When I woke this morning, a beautiful golden sun brightened my world. As I sipped strong coffee with cream after the kids left for school, I made plans for my day. I had some catching up to do after spending the weekend at my parents' house and I started a list of household chores and spring jobs that I wanted to start. When my coffee was gone, I dressed in my usual coveralls and work boots for the usual first of the morning check of the heifers.
I have mentioned before the important job of routinely checking heifers. They are all due to calve within 45 days, and we approximately two-thirds of them have already calved. Heifers have never had a calf before and they can have all kinds of problems--but usually have none! They can have a difficult time pushing the calf out into the world; they may give up or think that they have already had their calf after pushing a time and try to steal another cow's calf; they may not know what to do for the calf after it is born, or they may simply lie there after working that hard and rest while the calf struggles for breath. So we check our heifers every 3 to 4 hours during calving season. If they need help, we want to be there to help them and the calf.
I hate seeing a broken leg on a calf. My insides just twist up to see a hurt calf try to limp or struggle to follow it's mama cow like nature tells them to do. They don't know any different, and the cow didn't mean to hurt her baby, but somehow one or two calves a year do get injured. Luckily a broken leg is easily mended and usually heals very well. So I called my husband, who was still home from work, and he caught the cow and calf while I called the vet to make an appointment to have a cast put on his leg. I realized that my spring plans for the day had nearly all been canceled! The cattle come first and nothing stands in the way of making sure that the cattle are healthy and well cared for.
When I brought our little K-state calf back to his mama, she recognized him instantly, but sniffed the leg repeatedly! Finally she licked it once and seemed to approve, as she strolled off, he set off following her--just as nature intended. He still walks with a limp for a bit, but at least he is walking and will be able to keep up with his mama and grow and be happy and healthy in the pasture very soon. We'll cut the cast off in 4 weeks, and it will be hard to tell which calf it was that wore a purple cast!