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.