Recently we experienced some firsts on our farm adventure. Through these lessons, we learned a lot, met some wonderfully skilled and heart-felt folks, and cried some tears along the way. The farm social media and website have been quiet over the holidays, but also for processing the experiences of the last two weeks.
Our cow, Evie, who was an older mama that we had on the farm for about eight months, was getting close to her due date for the last pregnancy. She came from a loving and knowledgeable farm where she had been a wonderful mama to her offspring. We were very excited to have our second calf born on the farm. Our animals get a good look over from us at least twice a day because of when chores around the farm are done, but also with projects, repairs, and other jobs, we have a chance to see how everyone is doing. We noticed on one of these 'checks' that Evie had seemingly dropped where she was carrying the calf- significantly. We sent pictures to our farm friends, the breeders, we got Evie from to see if this was normal for her pregnancy or not. Through several messages and conversations over distance with a few other farms, we came to the conclusion that she more than likely tore some tendons or muscles even in her belly where she was carrying the calf and was in need of a vet check and possible c-section.
We called up our large animal vet to come out and after even the phone consult, decided a c-section was the best plan for mom and baby. She came out the next afternoon with helpers and prepared for the surgery. In our rustic operating room, the team worked diligently to deliver the beautiful little calf successfully. As one member of the team worked on our new addition to the farm, the others got back to work on Evie. This is the tough part of the story. There was so much damage to her body from the tears that her repairs wouldn't hold as they tried to close the incision. After working for hours, the tough call was made to put her down. It was ultimately the most humane way to respectfully take care of this wonderful cow. Through tears, I said good-bye to this lovely mama and promised to take good care of her new little one. We didn't expect this day to end this way and were heart-broken from the loss.
Quickly, we had to shift our focus to the new calf to make sure she was drinking, got the colostrum she needs the first 24 hours of her life, and warmed up as the temperatures were dropping in our make-shift operating/delivery room barn. The place we decided on for the evening was our house, in the bedroom so we would be able to wake up and have her close for the every two hour feedings she required. The vet and team so kindly sat on the floor with our tired and weak little calf and syringe fed her and kept her warm and awake until her temp came back up to normal and she ate a portion of the colostrum. The life of a large animal/farm vet is not one for everyone. The team was at the farm from about 3:30 until midnight to make sure everything was properly cared for. We have a wonderful vet who is also a farmer who has helped us learn and taken care of our animals as we take them to the clinic. This traveling vet is an extension of our farm family now and travels to the farm as we have situations such as this or other 'emergency' situations. Both are critically important and have their place in our education to continue the best care of our animals. We are forever grateful for these teams and the time they spend caring for ours and so many other animals.
Since this, we have given a special place in the pasture for Evie to be remembered and will be planting a special tree in her memory. We have cared for a newborn calf with little sleep. We learned how to give shots to this calf. We created a stall space in the new office/store for cold nights. We laughed at the first jumps, first encounters with farm cats and chickens, and learning to drink from a bottle, not our shoes. It has been one of the longest week and a half months we have had on the farm, but the outcome is a beautiful new life out of a sad situation. Now, this little one can grow up along side of some other little ones on the farm as we just had our first Kiko goat born on the farm and the next is on the way soon.
Farming is definitely a tough job, shouldn't be done alone, and takes its toll physically and emotionally. BUT, it holds in it rewards beyond measure- there is nothing more rewarding than being able to experience new life.