Thursday, September 13, 2012

Cow Drama

"Get a cow," they said. "It'll be fun and easy," they said. "Heck, may as well get two!" they said. Hah.

I didn't expect it to be easy, but I have to admit it has been more difficult than I anticipated. My first trouble was with T-Bone, the smaller calf. I followed the instructions I was given on him, except for one part- it was recommended I give him some calf starter grain each day. I went to my favorite feed store, and they'd never heard of such a thing, and they had a lot of cow people come through. So, I figured it probably wasn't that important and didn't do that. Otherwise, I fed them bottles at the intervals suggested. The seller gave me a roundabout idea as to when he would be ready to wean. Within a couple days of that, I saw him out in the field, chewing his cud, which is a sign of readiness to wean. I wanted to be sure, so I watched the next day, and saw it again. I mentioned to the seller what I saw, and that I was planning on beginning to wean him. I cut back from two bottles a day to one bottle a day, and followed that for nine or so days, which was longer than the week I was advised.

A couple weeks after he weaned, I noticed he was looking skinny, and was worried, but figured the seller would mention it to me if it wasn't normal. Turns out it wasn't normal, and he was in bad shape. So, I'm back to feeding him two bottles a day. I went to another feed store and bought the calf starter, though so far, he hasn't expressed much interest, though Casanova LOOOOOOOVES it (he gets a little treat each night too). Most days I don't mind; it's like having a 200 lb puppy. I did feel hurt because I got the distinct impression that people felt like I was neglecting the calf, or being lazy. I was just trying to follow instructions, and felt hurt that they'd see me that way.

So, it's been a little over a week since I started Tbone back on bottles, and he's doing really great (other than a cold, which seems to be clearing up ok).  But then yesterday, I notice that Casanova's right eye seemed wrong. It was very runny, and just looked off.  I got a better look at it, and it looks exactly like the pictures of pinkeye in cows look. Awesome. I hate pinkeye.  I call the seller to see if he'll take a look or offer insight. After hearing my description, he felt like I should call a vet.  Great. I feel way out of my depth, so I'd like to get a real professional involved.

I call the recommended vet, and describe what I'm seeing. They say that it is either pinkeye, or a foreign object that has caused an infection. Either way, I'd want to treat it with LA 200 injection, and that runs $.30 a cc. How much does my cow weigh and do I want to come pick it up?  

You're just going to trust me?

Don't you know who I am?  I don't know a thing about cows! I mean, I'm calling my calves "cows" and they're steers. That's an obvious newbie mistake!

I don't even know how much he weighs!

So, I went outside, tried to take a fully body picture so they could get an idea of size, and attempted to get a couple of eye pictures.

I walk out of the vet's office with two giant syringes and instructions to inject them into the muscle, 48 hours apart. I also should use a water bottle to attempt to cleanse the eye. If he'll let me, try to sweep my fingers between the eyeball and eyelid to see if I feel anything.

oooookay. This'll be easy, right?
 I take a few minutes to collect myself (ok, an hour), and I head out there armed with my pink mucking boots, a squirting water bottle, and a syringe.

TBone sees me and comes running. The fact that I'm holding a water bottle compounds the problem. He's convinced this bottle is for him and keeps trying to drink from it. Meanwhile, Casanova thinks me squirting water in his eye is a terrible idea, and he doesn't like the look of that needle either, so he's trying to make a run for it.

All this commotion got the attention of the other cows (steers) so they moseyed on over to watch everything.

This all ended with a cleansed eye (no sweeping under the eyelid though) and a cracked syringe, and no shot given. I decided it was insane to think I could do this alone. Even the smallest of the cows steers weighs more than me.

When J got home, I asked him to help me. I got the bright idea that I should bring some of the calf grain into the field as a peace offering to Casinova.  

Well, the grain got the attention of Baby, the horse. She wanted some of that. Badly. So she's chasing me around the field, trying to get her nose in the bucket. I know she's on a very strict diet, and I'm fairly certain that diet doesn't involve calf starter, but it was looking like she was going to win that battle.  I sneakily gave the bucket to J, and Baby continued to follow me. When J was mostly to the "time out corral", she noticed HE had the bucket, and took off at a gallop to get to him. He got there first and was home free! I felt very lucky that only TBone and Casanova had noticed I was back with the white bottle.

Eventually, I was able to give the injection, and I irrigated the eye a bit more. I brought a rubber glove so I could try to sweep under the eyelid, but I lost my nerve. I did try to peek and didn't see anything though. After that syringe was empty, I put the contents of the cracked syringe in the intact one, so that dose is ready to go.

We get to repeat the antibiotics shot on Saturday. Whee!!