Friday, August 2, 2013


APRIL 30 – We had a few more cold nights, down to 14 degrees. Then it warmed up a little. Michael helped Lynn take the post pounder off our smallest tractor, and put the blade on it, to start cleaning ditches. Andrea and I hadn’t taken time to work with the fillies for awhile, or ride Sprout, so on Thursday we caught and brushed the fillies, and then rode Ed and Sprout on a fast ride about 5 miles up the creek and back. We hurried home so Andrea could get to town on time to take the little girls to dance practice after school, and Charlie to the computer place where he is learning to fix computers.
Friday afternoon Dani came down to see her favorite cow, Maggie, and calf.

Andrea and I worked with the fillies again, and rode Ed and Sprout—a fast ride over to Beachy’s place (a 12 mile round trip). We were thinking Sprout was finally starting to behave again, until a group of horses came galloping up alongside the fence to greet us. Sprout spun and bolted (since Andrea wouldn’t let her buck), and Andrea had to pull her around really sharply to halt her. She behaved better on the way home.

When we got back, we checked on the cows and calves and discovered that one of the youngest calves (Maggeruete’s calf) was very sick with scours. He had been fine that morning, but by 6 p.m. was squirting watery diarrhea. He was very weak and staggery, not nursing his mother. We brought the pair in from the field and put them in one of the pens by the barn, and gave the calf 1 ½ quarts of warm water and electrolytes (with a liquid oral antibiotic and kaolin/pectin mixed in) via nasogastric tube.

We gave him more fluids/medication by tube in the middle of the night (at 1a.m.). Andrea and Dani came from their house, and Dani held the flashlight for us. She wanted to help: “I don’t want the calf to die, Grandma.”

He seemed a little better by morning and was nursing his mother, so we skipped the 7 a.m. tubing, which was a mistake. By late morning he was squirting colored water and was very weak again. We realized he needed fluid more frequently to keep from becoming dehydrated; this was a much more serious case than we’ve had for many years. We started tubing him every 4 hours through the days and nights.

Sunday morning was windy and raining, so we took the pair across the creek to the sick barn for shelter (we never put sick calves in our calving barn). The calf was barely able to walk, but he made it. We started giving him extra Keopectate by mouth (about 4 ounces by dose syringe) in between the every-4-hour tubings of fluid, to try to slow down the diarrhea. His gum color was still good, with good capillary refill time, so we knew he didn’t need IV fluids; the frequent oral tubings were keeping him hydrated.

That morning our neighbor Alfonzo started burning brush piles along the creek on the old Gooch place. The weather was windy and the fire got away from him and burned up some of the trees along the creek. He got worried and sped down the creek in his pickup, and brought back several of the Amish men and their water pump, and they spent the rest of the day helping him contain the fire.
Michael helped Lynn clean the old straw and manure out of our calving barn, so it will be clean for next year. During this stormy weather we’re glad we have the secondary barn for shelter.

Maggeruete’s calf is protected from the wind and rain. He’s finally doing better. I went to give him one of his doses of keopectate yesterday afternoon and he was actually nursing his mother. After we tubed him in the evening I gave him a dose of probiotics, a paste containing some of the “gut bugs” he needs—in case the antibiotics have killed off the natural flora in his digestive tract. He was doing so much better that we didn’t get up in the night to tube him, just gave him a dose early this morning and again at noon and at chore time this evening. When I checked on him tonight before bedtime, I decided that he has finally “graduated” and no longer needs fluids. He’s nursing regularly and his bowel movements have firmed up. He’s feeling strong and sassy again and can probably go back out to the field soon.

MAY 7 – Maggeruete’s calf is happy to be back out in the field again with all his buddies. After the prolonged diarrhea he lost all the hair off his hind end, and looks a little funny with all that wrinkled bare skin, so now his nickname is Elephant Boy.

Last Wednesday Michael and Carolyn moved their cows and new babies to the field above the upper corral, so they won’t have access to the creek. Where they’ve been crossing the creek from the Wild Meadow to Gopher Meadow, there is risk for calves being swept away and drowning, now that warmer days resulted in high water from snow melting on the mountain. That morning they also found a freshly-killed deer along the road, mostly eaten. It looks like a wolf kill.

Michael helped Lynn check a couple ditches on the Gooch place that serve some of our fields. Both ditches need new headgates. The next day he used our backhoe and helped Lynn fix one of our ditch outlets. Yesterday he used the backhoe to fix the two Gooch ditches and put in the new headgates. We need to get all our fields irrigated while we have adequate water in the creek.

