Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bovine Babysitting

I get a call at work on Monday morning...
Jake:  What would you say if I ruined your electric blanket?
Me: Umm... well... that depends on what you are going to ruin it for.
Jake: A $1000.00 calf.
Me:  You BETTER ruin my $40.00 electric blanket!

This was a new first for this farm wife.  I have never had a calf in my shower before, or under my electric blanket.  We named him Jack Frost because he was born on a bitter cold morning and had to fight for his life.  Jake brought him in and ran through all our hot water, dried him off, put a plastic tablecloth over him, and then put the electric blanket on him to get him to warm up.  His temp was 70 degrees when he was brought in.  Normal is 101.5.  He was near death.  Jake had to go to work that night... my new job title became bovine babysitter.  Or you could just think of it as a farm wife duty.  Whichever you prefer.

 Jake even got out my hair dryer and blow dried him in all the small crevices.
 Then he built him a place on the floor at the bottom of the stairs in our basement.  I had a big fear that Jack would decide to get up in the middle of the night and be roaming around the house, or come lick my face in bed... I am being totally honest here!  Jake assured me this would not happen and left for work.
He set up a heater on the stairs, which made me extremely nervous given the close proximity to the hay.  If the calf got up and bumped our old rickety stairs and the heater fell over, I would have a problem.  SInce this made me so nervous, Jake said I could shut the heater off if Jack's temp got over 100.  So I dutifully used a rectal thermometer every hour.  I couldn't sleep anyway for fear of the fire, so I got a lot of reading done.  I shut the heater off about 12:30am and went to bed.  Jake got home at 6:30 and his temp was 100.8 so we took him outside to Mama.  Mama Bessie decided she wasn't all that interested and Jack was too weak to stand up and Jake needed to be leaving for Salina for a conference.  Jake didn't think this calf would still be alive when I got home from work.  I left work early since I was feeling extremely bad for baby.  Jack was still alive, but his temp was back down to 94.  I couldn't get anywhere close to him with Mama in the pen so I ran her to the chute and frantically called Jake to see what I needed to do.  Milk her??? What???  So, I tried.  And I tried again.  And again.  All I got was messy hands and an upset cow.  What now?
Call the father-in-law to the rescue!  Dad came over, milked her and fed Jack.  We set up a heat lamp and warm pen for him in the milk barn.  He got up a few times on his own and we thought it was promising.  He was still good this morning.  This afternoon Dad fed her a little bit, went to finish the rest of the chores and came back to feed him a little more.  He was dead.  This is not how I imagined this story ending and I will admit I got a little teary eyed.  We had bonded over those feedings and rectal temps.  I thought maybe, just maybe I would be that great farmers wife that had a special touch with the animals.  Alas... it was not meant to be.
Sorry this got so long and I commend you if you read the entire post!  Have a blessed day!


  1. : ) If only you would have a picture of you taking a rectal temp-tehe, great story even though such a sad ending :'(

  2. Ha! That would be a picture worth a thousand words!