Thanks to Daylight Saving Time, I am STILL doing my chores in the dark every morning. There are lights in the barn, thank goodness, but I have to take the flashlight out to locate the cow and calves, and also just to find my way to the barn. The only thing more difficult than doing chores in the dark would be doing chores in the dark when it's raining. Not that I'm complaining, because we sorely need the rain (an inch so far) that we're getting as I make this entry.
It wouldn't be so bad if I was still letting the calves do the milking for me, but since the cow's teats still have scabs on them from Henry (the calf with an underbite) nursing her, I'm milking her twice a day.
Thank goodness Grace was waiting near the barn when I was ready to milk, so I didn't have to walk all over several acres in the rain calling her. But there is something very unpleasant about milking a wet cow. Water drips down onto the person milking, and also into the bucket. Since I wasn't saving any milk for the house, at least the water in the milk wasn't a big deal. The calves don't care.
When I entered the calf lot with a milk bucket, a nursing bucket, and a flashlight in hand, I saw the two older calves out in the rain, wishing they could get through the fence to Grace. I figured one-week-old Holstein was in the calf stall, warm and dry. I put my buckets in my "milking parlor" and then went to check on him. Well, my heart stopped when I saw him laid out on his side, eyes half-closed and no indication that he was breathing. I nudged him with the toe of my boot. No response. $425 dollars laying dead on the straw.
"Oh come on, don't be dead!" I pleaded, nudging him a little harder with my toe. He was limp as a dishrag. I felt his body, and he was warm. His nose was wet. "OK, he can't have been dead long," I thought. "I'll see if I can revive him somehow."
When I started trying to get him to a more upright position, though, he began to wake up, and struggled to his feet, not gracefully, but quickly. There was nothing wrong with him after all. Baby Holsteins have such a huge frame, it seems as though they need a little time to get used to their massive bodies, and they sleep most of the time for a few days. It seems to take them longer to get used to just walking around. They are much clumsier than my fine-boned little Jerseys: They will try to kick up their heels and fall down in an ungainly heap.
However, I have raised at least 200 bottle calves in my time, and I have never seen a living calf appear to be as dead as this one.
So his name is now Lazarus, because he was resurrected from the dead this morning (so it seemed). Once he was on his feet, he immediately began looking for a nipple and even began bawling to let me know he was starving.