38 thoughts on “Motherhood”

  1. Sally that was beautiful!! Thanks so much for sharing !!! Al is a cutie (was he born with a tat on his ass lol) Frances is a beautiful creature !!! Congratulations. I’m sure you have said this but how many calves does this make for her ? BTW when Dave swatted her away that was hilarious!

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  2. Oh how beautiful! Frances, you are deserving of your diva status for the moment, you did good, mama. Little Al looks very healthy and strong. Good job by everyone (but mostly Frances).

    Oh, and I love Dave’s headlight!

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  3. Awe, such a beautiful video! Francis is so beautiful and that is such a beautiful little calf! Those giant baby bottles bring back so many childhood memories from when we had bottlers!!!

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  4. Very cute. A lot of hard work. My parents raised cattle. A lot of cattle. I can remember only one cow not taking to her calve. It only happened once and it was her first. Back in the day when I was growing up (I’m in my sixties) in California, our cattle always calved in January. My dad specialized in Herefords and back then, if I remembered correctly, they wanted the biggest yearlings by market time, so it was always a race to have them born early in the year, plus the added benifits of green pastures in the spring when the babies would start grazing. My Moms parents who still farmed in Iowa, did the same, only they had to deal with snow and cold, but it beat the mud in spring. Anyways, I remember all the men talking about who was going to have the biggest yearling by market time. They gave a little cow figurine to the winner. We had a bunch of them. What I hated most was bawling season. It is where they separate the calves from their moms (if I remember correctly it was in summer) and weaning starts. They sort the calves from their moms (not an easy task let me tell you) and pen them up from each other (our pen for the very special cows was fairly close to our house). For about three days and nights the mama cows and the baby cows make the biggest bawling fest ever. My dad always made sure they got extra feed for the mamas as they were the loudest and at their meanest. So when I saw Francis mooing to her baby it reminded me of a very mild case of bawling. My dad always had at least 250 head of cattle and when you add in all the other operations in our area it was quite loud (every one was basically on the same schedule, only days apart, so they could help each other out, as a lot of man power was needed for raising cattle, so all the Area owners would get together for meetings and schedule, breeding, calving, bawling season). It was basically the same in Iowa. In Iowa they also had a hog operation. Now birthing pigs is something else! In 4H I did a pig one year. One pig. What work that was.
    Anyway, I am so over all the work that farming and ranching need. I much prefer the vineyards in my advancing years! I admire your energy Sally. It’s a lot of work!

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  5. Update:

    She has milk fever.

    For anyone who doesn’t know, this is very serious. Life-threatening. She came into the barn this morning and wouldn’t eat. That’s the first sign with her that something is really wrong. When I milked her, I got barely enough for the calf (1/2 gallon). And she fought tooth and nail, stomping around, and finally having trouble staying on her feet. We got her out of the stanchion and she went down.

    Down is bad. A down cow is a dead cow.

    Cows spend a lot of time lying down. They sleep that way, unlike horses. But milk fever is a calcium deficiency, and when a cow with milk fever goes down, it means that she simply cannot make her muscles hold her up.

    Jason came and gave her two tubes of calcium. The tubes look like the kind that you get to caulk something, and require a metal gun to administer.

    It took about hour but she got back up on her own. She looks much better now and is outside walking around and doesn’t appear to be staggering like she was earlier.

    This is scary shit. Cows go down with milk fever and can be dead in a matter of a few hours, sometimes regardless of what you do.

    So for today, and maybe tomorrow, she remains in the barn area where we can keep an eye on her.

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  6. Oh no! I hope she is okay. I’ve never seen that happen, but have heard about it. Hope she recovers quickly!

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  7. Congratulations, Frances, Sally, and Dave, and welcome to the world, Baby Al.

    Baby Al, I am concerned for you. I worry that you will be taught from a very young age how to troll and harass people, even and especially innocent, sweet, charming, smart, well spoken, and reverent large families.

    Please try to resist this brainwashing and whatnot, and establish yourself as your own cow!

    Do not collude with your birth family, as they are very, very bad people, and whatnot. (and cows) I even heard the voices of other colluders in the background, which is proof of their evil intent to harass, even and especially by using an impressionable young cow, who has not yet been properly unschooled.

    In the words of my beloved Keith Olbermann, “RESIST!”

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  8. Milk fever is bad, but you knew what needed to be done so I imagine Frances will be fine. Glad she let him give her the bolus of calcium. I certainly have my fingers crossed.

    I’ve never had cattle – does she also need additional magnesium?

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  9. I’m watching the movie “City Slickers” and it is the scene where Billy Crystal has to help deliver a calf. His calf was named Norman, good name, but I like Al better 😉

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  10. Glad she’s doing better. Vets in the family have commented that milk fever is a favorite call to get because the treatment is easy and the recovery appears to be so miraculous.

    Keep a sharp eye on her and if she has problems again, get a vet involved with a little injectable calcium. (this is a bit more dangerous because improperly administered it can cause heart issues, but an experienced vet will do it safely…make sure to inform vet of all previous oral doses). Also, watch for relapse in a few days.

