September 16, 2014

Searching for Sick Calves

When there are extreme temperature differences calves tend to get sick. They get pneumonia and it doesn't take long for them to die. Last Monday the high was in the lower 90's. By Wednesday night there was a frost warning and we were in the mid 30's. That is a huge temperature swing and so I spent a few days riding around searching for any sick calves. The best way to tell if a calf is sick is by knowing what a healthy calf looks like and acts like. A sign of a healthy animal is stretching when they stand up. Licking themselves, you can see where their hair has been wet and looks brushed aside. Chewing their cud. Nursing their mother. Sick calves can be hard to identify if you haven't been around them a lot. It's kind of hard to explain. Ears start to droop, just slightly. If you didn't know what you were looking for you'd miss it completely. I certainly have. Their back hunches up with all four feet closer than normal. They just look... different. So the little boy and I took off on a rather chilly, wet morning to search for any sicklies.  The mist was settling in as we approached the canyon.
 This is a great looking calf. Replacement heifer prospect for sure.
 This calf is a bit younger than the first so a little smaller. Here's that stretch I was talking about. All the calves I got up that day stretched just like this.
 A few sights along the way. I just LOVE this canyon pasture we are renting.
Some time soon I will do a post on this beautiful homestead I would buy for my dad if I was a millionaire. Yep, I'd walk right up to the owner and buy it from him, whatever he wanted. Anything for the old man. He'd become a hermit there and be perfectly happy for the 
rest of forever.

Ok fine, here's a sneak peak. This picture was on a different, sunny day. This is from the outside of the fence. I don't dare go in yet without permission, even though it's not lived in year round. I'm afraid I'd get caught on a trail camera or something.  You can't see much from here, but it's beautiful. I absolutely love the old windmill well. It looks disconnected, but neat still.
 Onward we ride. This is an old railroad bridge. Vehicles can cross it now. It's all heavy steel.
 There are a few lovely oak tree groves in this canyon. I like this tree.
 Hanging out. The one red calf on the right is licking itself- a good sign! Lots of healthy calves is a good indicator nothing is sick. There are exceptions of course.
 The trail isn't the greatest. The wet made it slick and I was sick of whacking tree branches and dodging ruts, so I did some trail clearing. Got the blood pumping and warmed me up. Too bad the little one was still cold.
We couldn't find all the cows, so we just hoped they were all healthy. The good thing about canyon pastures, despite the terrible fences, is they offer a lot of protection from the weather. I cheered up the little one by telling him we'd have hot chocolate when we got home. This recipe was an idea of a friend. I realized I bought some coconut milk for cheap at my hometown grocery store. They discount damaged items and the only thing that was wrong was a dent in the can.
 Thick, rich, creamy hot chocolate. The kind that sticks to your ribs like oatmeal. This was delicious! The wonderful thing about making it yourself, besides skipping all those non-food products, is you can determine how sweet you want it. I like dark chocolate so I added 1 1/2 Tablespoons cocoa and 2 Tablespoons sugar to the 13.5 ounces of coconut milk. I heated it on the stove top until it steamed and it was heaven! Certainly if you like milk chocolate you could add 2 1/2- 3 Tablespoons of sugar.
 While I indulged in the hot chocolate I thought to myself, "Even if there was a sick calf, what could I have done?" I can't doctor them by myself now, they are too big to wrestle." I still haven't convinced my husband of this medical dart gun, so it looks like I better write a letter to Santa this year, or maybe Uncle George. That's what my mom always calls a gift to yourself from yourself!
"You'll shoot your eye out kid!" You gotta admit, wouldn't you just be hoping for a sick animal so you could try this out?

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