It is so nice to sit down at the computer again to tell you about our week on the farm. Winter just doesn’t want to let go here in the north. Tuesday was a beautiful, warm spring day. Water was even dripping off the roof. Then it happened again. A spring snow storm blew in and dumped another sixteen inches of snow on us. Today is Good Friday here and the sun is once again shining brilliantly. What a nice way to start off our Easter celebration.
Oh No! Milk Fever
This Good Friday morning didn’t start out that great. When Larry went out to do the middle of the night check on the expectant mothers he found our milk cow Fawn, who had just calved the previous day, lying in the cattle shelter with her head turned back against her side. Thinking that she had just been crowded into that position by the other cows we left her until morning. When we went to check on the cows before milking this morning she was still in the same position. Still not thinking anything was seriously wrong we finished the morning milking of the other cows. As we were milking the bells and whistles in our heads started to go off. It finally dawned on us that this is a typical position of a cow with milk fever.
Milk fever occurs mostly in heavy producing dairy cows within twenty-four hours of calving. In the past we had one jersey cow get milk fever a week before she calved. Milk fever is a disorder that is caused when large amounts of calcium are removed from the cow’s blood stream and are utilized in the mammary gland to become part of the colostrum. If detected early enough you can administer an IV of a calcium/magnesium solution. This balances out the requirements of their body and they usually return to normal.
After we gave Fawn the first bottle of Cal/Mag she started to respond to the treatment. We were not able to do a complete IV so we gave it under her skin (subcutaneous). This treatment method will work if the milk fever is not too advanced. It just has a slower absorption rate. We went in for breakfast to wait and see how she was doing. When we went back to check on her she was a bit better, but still not responding as well as she should have been. So, we gave her another bottle. By early afternoon she was looking much better, but still hasn’t got to her feet. We are hopeful that by this evening she will be up and walking. If not we will give her another bottle.
This is not the first time we have had to deal with milk fever. In our thirty-three years of milking cows we have seen it maybe a handful of times in our herd. We have also assisted with the treatment of neighbors cows. Ninety percent of the time we have been successful in treating it. When one of our animals has trouble like this it is very stressful for us. We don’t want them to suffer. We have come to the realization though, in all our years of farming that undesirable things can happen. We just deal with the issues as best we can, then move on. We can’t change anything by dwelling on the difficult.
Here We Go! Lambing has Officially Started.
Well, enough of that kind of excitement. Now let’s get to the pleasant excitement. We officially started lambing last Monday. By today we have close to a dozen lambs. Some of them are straight white, while others are white with black heads. They are so cute. They run around and bounce all over the place like little wild things. We normally like to lamb out when the weather is warmer, the snow has mostly melted and the grass is showing. Unfortunately, this year winter has not loosened its grip so we are bringing every ewe and her lambs into their own private stalls in the shelter. Once the lambs are dried off and up nursing well on their own we will turn them out to another pasture away from the still-expectant mothers. If there are too many new lambs in with the expectant mothers, the ewes become confused when they have their own lambs. This can be especially problematic with first time moms.
Easter Sunday is supposed to see a turn-around in the weather with ever increasing temperatures. This will allow us to move the ewes and their babies to a new location.
But Farmer, We Just Wanted to See the Spring Snow!
Calving should officially start on April 6th, but we always have a few arrive prior to their due dates. This week saw the addition of three new calves. Thankfully they were all born during the daytime when temperatures were a bit warmer. The moms were able to get them all dried off by evening when it started to get colder. Calves are so much larger than lambs that they can handle cooler temperatures.
We Take the Good Along with the Bad
As you can see it has been a very interesting week. Lots of exciting events mixed in with a little bit of the traumatic. This is the way farming goes. We enjoy the successes, we mourn the losses, but we always remember that life is good. We are so blessed to be able to do what we love doing.
For those of you who celebrate Easter, may you be blessed as you reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us.
We enjoy sharing our life with you all. If you enjoy these little glimpses into our life and know someone else who might enjoy them please share this with them. We’ll see you all here again next week.
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