I hate writing these posts.
I always try to share all sides of farming. I think it’s important to be open and honest with our customers and our fans. I’m always quick to point out that we share everything here, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
But it doesn’t make it any easier to do.
Yesterday, we had the vet back out to look at Ginger. She had declined since Sunday and I needed to get more attention from the vet if she was going to make it. She was up and moving, but having trouble breathing, and still not drinking or eating.
We’d already run some IV fluids into her on Sunday but on Monday Dr. Baker ran a huge bag of fluids into her to try and get her rehydrated. She also gave her vitamins and a different antibiotic. We discussed taking Ginger to Summit Equine to stay in the hospital but Dr. Baker was concerned she may not survive the trip. We made up a batch of Gatorade and put some molasses in her water, all to try and get fluids in her. That afternoon we used a syringe to get her to drink Gatorade, and our neighbor Erin came up to give her some more Gatorade that evening and again at night.
This morning about 4 am I went over to check on her and give her more fluids if I was able and I found this.
She’d died from pneumonia during the night. We’ll bury her today but unfortunately that isn’t the end of the story.
This problem seems to have arrived with the batch of weaner cows we brought onto the farm about a week and a half ago. We put them in the pasture with Ginger to make sure they were ok before we introduced them to the whole herd. Ginger had the pasture to herself as we’d just sold her daughter so having some new cows around would make her happy. And it did, for a while. Unfortunately they also seem to have brought some disease onto our farm. And Ginger isn’t the only victim. Yesterday morning we found this.
This is one of the new calves that we just bought. This calf had died overnight while bedded down with everyone else. I’d personally checked these calves over the evening before and everyone was bright eyed and spry but a few were coughing. They certainly looked good enough to make it to Monday, which was important because for the past three days I’d been running the farm solo.
Well, Spork and I had run the farm together. And Erin and Dustin had pitched in here and there but overall it was Spork and I doing everything, which is not the best time to try and work a bunch of cows or have a disease spread through the farm. Everyone else was iced in, including the vet until later on Sunday. In order to do much to the cows I needed some help and Monday would be a relatively normal day, I’d hoped. So much for that.
So in addition to treating Ginger on Monday, we pulled this entire group of new cows into the corral and treated them all with duramycin 72-200 antibiotic in amounts appropriate for their weight (I love my new scale), which equalled an entire bottle of duramycin. An entire bottle would normally last us about 4 years, before we finally threw it out for being old.
Today, we are bringing the main herd into the corral and checking everyone over carefully and treating anyone who shows signs of anything, no matter how small. Even thought the main herd is separate from the new cows, we know we aren’t safe because we had this last week.
I haven’t even had time to post this. A little more than a week ago one of our mom’s turned up dead early in the morning when we went out to feed. She appeared to have died from bloat which is very unusual in the winter. We’ve rarely ever had any bloat issues in the winter so we were perplexed why this might have happened. In talking with the doc while she was treating Ginger, she said that whatever respiratory issue we have going around could cause bloat to crop up. Great.
This mom, #62, had a little calf who breaks my heart every time I go in the pasture.
He is the last of the Ninja breed and as a castrated male, the end of the bloodline. He mopes around the pasture and looks pathetic every time I see him. He’s fine, eating and drinking and healthy, and will grow up to be a fine cow but I don’t even point him out when I give tours. It’s too sad.
So we’ve lost three cows in about two weeks. Since I usually lose a cow every few years this is a killer. It kills my mood, my time, my psyche, and my ego. It also kills my bottom line. It hasn’t been a good time on the farm the past few weeks, but as with all things, this too shall pass.
Today it’s supposed to be nearly 60 degrees and we’re going to work our way through this thing. All my guys should be here today to work, we have 12 customers coming on Saturday (a record!) with more booking still and the weather looks perfect for winter farm tours. I’m picking up a cow on Friday from the processor and we’ll finally have steaks in the freezer again (for as long as they last) and tonight we’ll have Ninja Cow brisket that has cooked for about 15 hours low and slow (this is where meat goes when it’s been in the freezer too long, you guys had your chance!)
It’s going to be a good day, if I have to drag it to the ground and choke some good out of it.