Thursday, 26 November 2009

It is not always good news on the farm.

One thing you quickly learn in farming is that things do not always go as you wish them to. Of course, the weather plays a big part - particularly for the arable farmer, when a wet autumn can spell disaster for getting the crops in. But even here, where we have semi-retired and only look after animals for others, we have the occasional sad tale to tell.

Last week it was a sheep - suddenly went off its feet . We brought it into a calf pen where it lay for a week in warm straw. Two or three times a day the farmer coaxed it to drink a little water and every day it had an injection, but to no avail - at the weekend it quietly died.

But a couple of days ago we had a drama which was most upsetting. The farmer suddenly noticed that one of the heifers in the loose housing was in some kind of distress. All these heifers are in calf, mostly due around Christmas and January.

On close investigation he saw the nose of the calf sticking out but no legs (calves usually come legs first with nose neatly tucked in). We got our neighbour round immediately and once he saw it he rang for the vet. It was a dark, wet and windy night but luckily there is good lighting in the housing and it is sheltered, although one side is open to the elements.

The upshot was that there was not one calf, but two, both very large and both, sadly, very dead.

The vet thought that they had probably been dead for around a week before she began to abort.

I wont go into gory details, suffice to say that one of them had to be cut to extract it - the bodies of both calves were very smelly and the cow was already very ill.

She had a cocktail of injections and at eleven o'clock at night she had a drink of warm water from a bucket - but all to no avail. By morning she had died too.

Strange to say, all this took place in the housing, amongst twenty or so other heifers, who took little or no notice of what was happening.

It is always sad to lose an animal, doubly sad when it is so young (she was only three years old), and trebly sad when beautiful calves die too (these were beautiful calves but either one would have made for a difficult birth.)

The dead animals have been fetched away, the housing is re=strawed and the yard has been well swilled down, so it is all over - but there is still a lingering sadness.



It is Thanksgiving today - so may I wish all readers who live in the US a very happy Thanksgiving Day.

23 comments:

Wild Somerset Child said...

I think we all become attached to the creatures we rear and look after. With me it was geese and ducks, and hens which I still have. I used to breed them but now just keep a few for their eggs. Only one ever had a name - a very intelligent runner duck; but she was bitten by a fox and even though we rescued her, she died. Sad to hear about your heifer and calves; they would have been so much more valuable and harder to replace (or so I imagine).

Reader Wil said...

How sad, Weaver! That's the run a cattle farmer runs, but still it is so terrible to lose an animal.
You asked about the little dog in my header. It's the dog of my Australian daughter. He was a pup then, and is about three years old now.

jinksy said...

Literally, poor cow... no pun intended.

PurestGreen said...

What a tough week. I am sorry for your loses.

Sal said...

That's very sad news.
I hope you bring us better news in the weeks ahead.
x

maggi said...

What a sad week you have had. It is never easy to see a life taken in whatever way. Hope your week improves.

steven said...

weaver it's hard for me to imagine not being attached to any animal but i know that farm life is such that that can make a difficult job even harder. i'm sorry for your losses. steven

Totalfeckineejit said...

That's tough Weaver,emotionally and financially.Better times ahead I hope.On a happier note at least I can say I loved your Hare ppoem.It is my favourite animal too!

Heather said...

What a sad time you and the farmer have had - to lose the heifer and both calves after the sheep must have been a great blow to you and their owner. I hope the weather will relent soon and allow you a bit of 'plain sailing' for a while.

HelenMHunt said...

Sounds like it's been a tough time. It must have been very difficult for you.

Titus said...

Sorry for the sad week.

Cloudia said...

You have a great heart.




Aloha, Friend!


Comfort Spiral

dinesh chandra said...

Hi the death is truth, We accept that in a positive way, but amture death is not acceptable. But John Keats wrote in one of the ode The death come in a manner silent without pain.

Also qoute by Browing one of his monologe the last ride together may the world end this time for riding by the side by side of my mistress.

Great people, Great soul always accept things coming such a manner we can't avoid.

Regards

Dinesh Chandra

Amy said...

Sorry about the calves, but such is life on a farm I guess...

Bovey Belle said...

Sorry to read this. Your husband sounds a good stockman who is connected to his animals, so such losses (especially the heifer and her dead calves) hit hard. Our farmer "Next Door" doesn't give a damn - his milking herd is purely for money-raising. I shouldn't think he has ever had a moment's grief over losing an animal. I hate to think of the number of times I have looked out of my window here and seen one of his milking herd which has reached the end of the road, being "moved" into the knackerman's lorry . . . I shan't miss that when we move.

Crafty Green Poet said...

oh how sad, a triple tragedy,

I've spent some time on farms and know how attached to the animals you get,

Elisabeth said...

It's hard not to anthropomorphize as a city dweller. It's so sad to read this story, one with which you, Weaver, are no doubt familiar.

Immediately I think of infant mortality as it used to be in the western world and continues to be for others elsewhere.

The idea of dead mothers and babies, cows or humans, feels almost too painful to contemplate, but you have told us with such empathy, your words soften the blow. Thankyou

Dave King said...

As I have just commented on Karen's post about the death of an old man, "That's life", but quoting it here it sounds glib. It is not meant to be. Sometimes we townies tend to think that farmers must take such things in their stride - or see them in terms of cash. Thanks for a post that puts the matter truthfully.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for all your commiserations - much appreciated.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

A sad circumstance for all concerned. These things seem to crop up without warning. No-one likes to think of an animal suffering.

Dubois said...

All stockmen love their animals whatever some may think. And dairy farmers have it very tough because they are paid less for their milk than it takes to produce it.

Arija said...

What a sad tale Weaver. It is really odd how we place ourselves and above the animal kingdom when we see asheep mourning her still born lamb and only grazing in its vicinity for days. When a cow is near to birthing, the whole herd stands around her encouragingly and rejoice at the new arrival or mourn with her at a still born.
Animal behaviour is no different to aour own.

jeannette stgermain said...

It must have been a helpless feeling to see the cow go through that -sorry. Hope for better tidings.