    Really sounds like she’s on the mend and should do well. Watch for bloat. (muscle in digestive tract can be affected).

    Best wishes, Frances, new baby, and long suffering care takers:)

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  11. does she also need additional magnesium?

    No, not at this point. The calcium Jason gave her has vitamins (A and D) in it, and in addition he gave her a vitamin shot. But we now think she has pneumonia. She’s up, walking around, but breathing heavily. He is going to come out again as soon as he can get away and give her an antibiotic.

    Pneumonia on top of milk fever is not uncommon.

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  12. One other thing about milk fever. Frances is a purebred registered Jersey cow. They are more prone to milk fever than the typical black and white Holsteins we all think of as dairy cattle. She’s also getting to be an older girl (she was born in 2008, so she just turned 9). Many dairies retire cows after they are ten years old (and “retire” usually means McDonald’s). For them, the economics of the situation wins. It’s more expensive and risky to breed older cows, so they get rid of them and get younger ones.

    There are all sorts of strategies for preventing milk fever. We use some of them. They’ve always seemed to work until now, but there is no way to know if they worked, or if she was just younger and less prone to it in the first place.

    This is an example of what I have said again and again, that birthing is natural but not always successful, and that the older we get, whether bovine or human, the less well the whole mechanism works. We’ll just have to see how she does and make a decision later on about whether or not to breed her again.

    She will not be out of the woods for several days.

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  13. Relatively speaking, Francis’ mothering is about on par with Nicole’s. Birth, provide some milk, pass along to someone else to raise and care for.

    Sally, I hope Francis makes a full recovery.

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  14. I watch Dr. Pol a lot and one of the common things in the dairy farms he visits is milk fever. He’s always talking about how dangerous it is if you don’t catch it fast because once the cow is down, it can damage it’s lungs and heart by laying on them. Glad Frances got her calcium in. Pamper her a little and give her a hug from her troll.

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  15. And another update:

    The vet just left.

    She has pneumonia, which is exactly what Jason thought she had. The difference between Jason and a vet is that Jason can give her antibiotics by IM injection. The vet brings the big guns.

    He gave her IV calcium, and IV antibiotic, IV steroids, some IV NSAID(similar to Advil, just to make her feel better), and a bottle of saline. She never objected a second, which just shows how sick she is.

    I asked him how he rated this on a scale of one to ten (with ten being bad), he said a six or seven.

    And it’s due to her age, her breed (Jersey), the sheer amount of milk she produces, the change in the weather (we’ve gone from sultry summer nights to chilly fall nights very suddenly), and the stress of calving.

    His recommendation for the future, provided she bounces back and does okay over the next couple of months, is that with the next calf, we tube her with calcium about two days prior to her due date, again right after calving, and a third tube 24 hours later, and keep a hawk eye on her and call him the second she wobbles and he’ll IV her again if necessary.

    She might well be looking at retirement here. We’ll have to see.

    You know, all that stuff she accomplishes (read about it here) comes at a price.

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  16. Sally, I’m so glad you had the vet out. I know she’s special to you, and I think the big guns are sometimes necessary, particularly with the older girls. I think you made a good call.

    Sending good vibes your way, and heartfelt hopes for a good outcome.

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  17. So proud of Francis for such a good job. The calf is beautiful. Hopefully everyone’s favorite diva of a cow will be out of the woods soon. Please give her a pat for me.

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  18. And an evening update:

    The vet was here at about 4 p.m.

    We went out to the barn to milk her (just enough for Baby Al). She was waiting for me. I opened the door to the milking stall and she walked right in, stopped to be maternal and send her offspring a little moo, smelled the milking machine motor to see if it met her high standards (this is a regular routine) and walked right into her stanchion and began eating the leftover breakfast she had not touched this morning.

    I locked her head latch and then milked out the 1/2 gallon for the baby.

    Afterwards, I opened the head latch, she backed out and then waltzed out of there like she owned the place (which she sort of does).

    She’s still wobbly, and she’s still a wee bit addled from moment to moment, but all in all, she’s about 75% better, and that was within three hours. IV antibiotics are the bomb. Dr. Steve is the best.

    We get the bill later. 🙂

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  19. I’m so glad Frances is doing well. I know how much you love her, and I’m sure you and Dave will take he best care of her, but it’s scary while it’s happening :(.

    I went through a similar thing with our Jack Russell dog when she had a litter of pups (intentionally, as she was so awesome, we had homes lined up before they were born). After she gave birth (magical for me watching!), she cleaned all the pups, she fed them, grew weak and then started seizing 🙁 I whisked her and the pups to the vet, where he diagnosed a severe calcium deficiency, and gave her an IV to top her up, and sent us all home with a bottle of liquid calcium for me to give her until the pups were weaned. She was perfectly fine after that. She went on to have another (planned) litter a year or so later, and I started giving her the calcium liquid a week or two before the pups arrived, and after the birth until they were weaned. I would have been heartbroken if anything had happened to her, she was a wonderfully intelligent little dog.

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  20. Great news Sally! Hope she continues to come along.

