Bad news from a cattle standpoint. But then, there are so many things more important than cattle dying, I hesitate to even share the information.
As I explained before, Crystal got out with a neighbor's bull when she was only eleven months old, which is younger than a heifer should be bred. When the grandson went looking, and finally found her in his second day of searching, she was on a bluff at our fence wanting to come home. He and his buddy tried their best to get her down off that bluff to a place where it would have been easy to get her through the fence, but she would not leave that spot. She was nowhere near the neighbor's herd, and the grandson said there was no way she would go down to where they were. I should have known better, but I assumed she had not made contact with the bull.
At least three months went by before we realized that she had no doubt been bred, because she wasn't coming in heat at three-week intervals as she should have. By this time I wasn't sure of the exact date when she had been with the bull, so I wrote down two dates.
We put her in the lot July 19. We watched and watched. If she had been bred on the first date I wrote down, she would have been due the 24th. I had earlier ordered tickets for the Sidney Rodeo in Iowa, for August 1. We were going to leave Friday morning and return Saturday by noon. The cow seemed to be showing no signs of calving, but hey, even if she had the calf while we were gone, she'd probably be fine, right?
Our motel was in Shenandoah, just fourteen miles from where the rodeo was. In this whole general area, we had no cell phone signal. Just before 11 P.M. we got back to the motel, where the wi-fi allowed me to get on Facebook. There was a message from the grandson from earlier in the afternoon: "Your cow is having her baby."
I'm not going into details, but the grandson, who was already sleep-deprived from spending hours after work every day working on the old house, ended up trying to help a heifer have a bull calf that, it turns out, was about 1/10 her weight. This is a fellow who has never had anything to do with cows, although he says he remembers watching me help a cow have her calf when he was just a little boy. I gave him the motel phone number, so we were able to actually talk instead of message on Facebook.
It was futile. They got the calf out as far as its hips and it would come no further. Cliff gave them some tips, and they finally got it out, but of course after all of that, it was dead. The grandson called me to tell me the calf was a goner, and he said, "I think the cow isn't far behind him."
As it happened, the cow, Crystal, was just worn out. The next day she was walking around, eating, chewing her cud, and laying beside her dead baby a lot.
There is a dairy at Higginsville, and I called a number in the phone book and left a message telling them I had a cow that lost her calf and wondered if they had any bull calves. Bobby calves are a ridiculous price now, but at least the cow would have a baby to raise, and her milk wouldn't go to waste. They never returned my call.
Crystal is only half Jersey, so she isn't going to give a ridiculous amount of milk. I could probably just dry her up and she'd be OK. Yesterday I had Cliff go to the barn with me, because I wasn't sure how she would act when I put the kicker on her. We got her in the stanchion with some feed, Cliff adjusted the anti-kick device to her size, and put it on her. He got probably a quart of milk from her, although she certainly didn't enjoy his efforts. This morning I got about twice that much, and she behaved a little better. She was never a pet like most of my cows are, because I never intended to milk her. We'll see how she comes along. The pigs would love to have some milk, I'm sure. I wouldn't mind having some raw milk around the house myself.
She went through a lot, Friday night, and I would be surprised if she's able to ever have a calf again due to the trauma that occurred. I think we will have a vet assess the situation tomorrow. If worse comes to worse, we can always butcher her. We could just wait and see what happens, but if she were to get an infection she could go downhill rapidly, and we wouldn't want to butcher a sick cow.
So there you have it.