Rest in Peace Sweet Guinevere

Yesterday afternoon when we got home from the Farmer’s Market, I took the goats down to the lower pasture.  As I went through the cow paddock, Gwen was lying on the hill and Penny decided she was going to go down below with the goats.  I figured she’d go into the pasture and turn around and come back out when the two calves attacked her.  They are milk-sucking vampires.  Nope.  Instead she whirled quick as a cat and butted them away from her.  Then she started twirling and bucking!  I about fell down laughing!  This cow came to me with a fractured stifle.  She appeared to recover, then relapsed, but lately, she’s been doing really well.  Honestly, I thought she was going to have to make a trip to the processor after she calved in March, but it seems she’s going to be just fine.  There’s no swelling around the injury and she is walking without a limp.  I called our vet and left a message telling him what she did.  He likes to hear good news.

An hour or so later, I went down to feed Gwen.  I poured her oats and alfalfa into a tub and waited for her to get up.  She started to get up so I left and came back a few minutes later.  She was still lying there.  I went over to push her up, wanting her to eat before Penny came up.  She got up and as soon as she stood I could see something was terribly wrong.  Her good rear leg was twisted up under her body.  I got her to walk a few steps, but that’s all she could do.  Looking further, I discovered her ankle was twisted inward.

Wally and I discussed what to do.  All we have is a 22 rifle.  We’ve seen a cow shot with a 22 rifle and it doesn’t do the job.  Plus, what to do with her body?  I called my neighbor who has a back hoe and asked if he’d dig a grave for her and then called my vet with bad news.  He called back in about ten minutes and asked how I wanted her put down.  I told him in the best way for Gwen.  Chemical euthanasia is better for the humans, but the chemicals he had on hand were for horses and he didn’t know if they’d work for cows.  He said he really didn’t like shooting her, but that he felt it was the kindest thing for Gwen.  He said he had company, but would be down shortly.

Unfortunately, the first shot did not kill her.  I feel that he shot her where he should have and he said normally the first shot drops them, but not this time.  It took four shots to do the deed.  You can imagine how horrible the experience was for everyone.  Euthanizing an animal, especially one as beloved as Gwen was, is terribly difficult and traumatic for all involved.

My neighbor arrived shortly thereafter and dug a grave for Gwen in an area where she liked to lie in the summer.  This morning, at the time when I’d normally be milking her, was hard.  I wasn’t sure what to do so I went down and loved on Penny.  She’s become a very sweet cow.  While the vet was here, he did another pregnancy check on her and at first scared me because he said he didn’t think she was pregnant, but with a little more time, he felt the calf.  Thank God.  That would have been a blow I couldn’t have handled.

Rest in peace sweet Gwen, you were the best milk cow anyone could have asked for.  Please light a candle for Gwen to ease her journey to green pastures where she can run, romp and raise her calves.

Until later …