Yesterday morning’s barn chaos was nothing compared to what we went through in the last twelve hours. As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours I guess.
Last night my husband had a bad fall and injured his shoulder. He spent most of the night in the ER and when he got home was in a sling and in a lot of pain and couldn’t sleep. He will follow-up with a doctor today to find out the exact diagnosis. Whatever it is, it is definitely going to effect things around the farm as he is the brawn behind all the hard work running and building this farm.
In addition, last night a pack of coyotes came and were running around the barnyard yipping and causing a ruckus. The animals were all securely locked inside, but it kept me up and worried for hours. It was extremely dark so we couldn’t see much but we could hear them clearly and we could see shadows occasionally. Had my husband had both arms we would have been able to do something about them as he has a license and in our area it is legal to use lights, but as it was we just sat on the porch and in the house, trying to watch and be sure they didn’t do any harm. This morning we saw evidence that they had been trying to dig into the big chicken coop. It isn’t completely secure yet and wont be until we add the pen, but it was secure enough that it kept them out (thank goodness).
And then this morning, when we went to milk, Charlotte was very ill. It was clear that she had bloat. Her belly was so huge she couldn’t barely fit through the gate, she wasn’t eating, hadn’t gone to the bathroom all night, and she was quivering in pain and going down to her knees and back up over and over again. We called the vet immediately, knowing this was more than we were set-up to handle. The problem with our location in the Rocky Mountains is that it was going to take the vet at least an hour to get to us. He told me that we needed to tube her with a garden hose if we could to try to let off some of the air and pressure.
My college education was in animal science, specifically equine science and breeding. I have assisted in tubing several horses, but I have never dealt with a cow – and it is very different. But I decided we would give it a go. My husband in a sling and in pain made it so he couldn’t really help. But we have a guy who rents a room from us and he came out to help me, along with my oldest son, and my husband as much as he could.
We tried a smaller hose, but it kept folding in the back of her throat, so then we moved on to the bigger thicker hose. We struggled to get the thicker one down, she was on to our plan by now and was very resistant, plus I didn’t have a way to block her from chewing and clamping on the hose with her back teeth. Later, when the vet was here, I saw what you use over the hose to prevent that from happening so you can get it in her. So we were unsuccessful with our attempts, but then the vet arrived. I was SO relieved to have him there.
The vet tubed her successfully (with the proper equipment) and was able to give her penicillin and mineral oil. He was not able to get any air out. He gave her shots for the pain and a few other things and he said now we just wait and see if she can pull through. It could take up to 48 hours for her to be doing better.
So he left and now we are sitting here kind of shell-shocked and in a daze of exhaustion.
He said that the causes of this kind of bloat are many and in this case it is very unclear as nothing has changed in her environment, she didn’t get into any rich feed or anything, and she’s not showing signs of hardware disease. So it is unclear. We are going to completely cut off her grain feed for at least three days and then add it in slowly and keep it at lower levels than we have been feeding her (though we haven’t been feeding her very high levels). We will be letting the calf stay with her and he will get all the milk for the next few days while she goes through this. I’m not sure how it will affect her milk long-term.
At this point we are just waiting and hoping that everything will turn out ok, with my husband’s shoulder, and with the cow. Feeling kind of frazzled. But as grandma always said – this too shall pass. And we will hopefully look back and laugh at what an adventure this farm life is and about the time that husband was in a sling and I had to try to tube the cow with a garden hose.