|During March, the snow level has dropped a lot. April 1 at my friend's house in town.|
|On March 1, only the top pole could be seen. This is April 1. Lots of snow has melted.|
Jim waded into the water and stood the calf up. He put his fingers into the calf's mouth. The calf weakly tried to suck on his fingers but her mouth was cold. This is an indication that the calf had not fed and this calf was too weak to stand to suck from her mother. Jim loaded her up into the cab of the tractor and brought her to the house. She was weak, wet, cold, dehydrated and shivering. (Shivering a is mechanism used by mammals to generate heat within their body but it does use what energy stores the animal has.) The first order of business was to get some energy and fluids into the calf. For cases like this, we keep powdered electrolytes to mix with warm water. There are two methods of getting the electrolytes into the calf, through the mouth or through a needle inserted into directly into their vein. ( Humans use electrolytes for the same purpose and get them in the same manner; think Gatorade.) We give our calves electrolytes through the mouth. Because she was so weak and cold, she could have only about a cup at a time.
Between the feedings of electrolytes and then colostrum, the calf needed to be warmed and dried. When drying a cold, wet calf, you begin with lots and lots of towels, You rub and rub. This, however, only gets the surface moisture off and the calf is still cold. Much of the wetness has come off the legs, tail and ears; but the thicker hair around the core is still very wet. The core is that area which covers the heart, stomach, and other organs. If the calf it to get warm, you need to warm the core (Underside of the calf ) If you get the blood warm in that area, the warm blood is pumped to the rest of the body and this warms all parts of the calf. This is when you bring out the blow dryers. It takes a long time to dry a calf if you are using only one hair dryer. The fastest we have ever dried a calf is 20 minutes when I called three neighbors to bring their hairdryers and four of us worked on one calf at the same time. Jim, because he was alone, had to alternate between feeding and drying the calf and it took most of the evening.
Early the next morning, the calf was returned to her mother. The mother had been looking all over for her calf and was delighted to get her back. It was another cold, wet, windy, day but all the calves were bouncing around, chasing each other, snuggling in the hay, and feeding; except for the calf that had gotten to come to the house. Due to her being born in water and nearly drowning,she just didn't have the energy to keep up with her mother. She was standing with her head down to her knees, wet and shivering by the second feeding of the day. She just wasn't going to make it on her own. She got to come up and join the first bucket calf. Once we got her strong enough to stand and feed on her own, the bond between her mother and her was broken. She would have to become a full time bucket calf. We had the same options for her as the first calf; instead of going to the grandkids, she was going to live in Craig and get a new cow mother. Yesterday, April 2, the calf left for her new home. It is our obligation to make sure that every calf gets a good start and is a healthy calf.
|This calf is healthy and ready to be adopted by another mother cow in the low country.|
|A sign of spring, the snow gets rough on top.|
The end of March has seen a lot of changes in the snowpack. The snow depth has begun to fall as the snow melts. One sign of spring is the golden willows change color. They go from gray sticks along the river and creek banks to an actual yellow gold. The surface of the snow changes from smooth to bumpy and the texture of the snow goes from a fine powder to coarse sugar granules and the snowballs go from smooth easily packed balls to hard to pack ice balls. When the snow melts, it melts from underneath. Under the crusty surface, the snow becomes like a honeycomb, lots of air pockets with a crust on top. It becomes impossible to walk on the crust and even the lightest weight breaks through. Only the fox can maneuver across the crust on a warm afternoon.
|Snow melts from underneath. In April water runs everywhere.|
April is so changeable. The first of April had sunshine and temperatures in the low 50's. The second of April had sunshine and temperatures in the high 50'. Today, April 3, wasn't a nice day on the ranch. It was cold with a blizzard of wet snow. We have been monitoring the animals all day, making sure their mothers are well fed, that each calf is well cared for and warm. Tonight, the twin will have a guest. One calf seems to be weaker than the most and can use a night out of the cold and wet. He will be brought up to the shed late at night, given supplemental feed both night and morning and returned to his mother in the morning. We have found that our cows will take their calves back if we keep them only 12 hours at a time.
|April 3 brings a blizzard with cold wet snow. Maybe the sun will shine tomorrow.|