Milk Fever

This has not been a very fun weekend, other than the birth of the new puppies on Friday (a fact that means my responsibilities increase until they go to their new homes). I admit I had a hard time on Thursday with it being Thanksgiving and missing Josh so much.

Thursday evening I sent Mike off to do a little hunting, something that he doesn't get to do much, and I took care of the feeding and milking. A lot of evenings I am just about finished with the chores when Mike gets home. He usually milks Maya while I bottle feed the calves. When I started to milk Maya on Thursday, she got very beligerent and kept kicking at me and kicking the milker. It was awful and because I was emotionally spent anyway, it was more than I could take. I started to cry, then sob and I couldn't settle down enough to deal with Maya. I think in reality the breakdown was what I needed to expel some of the pent up emotions that I had. In retrospect, I think Maya was acting out because she was starting to feel bad and because she could sense my tension.

Yesterday, Edy came in to be milked and she acted like she didn't care to be milked at all which is very unusual for her. I realized by last night that she has started to voluntarily dry off. It's almost time to dry her off anyway, because we give our cows a two month break from milking towards the end of their pregnancy. I was concerned about Edy all day and had her on my mind when I went out to start the chores last night. When I went around the corner, there was Maya who was obviously not doing well at all. She was stumbling and her eyes looked cloudy. I immediately suspected it was milk fever, although milk fever normally occurs very early in lactation.

When I realized that Maya needed immediate attention, I began yelling for Mike who came down to the barn. We called Mike's dad and he came up and gave Maya a bottle of Calcium subcutaniously and one in the vein. She is better today, but still doesn't act like she feels good. I didn't feel that I could leave her because I was afraid she would go down, so other than a run to Tractor Supply to get some Calcium/Magnesium paste to administer to her, in case she needs it again.

It's been raining here since last night. We really need the moisture as we are still in drought conditions, but it has made it most miserable to do the chores and milking and the mud and manure are an unbelievable mess! I had a lady call me that wanted to come and see the heifers that I have for sale and today was the only day that would suit her to do so. Normally, I like to keep Sundays as a family day and a day when we can do as little as possible, but it was obvious today was not going to be such a day anway, so I told her to come on and visit. I wanted to clean up a bit and seperate the heifers from the other animals and put them in where it was dry. By the time I had done so and then visited with the lady for a while outside in the rain and then finished up by doing evening chores and milking, I had been outside in the damp cold for hours and was chilled to the bone.

It sure feels good to be inside now in the easy chair with a warm blanket over me. Now, unless I have another emergency, the only thing that will interrupt me tonight will be Hunter, my male dachshund who is missing his girlfriend, Hope, who is busy with the babies. He wakes up the entire house about every two hours barking his disapproval at his current circumstances!

Did I mention that I LOVE farming? I wouldn't trade it for the world!


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Milk fever, post-parturient hypocalcemia, or parturient paresis is a disease of dairy cows, characterized by reduced blood calcium levels.
It is most common in the first few days of
lactation, when demand for calcium for milk production exceeds the body's ability to mobilize calcium reserves.
Fever" is a misnomer, as body temperature during the disease is usually below normal. Low blood calcium levels interfere with muscle function throughout the body, causing general weakness, loss of appetite, and eventually heart failure.

Hypocalcemia is more common in older animals (who have reduced ability to mobilize calcium from bone) and in certain breeds (such as Jersey cattle).
Hypocalcemia, like milk fever, occurs occasionally at any time during the lactation or pregnancy and in many mammalian species.

In mild cases, the animal seems quite normal, but has difficulties to stay. If the cow succeeds in rising, she staggers, and will very soon fall. The cow's appetite can be maintained at that stage. Body temperatures are from 37 to 38.5°C (normal range 38-38.5°C). This stage, referred to as "first degree", corresponds to calcemiae of 55 to 75 mg/l.
In typical cases, the cow's head is in a so-called self-auscultation position.
Mydriasis is often present. The heart can be slow or arrhythmic. The body temperature is 35 to 37°C. In that stage, referred to as "second degree", calcium levels in the blood are of 30 to 65 mg/l.
In advanced cases, the cow is lying on its side, seeming dead. The body temperature can go as low as 32°C. This is the 3rd degree, with calcemia as low as 20 mg/l.

