Eighteen months or so ago, we moved back to the old house for awhile. It wasn't a happy time for us, but I was babysitting with a child who brightened up our days. She also kept me pretty busy when she was here. Here at the mobile home, the cows are in plain sight most of the time, and it's easy to keep an eye on them, but once we moved to the house, the only way to see the animals was to go for a stroll outside. They were never visible from the house. Since I was babysitting an infant, it wasn't easy to go for a stroll. Cliff has never been the one to keep the livestock in mind, although if I need him to check on them, he's glad to do it.
I just assumed the cows would all be fine. After all, what could go wrong? As it turns out, plenty.
As lovely a six-month-old heifer calf as I've ever had got on frost-bitten alfalfa and bloated. Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow had a heifer calf that was dead when I found it. Neither of these things would have happened if we had still been living in the trailer house, but there you go. Because Bonnie's udder was worse for the wear and I would have had to milk twice a day with her calf dead, we had her butchered.
Last summer it happened again; my "assuming" got the best of me. We had moved back to the mobile home, but I decided we needed to go on a road trip around the time a heifer was due to calve. She was bred too young by the neighbor's bull (not his fault, the heifer was the one that got out and went to him). I assumed things would probably be fine. I wasn't quite sure of her due date. Anyhow, of all times, that's when I wanted a road trip. Stupid stupid stupid.
She calved while we were gone. The calf was so huge, the grandson had to pull it with a tractor after trying every way he could to pull that calf, which was dead by the time it was extracted.
So. Early this week when I went out to put the three calves with the cow for their milk, I heard one of them cough a couple of times. No big deal, cows often cough. Healthy calves this size don't get sick, at least none of mine ever did.
But every twelve hours when the calves were turned in with the cow, I would hear the coughing, so I watched to see which calf it was: It was Whitey, the one the grandson bought from us.
Their hay bale is directly outside the guest bedroom window, and they hang around that area a lot. So I began looking out the window frequently during the day. I noticed Whitey was laying down most of the time. The next day I never once saw him eating hay or chewing his cud, although he still came to the cow for his milk.
Thursday morning he was coughing frequently. Obviously he wasn't getting better on his own, and I knew we were due for some single-digit temperatures this weekend. There was no denying that he had pneumonia. I called the vet, told him I had a 400-pound steer with pneumonia, and asked him to prepare a syringe with whatever medicine he thought would help. I told him Cliff would be there to pick it up. I didn't even check with Cliff before I made the call. Honestly, I have no idea whether the calf weighs 400 pounds, but it was as good a guess as I could come up with. Cliff brought two syringes home and administered the shots for me. The vet bill was $45, but it beats having a calf die that I have so much time, energy, and money invested in. The stuff prescribed for him were potions I never heard of: Flunixiject Banamine 50mg and Draxxin 100mg.
The cold weather is arriving now, but Whitey has his appetite back. Yesterday it almost seemed as though he was coughing more that ever, but maybe cows are like us: When I've had a bad cold and the stuff in my lungs starts to break up because I'm better, it seems as though that's when I cough the most.
So here's hoping Whitey continues to heal during the cold weather. I hadn't been letting them in the barn recently, but after he got sick, I opened the stall so they have some shelter and get out of the wind.