Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Everyone Likes a Happy Ending, But ...

Everyone loves a happy ending. We celebrate when Cinderella's foot slips effortlessly into the glass slipper and she gets her prince. We cheer loudly when the underdog triumphs over the bigger, stronger opponent.

But not every story has a happy ending, even when we do everything in our power to influence the outcome. Such was the case for a baby calf born on Sunday. Randy checked heifers before we left for church. He didn't see any eminent births, so off we went.

After we got home from Sunday School, he checked them again. And he discovered a baby had been born while we were in town. The mama had cleaned it off, but the winter wind was blowing hard from the north, creating a wicked, below-zero wind chill, and the new baby was cold.
So he picked it up and put it in the pickup, leaving the heater on high. It felt like a sauna in there after a few minutes. He tried giving it some warm milk replacer in a bottle while it warmed up beneath an old blue blanket. He tried to stimulate the calf's throat to swallow the milk, but it wasn't getting much down.

After 45 minutes or so in the pickup, we moved it back to the barn. 
Randy gave it more milk replacer via an esophageal feeder.
He put the baby in a calf blanket and left it in the fresh, dry straw.
Then it was time to move the heifer back in with its baby. It was anxious, and it took awhile to get her to go into the calving pen. But they were reunited.
Unfortunately, even though we'd invested quite a bit of time and effort, the calf didn't survive. It was the first calf loss for 2015.
Randy went out to the heifer lot frequently to check and see if others looked ready to calve. Thankfully, no others were born on that frigidly-cold day.
And even though we never like losing calves, there were some faces out in the corral that cheered us up.  These guys enjoyed the dry straw, too.
We also had our first three calves from cows on Monday, well before their February 10 due dates. Thankfully, they all survived, despite frigid temperatures.

No one ever likes losing calves. But, despite our best efforts, Old Man Winter can be a hard opponent to battle. Death is a fact of life.


  1. Aww. So sorry for the loss. It is a fact of life. We try so hard to keep them alive. You win some, you lose some. S o far our weather has been pretty mild. We are calving heifers in a bigger lot. It's been so muddy. So far it's working out great. Nice calm agreeable heifers. If they get ratty and charge, we add a little mag to their salt.
    Hope your weather warms up!

    1. It's been a weird winter, temperature-wise. We are supposed to have 70 degrees on Saturday. This morning, it's 10 degrees, not counting wind chill. We are down to 7 heifers left to calve, but we've only had 3 of our cows calve. They aren't due until February 10.

  2. Thanks for sharing this story. I think it's really important that those of us in ag share both the good and the bad. It really sucks to lose an animal you've tried so hard to save, but it's good for consumers to know the reality I think. Thanks for stopping by and linking up with the Country Fair Blog Party!