Treatment generally involves calcium injection by intravenous, intramuscular or subcutaneous routes. Various commercial preparations are available for this purpose.
Intravenous calcium, though indicated in many cases, is potentially fatal through "heart blockade", or transient high calcium levels stopping the heart, so should be administered with care.
In unclear cases of
downer cows, intravenous calcium injection can lead to diagnosis. The typical reaction will be a generalized tremor of the skeletal muscles, and sometimes cardiac arrhythmia. Defecation, urination and eructation are frequent during the treatment, due to pharmacological effect of calcium on the smooth muscles. In stage I and II, The cow can stand up approximately 10 minutes after the end of the intravenous injection. But in stage III, it may take two or three hours.
The prognosis is generally good, even in advanced cases. However, some patients can relapse the following day, and even a third time the day after.


Hope's Puppies Arrived Today!!!!

Hope's latest litter of puppies arrived this morning. Mom and pups seem to be doing well. Three boys and two girls this time. For more pictures, visit the following link:


Puppy Picture

It won't be long until this little guy comes home. It dawned on me today that his mother's name is Ember and his Father's name is Pepper. Maybe I should name him "Hot Pepper"!


This Week's Lessons & Lessons Re-Visited

I was thinking this morning as I was shoveling poop (a great way to meditate, by the way, for those who have not tried it) that this week has been full of lessons. Some of them are new lessons but most have been reminders. (I tend to be forgetful sometimes.) So, here's a run down of this weeks lessons, old and new:

1) Five cows, five calves, three heifers, and one bull make a lot of poop.

2) Dogs like to roll in cow poop and Sadie, especially likes to chew on the dried poop and eat the calves poop. (Gotta love a farm dog!)

3) It takes a long time to milk four cows, process the milk and clean up after milking!

4) Dogs and skunks don't mix.

5) Nothing really takes the smell of skunk off a dog.

6) Nothing really takes the smell of skunk out of your house when you have Doxies who are house dogs and the weather is too cold to leave them out side after they have been sprayed.

7) Three week old chicks eat a lot of feed and poop a lot.

8) Laying hens don't like short days, cold weather and biting wind.

9) Brownies get hard when left in the oven too long.

10) My husband will eat three fresh apple cakes in one week.

11) A single strand of electric wire does little to keep a young bull from leaving home.

12) Sciatica is a pain in the behind.

13) An good adjustment from a chiropractor is better than any medicine.

14) When you are friends, ten years of absence means nothing. One can just pick up where one left off.

15) After three years of marriage, my husband loves me very much and I love him.

16) My children and step-children are precious.

17) I am blessed beyond belief and God is good.

18) Family and friends are always there for me.

19) I miss my Josh very much.

20) I can lose more weight in the winter by shovelling poop than I do in the summer by working the garden.


Three Years of Bliss!

Three years ago today Mike and I were married. In some ways, our marriage seems so right and we are so comfortable with each other that it feels like we have been together forever. On the other hand, it's hard to believe that three years have gone by! I am truly blessed.



Sugar is four months old now and really a sweetie! She is 3/4 Jersey and 1/4 Dutch Belted.


No Bull!!!!

