After a fairly mild, dry winter we are riding out the roughest late winter/early spring in years.
Many nights it plummets down into the high 20s or very low 30s.
The calves that are with their moms do fine. The calves in group pens do fine also. Early morning finds them all cuddled together around the big hay bales fast asleep.
Its the little ones individual pens that I worry about. They cant seek out a warm spot, they depend on me. The best solution I have found is to group them all together each still in their own pen, fill their pen deep with hay and then cover them over with huge tarps.
A tent city if you will....
The tarps are weighted down every few feet with blocks and once they get their evening milk they get "tucked in" for the night.
I do a final check just before midnight to see what the temperature is in their house. Amazingly enough, the warmth of the hay and their combined body heat rising and being blocked by the tarp keeps them 20 - 30 degrees warmer than the outside temperature.
The next morning they are fed and covered back over if it is a very cold day. If not the tent is folded back so they can enjoy the sunshine of late morning
Whats so funny is how much they like the tent. They seem to really enjoy their cozy blue tinged world.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Here are some of the highlights of the day...
It began most appropriately with a Mani-Pedi minus the Mani...
The color is Perfectly Princess Pink just in case you want to race right out and make this well hoofed look your own.
Princess's always know exactly what they want...
and special guests!
The Princess continues to lived happily ever after!
To read more of the fairy tale of Princess Aurora:
Posted by Indie at 3:41 PM
Friday, March 22, 2013
Its moving day for lil Mz Melly!
Today is the day she gets to leave her individual pen and go live in a group where she will have more freedom and independence.
Melly meets the criteria for the big move into "big girl world". She can drink from a bucket and is eating grain every day and is past the newborn stage.
Over the years we tried many ways of moving calves but like most things, the simplest is also the easiest. Melly, although she drinks from a bucket, still knows what a bottle is and like all calves LOVES it. So just a bottle of milk and slowly leading to the new home....
Lazzie is thrilled to see Melly coming...they were next door neighbors until Lazzie moved 2 weeks ago, now they can be best buds again.
There is always the same routine when introducing a calf to a new spot...
first they sniff the ground (their nose is a much surer guide to them than their eyes)
Then they realize the freedom....
then finally, the awareness of the other calves...
settling in with your BFF to enjoy your new digs.
Posted by Indie at 7:20 PM
No she isn't FBI Special Agent Scully and she knows nada about X-Files!
Scully was born with an odd bent angle to her spine. Probably this is due to laying in an awkward position in utero before she was born.
This isn't a great picture of her but it shows the odd alignment of her spine, especially on her left side.
When calves are very small I keep them in individual pens so I can handle them and feed them their bottles with no competition. As soon as they are big enough I move them to a group pen. There, they can run and romp and play with other calves that are on their same developmental level.
In Scully's case I felt it was imperative to get her in a group setting as soon as possible. The hope was that running and bucking and playing would help to straighten out her spine.
It is working!!!
Scully one week after moving in to her bigger play area:
Its always amazing how if given a chance, nature will many times correct its own mistakes. All we have to do is provide the right situation to enable it to happen.
Scully (surrounded by her peeps) is going to do just fine!
Posted by Indie at 6:06 PM
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Lazzie was born on time, just a little smallish. She was quite "unique" (read ugly) looking.
For one thing, she didn't have the sleek fur a Jersey normally has but instead she looked like that favorite teddy bear that's been through the spin cycle in the wash a myriad of times!
At about one week of life she got scours (an upset tummy) which is common between day 7 - 9 of a baby calfs life. Only she got worse instead of better. I moved her to a spot beside the door of the office and erected a plastic tent over her pen with a space heater to keep her warm. She was lethargic and disinterested in everything, including eating. I medicated her and when she wouldn't eat I tube fed her. When she was past the very worst she would drink her bottle but only an ounce at a time. So I rigged up a bottle feeder to hang in her pen so she could have her milk as she saw fit. This was all happening during the coldest part of our year, deep into January and early February. Every night I would go back around 11 and refill her bottle with warm milk with added electrolytes. I would make sure she had plenty of fresh hay to sleep in and that her space heater was blowing very warm air. Then I would cover her over like a blue bubble and think "she probably wont make it through the night..."
Every morning I would go back and pull off her tent and there she would be, laying there looking half alive but her bottle would be EMPTY. Sometime in the middle of the night she would get up and drink her bottle. All day long she would lay there listless barely able to be coaxed in to eating, I added vitamin B shots to her regimen of medicine, probiotics, and zinc. Each night I would leave a warm bottle and think, tonight is probably the last night I will see her.....
Each morning there she was....not acting normal but alive, AND her bottle was always empty. It got the the point that even the morning milkers that come at dawn would carefully pick up the tent and look under, thinking this would be the sad day but NO!
There had to be a way to get her interested in life so each day I started letting her out of her pen to walk around freely amongst the other calves while I was there to keep an eye on her. She would stagger around and walk as much sideways as forward and then with no warning she would collapse on the ground. A few minutes later she would rise....stagger around and collapse. At first I would run to help her up but when I realized she could get up when she was ready I quit interfering. It was very alarming to visitors and delivery guys who would be here at the time. They would see this little ragga muffin calf staggering around and then fall down and would ask if there was something wrong. I heard
"Hey lady, is that calf OK?" many times during that period.
Each night back she would go in to her toasty warm pen and I started leaving two bottles and each night I would hope for the best and each morning the milkers would greet me with "she rose from the dead again one more time"
Honestly she became the focal point of our morning salutations. Instead of "Good Morning" it was
"She made it!"
Gradually she started to eat during the day. During her times out of her pen she quit falling down and started to walk more forward than sideways. Her strange tremors that she had slowly disappeared. It was time to give her a name.
I was surprised to see that the name Lazarus is of female origin when I googled it (yes I did) so really what else could her name be?
Only very special calves get 2 ear tags. Most just get one. It was very touching to arrive at work and find Laz with her identity tag in one ear and her vanity tag in the other which said:
Posted by Indie at 8:06 PM