We each grabbed a slice of pizza out of the box, Brandon hopped out to bring the cow up to the chute, and I took off to enlist the help of his dad.

To say this ended up being a tough pull is probably an understatement. Brandon fixed the main problem pretty quickly (corrected a leg that was folded over). But, we found we were dealing with a severely swollen head from the pushing the cow had apparently been doing before we arrived.

The whole time, I just keep asking, “Is he alive? Brandon, is he alive?”

Not because I can’t handle dead animals. Just because I like to be prepared for them. I’d rather be surprised than disappointed, you could say.

It took all three of us, every bit of strength we each could muster, and what seemed like 30 minutes (but was probably more like ten) before we had most of an 80 pound calf on the ground. His hips proved to be another adventure.

At long last, we had a new, wet, live calf stretched out behind the chute. The problem now was that in addition to the excessive swelling of his head, his tongue was purple, and so large he was barely able to get air around it. He remained stretched flat out, wheezing for every breath, with a mega-tongue hanging out and preventing his mouth from even attempting to close.

You could say we were not very hopeful when we left to let the cow take over, or nature take its course, and of course, to google “monster swollen purple tongue”.

We were both feeling very defeated on the way home, and I told Brandon, “You know, I really don’t know how I feel about calving season?”

He understood.

We talked about how great it is when everything goes right, and you just look out in the pasture to find a cute new calf, full of life. And how awful it is when you find dead ones, or lose one after working so hard to attempt to save it, which is exactly what we thought was going to happen.

Fortunately, we returned an hour or so later, to find the swelling had subsided some, and the calf was breathing normal with his head up.

Three days later, the poor little guy is still having a rough time, but we also had one of the happier births Sunday afternoon, which is what makes it all worthwhile.

[I just realized I recounted this story in far too much detail for most people. …Sorry about that.]

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