Mike and I woke up this morning to a light snow on the ground, blowing wind, and cold temps. We went out and began the morning chores and milking. I was milking Edy when Mike said, "I don't see Peanut. I am going to look for him." I think the words, "Oh crap" escaped from my lips. Peanut obviously went over the wire and was out gallivanting around somewhere.
We have two pastures for our cows. One of the pastures is fenced in very well with four strands of electric wire. The other pasture just has a single strand of electric wire. We have been playing "musical cows" recently with all the new calves and with the young heifers that I don't want bred and the cows that I do want bred. Anyway, in order to not mix company, Peanut had been put in the less secure pasture.
Mike went down the driveway and saw that Peanut had pooped in the driveway, a sure sign that he had run away from home toward the front of the house. Mike looked and could not find Peanut. When Mike came back and told me, I was really upset. I could just see my Miniature Jersey bull tearing down someone's fence, being hit by a car on the paved road, or breeding someone's prize Angus heifer! I think a few words other than "Oh crap!" escaped from my lips. I promptly felt remorseful and prayed a quick prayer that Peanut would not get into trouble.
I was close to finished with all the chores when my eye caught a lonely figure standing outside the "good" fence at the back of the house. Peanut stood there calmly chewing his cud. Now how did that crazy bull get on that side of the good fence when he had left the house down the driveway at the front of the house?
We determined that Peanut went down the driveway, across the hay fields, down the gravel road and then back into the woods.
(Remember the stray heifer that showed up at our house a few weeks ago? Well, when Mike went back to try to get the bull, he saw the heifer against the fence in heat. We don't share a fence line with these cattle. There is actually a strip of woods between us that is owned by someone else. Anyway, evidently Peanut was missing the runaway heifer and "knew" where she was. He was not able to get to her through the second fence, thank goodness.)
Next, Mike went down to the woods and began to herd Peanut back to the house. However, Peanut refused to turn back into our field and went on down through the woods and to another neighbor's house and then retraced his steps and ended up back of our place again. Mike yelled for me to come and help him. We tried again and Peanut went back up to the neighbor's fence line where the runaway heifer lives and then back down to our fence line again. This time, Mike was able to get him to walk the fence line and I was able to head him off and get him to go back into our field.
The next step was to get him from the hay field into the pasture. Instead of going through the gate, he continued out into the field and we walked him all the way down to our driveway. The plan was to walk him up our driveway and back into the front pasture until we could get him into the back pasture with the good fence. About the time he got several feet away from the driveway he turned and ran towards me. I jumped in front of him and turned him back. He thought about going up the driveway at that point but hesitated and turned and bolted again. This time, I knew he wasn't stopping and I jumped quickly out of the way. He out into the field and Mike ran after him. This time we started pushing him in the opposite direction back toward the gate we had tried to get him to enter originally when he came out of the woods. Mike had closed that gate so that the other cows wouldn't escape. I ran ahead to get the gate open and turned to find that Peanut was actually following me. He followed me down the length of the fence and walked into the gate just as pretty as you please!
I have to say I was extremely proud of Sadie, our Corgi, during this whole process. Although she has not been formally trained to herd, and although she is young and has a long way to go to be a "herd" dog , she did a great job of staying with us, working the bull and remaining calm and quiet when I told her to.
After all of that, my sciatic nerve problems have returned today and I am "limping" around trying to get the evening chores completed. Thank goodness I am going to the chiropractor on Thursday!


Two Months


Two months ago today you went to live with your Heavenly Father. It's so hard living here on earth without your laugh, your smile, and the way you would tease me. I have no doubt you are having a wonderful time and just waiting for the rest of us to join you some day in Heaven. We missed you today when we had an early Thanksgiving celebration with Mike's family. Thanksgiving was your favorite holiday. I'm so thankful for the 18 years we shared. I will be forever blessed to be called your mother.

I love you,



All Dressed Up

Mike's daughter Kristin and her boyfriend Nate are here this weekend. Nate is in his friend's wedding tonight.


My Precious Heifer

Those of you who have followed my posts for a while may know, but other's may not know, that out of six bovine births, I have had six bull calves in the last two years since I started keeping family cows. I have wanted my very own heifer calf so badly from one of my girls. Tonight is a special night........Maya gave me a beautiful baby girl!

What makes it even more special is that I had a buyer for Maya when she was short bred. I even went so far as to have all the health work done by the vet so that she could travel out of state with her new owners. I got cold feet about selling her because I had become so attached to her but wanted to honor my side of the deal. The prospective buyers ended up backing out on me even though it meant losing their deposit, and I knew that Maya had a forever home with me. It was just meant to be.

Now, besides loving my Maya so much, I see that it was meant to be, so that I could finally get my heifer calf.

Maya is a registered Jersey and the sire of the calf is a Registered Miniature Jersey.

When Mike looked at the calf and told me it was a girl, I cried! I am so happy!