    Seeking and trusting the knowledge of a trained, (as in having attained a degree and license and is in good standing from a “statist” university or college), medical professional is what smart people do, and often makes the difference between life and death or unnecessary suffering. Too bad Nicole can’t seem to grasp this fact and her offspring and animals are left to pay the price of her stupidity.

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  21. I’m sorry she needed the big guns but so glad she got them. I hope she continues to improve and if this means retirement, then she’ll still have those calves to boss around. What’s the point in being the lead cow if you have no one to lead?

    Presuming this is her last calf, will you get another Jersey that didn’t quite make the cut at the big dairy farm?

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  22. Hi Sally,

    So glad to hear that our favorite Princess troll cow is doing better, and acting more like herself! (I like calling her a “diva”; it seems very appropriate!)

    How is she this morning? Her fans are worried. Please let us know when you have a chance.

    Isn’t it funny how you just get the checkbook or ATM card out (and worry about it later) when a beloved pet is sick? No matter my circumstances, my animals aren’t going to suffer on my watch.

    Contrast this with the Nogs’ pets (and children for that matter), who don’t seem to receive medical care ever. Third degree burn? No problem; he won’t start a fire with kerosene again! Gash on the head? Fishing wire and a needle work great. And those are just the ones that come to mind; I bet there are MANY others not blogged out due to the open CPS case. Sigh.

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  23. Is her milk safe?

    It’s fine for the calf, but not fine for people. However, right now it’s colostrum and although some cultures and some people ingest colostrum, I ain’t gonna do it. It’s very thick, very sweet and sticky, and yellow. It’s what contains all the antibodies for the baby.

    This is a major fuck up on the part of evolution, having bovine immunity work like this. Other mammals pass on immunity via the umbilical cord during gestation, but not cows.

    Anyway, it will gradually transition to regular milk in about three or four days, and the vet told us to not consume the milk for that period of time. I’ll probably go five days just because I’m a wee bit on the cautious side.

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  24. Presuming this is her last calf, will you get another Jersey that didn’t quite make the cut at the big dairy farm?

    Jason and I had a talk about that last night, and he gave me something to think about.

    Cows are genetically geared to being pregnant for their entire lives. They do not go into menopause. In the wild (the ancestor of the dairy cow was the auroch, which is extinct, so there actually are no wild cows), they would be in a herd and the bull would keep them bred almost constantly from puberty until death.

    If we stop breeding her, she will continue to have heat cycles.

    The thought of living with Frances in continuous heat cycles just fills me with horror. She is a first-class bitch when she’s in heat. It only lasts about 24 hours (12 at peak) but nobody can stand her for that period, and then she’s less mellow all the rest of the time until three weeks later when we get The Cow From Hell again for a day. When she’s pregnant, her hormones are stable, and she’s a happy, contented girl.

    Jason’s opinion is that putting her out to pasture dry for the rest of her life would be absolutely cruel unless she stops having heat cycles.

    So, barring something unforeseen, we will breed her again. What we will do before her due date is make sure we have Dr. Steve on speed dial. He told me that if we follow his regimen of calcium supplementation we might not even need him, but that a bottle of IV calcium will fix her right up if the oral stuff doesn’t do the job. It will just be an additional cost of cow husbandry.

    Monday morning update:

    Our girl is back. She trotted into the milk stall, into her stanchion, wolfed down all her grain and hunted for more. Machine-milking and I didn’t even have to tie her tail. She’s now out in the paddock with the two medium-sized boys and eating everything in sight. You’d never know anything happened.

    However, she’ll stay close to the barn for another day or two because relapses are possible.

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  25. How is little Al doing?

    He’s great. He’s got a big brother in the next pen (the other guy is four days older than Al, and much bigger). Al is a little guy, but feisty. And he guzzles down 1/2 gallon of milk without even trying hard.

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  26. It’s fine for the calf, but not fine for people. However, right now it’s colostrum and although some cultures and some people ingest colostrum, I ain’t gonna do it. It’s very thick, very sweet and sticky, and yellow. It’s what contains all the antibodies for the baby.

    This is a major fuck up on the part of evolution, having bovine immunity work like this. Other mammals pass on immunity via the umbilical cord during gestation, but not cows.

    Same for horses. You look for beads of colostrum on her teats in the weeks leading up to foaling (she’s “bagging up” and “waxing”). Then the foal is born and if that goes as it should (very very quickly) and the foal stands within an hour, you want them to nurse asap. If they don’t, or you are in any way concerned about whether or not they’ve gotten colostrum in sufficient quantity, you check their IgG and call your vet. If your vet is concerned, they make calls or come out with frozen colostrum that is thawed and given to the foal.

    I’ve never had it reach the point of needing IgG or stored colostrum, thank goodness.

    http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/Documents/erl-learn-foals3-failurept-apr09.pdf

    http://www.avalon-equine.com/avalon-stallions.html (they are super super super picky about their stallions and if someone is even thinking about breeding for a more exotic-looking TB, they stand Goldmaker who is the only one I would even consider covering a good mare of any breed).

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