Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bud and Trooper

As expected, Bubbles calved last night. Thankfully, she handily managed all of the required procedures on her own. No glitches, just a sturdy, independent little guy named Bud who was up and nursing in no time. It was a good thing, too, because Hubby and I had our hands full with Blossom.

Blossom’s water bag came out, but no feet appeared. Hubby soon discovered the reason—her calf was breech. Normally, the forefeet exit the cow first, with the head close behind. A cow can’t deliver a breech, and without intervention, both she and the calf will die. Time is the calf’s enemy because the longer a breech calf is in the birth canal, the more fluids it gets in its lungs.

This delivery was made even more difficult because the calf was very large! Hubby was manning the calf puller but having trouble; he told me to grab the tail and pull, but it was so slimy I couldn’t grip it. I had to grab the calf above his hocks. When he was born, we were rather surprised that he was still alive. Within minutes, Hubby named the handsome little dude: Trooper.

Blossom mothered up right away, but it soon became obvious that all was not well, and Trooper’s battle for life had just begun. His breathing was labored and rattled, he couldn’t stand up because his tendons were contracted, and he couldn’t suck. And even though it was a mild evening and he was in the barn, he was shivering uncontrollably.

While I rubbed Trooper with towels and blankets, Hubby milked Blossom to get her life-saving colostrum. He was then moved to ICU (the house). We’d neglected to stock our cow first-aid cabinet with a stomach-feeding tube, so I made a midnight run to get one from one of the nicest veterinarians on earth!

After the first feeding, Hubby went to bed for a while. Trooper kept trying to get up but just staggered and crashed around, so I stayed up with him, helping him sit up, stretching his legs, rubbing him, tucking blankets around him, and praying like crazy. At times, my faith was as weak and faltering as the calf was! By 3 a.m., I must have been somewhat delirious (I’d been up since 4:45 the previous morning) because a song came to me, a variation of Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World. I sang it over and over to my patient:

I see fields of green, skies of blue
Baby calves playing, and Trooper too
And I think to myself, what a wonderful God!

Hubby got up and milked Blossom again--who, by the way, is the sweetest, calmest first-time mama heifer in the entire planet—so we could get more colostrum into the calf. We surrounded him with a mattress and a couch so he couldn’t hurt himself, and I was finally able to get a few hours sleep.

Thanks to the prayers of many dear folks, Trooper is getting stronger and stronger. Now he can stand up and take some wobbly steps on his own! He isn’t totally out of the woods and hasn’t figured out the nursing thing yet (please pray if you’re so inclined), but if any calf can triumph over adversity, this one can.

Bud, at 12 hours of age.

Trooper, at 11 hours of age. 

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”               –ROMANS 8:37

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