Sticking with the spanish names, I am think of naming her Nina (child/infant) La Chica (Little Girl) or Tia (Aunt in Spanish or Princess in Greek).



Another one of Hope and Hunter's pups from a past litter. This is Sassy and she lives with her new momma in Broadway, Virginia.



I sent an email to some of the folks that I have sold puppies to and asked them to send pictures that I could post on my blog.

Here are a few from Emily. She said, "Thank you for giving me the most precious thing in my life." when telling me how much Vienna means to her. (I will admit that made the tears come to my eyes. Nothing makes me happier than knowing the animals I have sold are bringing so much joy and that they are being loved so much in return!)
Vienna and her Emily live in West Virginia.


Long Day

I woke up this morning at 4 am when Hunter was barking and could not go back to sleep. So, I went ahead and fed the peeps that were still in the tub, let the dogs out, folded clothes and checked my email (Thanks, Corinne for the wonderful email that I have not had a chance to respond to yet!) I then lay back down on the bed thinking I would rest for about 30 minutes. I woke up an hour later! Oops! I jumped up, dressed and went to feed and milk the cows, feed and let out the free range hens, tend to the calves, tend to the dogs and clean up the milking equipment. I then jumped in the shower, then put on some makeup and without drying my hair took off for my trip to Roanoke to go to Sam's Club with my friend, Liz. When I started down the driveway, I realized the electric fence was down, turned around, got what I needed to fix the fence, walked to the barn to turn of the electric, walked back down to where the fence was down, repaired it, and walked back to the barn to turn the electric back on. Then I jumped in the car again and headed an hour and forty five minutes down the road to Roanoke. Liz and I had a good time at Sam's Club shopping and stocking up on essentials. I have not shopped at Sam's in years. I use to stock up 6 months worth of groceries when I lived in Alaska. Of course now we have all our own beef, and fruits and veggies in the freezer and canned.

After going to Sam's we went back to Liz's house and had pizza and then it was time for me to get on the road again. I needed to get home before dark and take care of the animals. I got home and it took me a while to unload the groceries and it was almost dark when I started milking. Mike came and helped me finish with the animals but then we had to set up a pen with a light for the peeps to get them out of the bathroom that was now starting to smell like a poultry house. It took us until almost 8 to get that set up and the peeps moved to their new home. One little peep doesn't look like she is going to make it. She's pretty lifeless right now. They are so fragile.

After leftovers for Mike and a sandwich for me, I decided to let everything else go until tomorrow.


Peeps in the Bathtub!

My sister in law called me this morning and said that the FFA teacher had some peeps that hatched out last week and they needed to find them a home. Of course, I said yes. I was suppose to get them tomorrow, but my sister-in-law came by bringing them in a little doggie crate this afternoon. I had no idea how cold they were, or when they had something to eat or drink. I brought them inside and put them in the warmest spot I could find..........the bathroom downstairs. I transferred them from the crate to a cardboard box and gave them some food and water. I then rushed out to get the evening chores completed before dark. Mike came home and wanted to know what I was going to do with the chicks and I told him until at least tomorrow, they are staying in the bathtub!


Baby Dachshunds On the Way

I didn't want to post until I was sure but now there is no doubt. Hope and Hunter are expecting a litter of puppies this month. I had originally planned on giving Hope a break and not breeding her this time around. However, Hope came into heat right after Josh's death and I was not in a position to seperate the two dogs at the time, so we will have pups. Hope is doing very well. She is healthy and bouncy.

I have posted pictures of some of her former litters so you can see how cute they are! I will start a waiting list, so anyone interested in purchasing a puppy, just let me know! I have requested pictures from owners of her past litters. Hopefully I will have some to post here soon.


New Angus/Holstein Baby Picture

I have not decided what to name her yet, but found out that Melony & Layla both mean "black beauty". I am leaning towards one of those names.