Lynn and I sent to see the spring dance program at the school. Sammy and Dani were in several dances; both girls are really good at clogging.

On Sunday Andrea and I rode Ed and Sprout, shutting a few more range gates and going around our 320 pasture fence to see where it needs repairs after winter elk damage. The gate between the middle and high range pasture is non-functional; the brace on one end is completely flat. We’ll have to set new posts.

Yesterday while Michael was working on ditches (after feeding their cows that morning), Carolyn checked their cows again in the late afternoon and found another one had calved—with twins. She was mothering one twin but abandoned the first one before he’d had a chance to nurse. He was cold, hungry and very weak. Carolyn brought him home on the 4-wheeler. He was too weak and lethargic to nurse a bottle, so Michael tubed him with substitute colostrum as soon as he got home. They made a place for him in a corner of their basement.

Today Michael and Carolyn took their stock trailer to Helena to pick up young Heather’s horses and some of her things to bring home from college, so Lynn and I went up to their place this morning after chores to get clued in on what to feed the calf. They had to tube him again late last night, but he did suck part of a bottle at 5 a.m. He drank ¾ of a quart when Carolyn fed him just before they left for Helena.

Andrea and I rode today and shut more range gates, and patched a hole in the fence between the low range and middle range where bikers made a new little “bicycle gate” but failed to hook the fence wires back up again.

Lynn helped Alfonzo pull some brush out of the creek that was obstructing water flow into one of the ditches. Then Lynn and I went up at 4 pm to feed the calf, but he was very lethargic and didn’t want much milk—and had a high fever. So we gave him an injection of antibiotics. By the time Michael and Carolyn got home at 10:30 this evening the calf was feeling better and nursed a full feeding of milk replacer.

MAY 17 – Last week Lynn hauled another load of big round bales to the upper place for Michael and Carolyn’s cows. Nick drove home from Iowa (William Penn University) and got here Thursday afternoon. He and Michael took a few little bales up for their horses—for Lynn to feed them when we did their chores again. We were the “battery backup” for all the chores last weekend, with everyone gone.

Thursday afternoon Charlie sang a solo in his school program, and then Andrea and kids drove to Utah for Sam’s national dance competition that weekend, and her group got 2nd place!

Lynn fed all their pets while they were gone. Friday morning Michael and Nick brought the calf down here for me to take care of. Michael, Carolyn and Nick drove to Helena to spend 2 days for young Heather’s graduation from Carroll College.

We fixed a place in our barn for the calf, where he could go in and out—to the grassy pen in front of the barn. He gets a bottle 3 times a day—early morning before chores, at 2 pm in the afternoon, and last thing at night before bedtime. Lynn fed him a few times for me.

Young Heather graduated with honors on Saturday. She was one of 10 graduating seniors (out of 288 graduates) with a 4.00 grade for all 4 years. On Sunday Michael, Carolyn and Nick packed the rest of her things and came home that evening. We kept the calf here one more night. When I fed him just before bedtime, he was so determined to follow me afterward (wanting more milk) that he shimmied under the metal gate and came running after me. I had to lock him in the barn to make sure he didn’t escape again. Michael and kids came down the next morning with their trailer to take him back home. It was nice to see young Heather and give her a hug, and a graduation gift.

That afternoon Andrea and I rode Ed and Sprout to check more range fences.

We try to ride every day to put more miles on Sprout and get her settled into working attitude. She was doing pretty well (hadn’t tried to buck for several days) until yesterday when we made a short fast ride in the rain. By the time we came home it had stopped raining. We were trotting past another horse in a field, and when Sprout heard that horse whinny she blew up and started bucking. Andrea got her under control and made her gallop around a bit before we continued home. That crazy mare needs a lot more (and harder) rides to become more dependable.

Yesterday evening at chores I checked the cows and calves when I was re-filling one of their water troughs and noticed that Mary Mary Conskentrary’s calf was dull and had diarrhea. Lynn and I brought the pair in from the field, to one of the side pens where we could catch the calf and give her oral neomycin sulfate solution. They we hurried to town to the annual Spring Concert at the High School. Charlie’s 5th grade band group played several pieces (and Charlie had a trombone solo), and Emily’s high school choir sang several songs (and Em had a short solo). We are proud of both kids. Em has been too shy to sing a solo before now, and Charlie just started playing trombone in mid-January. We are glad they both enjoy music.

This morning it is actually raining. It’s been a dry spring, so any rain is much appreciated. We put Mary Mary and her calf into the sick barn where the calf can stay warm and dry. She seems a little better and stronger today.