Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mama Cow started kicking!

A week ago, for no reason I could see, Grace the cow started kicking the two calves I recently put on her to nurse twice a day.  It wasn't a gentle kick, either, but a carefully aimed attempt at murder.  Calves being persistent, neither of them gave up.   They did get pretty punchy, though, dodging at the first hint that the cow was going to lift a foot, so I started putting her in the stanchion in the barn and putting the kicker on her.  If she had shown this behavior when I first put the new calves on her, it would have made sense, but for her to wait over two weeks and then turn on them threw me for a loop.  

Until I milked her to get a gallon of milk for the house.

Both of Gracie's back teats have abrasions and cuts on them.  She didn't kick at me as I milked, since my hands squeezing the milk out of her didn't feel the same as the calves' teeth when they were nursing.  Cattle only have bottom teeth in front, and those bottom teeth had worn big sores on the back of that poor cow's hind teats.  I took a towel out to the barn, dried the cows teats off with it after the calves were done, and applied Udder Balm, but that didn't seem to be helping, with them nursing every twelve hours.  

So I've decided to take all the milk out of those back teats twice a day, then let the calves in to suck the front ones, which still gives them each over two quarts apiece per feeding.  But I stand by to make sure they stay off the back teats.  I take all the milk out of those teats before I turn the calves in with her, but that doesn't stop them from trying to suck on them.  I'm hoping by milking out her back quarters and putting Udder Balm on them afterward that she will get a chance to heal.  Meanwhile I'll be pouring out two-and-one-half gallons of milk a day.  

If only pigs weren't so high-priced, I'd buy one to consume the extra milk and just keep milking the cow.  She is SO easy to milk that I can actually milk her in the same length of time it takes two calves to nurse her.  When I was in my twenties we raised pigs on milk all the time, and they grew like crazy.

I'm still wondering why, back when Grace had three calves sucking her dry twice a day, she never had this problem.  They were with her for five months and her udder was healthy as can be.    

That's how it goes.  Never a dull minute when you have livestock.  

Thoughts in the wee hours of the morning

Until the arrival of the Internet in my life, I never knew how many people have problems sleeping, especially women.  As the number of my Internet friends increases, I am more and more aware of which ones are night owls, which ones are morning people, and how many folks are liable to be awake at any hour of the night.

I don't know when I last slept for eight hours straight.  I do know that in the year 2000 when I started working at Kohl's, it was already rare for me to sleep through the night:  I had no problem falling asleep in my chair by 8 PM, but staying asleep all night was a different story.  I've read all these articles saying people need to get more sleep and I say to myself, "Oh sure, you can say that, and give all those useless little tips... but when none of your advice works, what then?"

It really doesn't bother me so much, these days.  If I lay awake too long, I reach for the IPad and play Sudoku, or sometimes if I have a book in progress, I'll read that.  It isn't that easy to lie in bed and look at the Ipad, but I never get up until four A.M., so I make do.  When my arm gets tired of holding the device, or my neck gets a crook in it from having my head on too many pillows, I attempt sleep again, and sometimes succeed.

A lot of people I know are going through the cancer battle right now, and here's something that occurred to me in the wee hours of the morning:  Getting old is like having cancer, only worse.  You can survive cancer, but you can't survive old age.  At some point it's going to kill you.

Cancer is painful and full of unexpected surprises.  So is old age.  Cancer is scary, not so much because you are afraid to die, but because you are scared of what's going to happen BEFORE you die.  It's the same with aging:  dementia, blindness, total loss of hearing, loss of bladder control; which will it be?  Maybe all of those and then some.  Oh, and guess what?  No matter how old you get, you can still get cancer, so there's that to wonder about.

You will hear lots of people saying, "I am a cancer survivor."  

When did you last hear anybody say, "I survived old age"?

And now you know where people got that saying, "Old age ain't for sissies."

I hope this doesn't seem pessimistic.  I just happen to be a realist, and this is something I've thought about frequently.

On the other hand, I do eventually get up around 4 A.M. and thank the good Lord I have another day.  I ask Him to help me bear the aches and pains of old age.  I thank Him for the little girl who is often under my care, and ask Him to help me do nothing that will damage her spirit.  I thank Him for the man who has shared this life with me for almost forty-nine years, and ask that he can continue to enjoy many more years of retirement.

But it's all going to end at some point.  So I will try to muster some enthusiasm for this day and get on with life, while I have the chance.  No matter what your religious beliefs, you will still cling to this world as long and hard as you can.  My mom, in the years after Daddy died when she was living here on our property, used to ask, "Why can't I just die?"

But at the first tornado warning that came on television, she was heading for the basement. 

This world may not be my home, but it surely has been a wonderful campground.