Our New Angus/Holstein Heifer Calf

Our friends Sam and Charles that own a dairy (the famer's for whom Samantha and Charlie, the Holstein twins are named) called Mike Friday morning and wanted to know if we wanted another calf. We have been trying all weekend to get her, but due to our water problems were not able to pick her up until this afternoon. By the time we got her home, it was time to milk and the poor baby was hungry, so we had to get her on Dixie right away and get her something to eat. It was dark by the time the chores were finished and I wasn't able to get pictures, but I will get some and post them tomorrow.

She is spunky and loud. Her mother is a Holstein that found love with the neighbor's Angus bull. Since she was not purbred, she was not wanted at the dairy and has found a happy home here with us! A Holstein/Angus cross will make a great family cow! She is almost as tall as the older calves already, and was not afraid to push her way up to the dinner table amongst the other hungry calves. She is dairy in confirmation but almost solid black. She has a thin thread of white on one leg (you have to look hard to see it) and a little patch of white on her belly.

I have not named her yet.


More Pictures of Puppies

Ok, Here's another picture of puppies number 1 & 2.
Anyone else with a comment on which one to choose? Anyone want to change their minds on previous choices? :-)
Still thinking of names. I have a calf named Samantha and I call her Sammy, so that name is already used. Alissa thinks I should call him Seth.

Ghostly Cows & Flashbacks

I spent Halloween night in the pasture amongst the ghostly images of cattle. The flashlight would not stay charged and it was hard to make out the outline of the bovines. A flash of light and I see the bull. He has never been aggressive towards me but I am not taking any chances. I move to the other side of the truck. As I come around the back of the truck I come face to face with a big bovine. I don't know who is more startled. She stopped in her tracks. I turned her around and led her back to the Rubbermaid tub we were using as a watering trough. We normally have a nice fountain that does not freeze in the winter time and supplies constant water for the cattle. Unfortunately, with our well out, this wonderful luxury ceased to work. (See yesterday's post for the beginning of our water problems.)

Mike had borrowed a big tank and put it in the back of his truck and went to the spring several miles away to get water for the cows. We were fortunate to have access to a tank we could borrow and a spring where we could get the water.

As I am waiting for the well to be repaired, I am very carefully heating water to wash a few dishes & wash my face and hands. It was fun trying to wash the milker out without running water. As I conserve water today it reminds me of a time when I had so careful with water.................a time when we hauled all of our water in because we didn't have any plumbing in our house.

For a while when I lived in Alaska, I lived in a cabin without any plumbing or running water. What an experience that was! We had an outhouse but when the temps dipped to 40, 50 & 60 below zero, we resorted to using a portable potty. All of our water had to be hauled in and there was an artesian well close by where a lot of the locals got their water. The area we lived in was called named "Goldstream", a little community outside of Fairbanks. Most people in the area either had water delivered to them, or hauled their own water because well water was too nasty too use.

What an experience it was dressing two young children (gosh they must have been maybe three and four years old) in all their winter gear and putting them in the little grey Geo Metro along with every container we could find to put fresh water in.

Sometimes we would have to wait in line at the spring. Ice and snow was frozen all around but in the center would be fresh water bubbling up. We would fill our containers and haul them back to the Geo. When we would put the cold water in the warm car the windows would start to fog up and freeze on the inside. The ride home was spent scraping little patches in the ice so that we could see to drive. Once home, we had to haul all of that water inside so that it did not freeze.

Hauling the water was just part of the work! I had an old fashioned ringer washer. I would heat my water on the stove and pour it into the ringer washer and wash my clothes. I would then have to haul all that dirty water back outside, away from the house and dump it. It would freeze almost instantly and we had a nice thick hill coated with ice that the kids could slide down! Inside, I had a clothes line strung across the front of the balcony and I would hang my clothes there to dry.

Even though we had to haul all our water, I was obsessive compulsive about being clean. I would heat water and pour it into a big tub and bathe the kids in it every day. I would also use the tub myself to bathe and wash my hair.

Of course I had to heat the water for dishes and then carry it out and dump it as well. Gathering water, heating water, dumping water..........my days became an endless circle that all revolved around water!

These flashbacks to more difficult times only serve to remind me how good I have it today and how minor this inconvenience is with the well.

With any luck, I will be taking a nice hot shower sometime soon!