It has not been a banner four days.  Wednesday evening at around 9:30 Penny had her calf: a heifer!  That was very exciting.  They both seemed fine so we elected to leave them together overnight.  Around 5 AM Wally went down with me to pick up the calf and bring her up to put her in a dry place (it was forecast to be cold and rain all day). I planned to go back out at around 6 AM and milk both cows, which I did.

I expected Penny to be up top with Moon looking for her calf.  She was not.  I went back down below and she was still lying down and would not get up.  Immediately I called the vet that we normally use and called Wally at work asking him to come home, which he did.

The veterinarian came and treated Penny for milk fever which is a condition common in Jersey cows, although Penny has never had it.  She had been on high quality minerals including kelp throughout her dry period and was being fed enough to keep her in condition prior to calving.  The treatment includes giving her a bottle of calcium intravenously.  The vet told me to check back with her in a few hours, which I did.  Penny was not up.  She told me to give her a tube of calcium via mouth, which I did and to call her after lunch.  I did.  She then said she could not give her any more calcium intravenously or via her rumen for risk of her having a heart attack and that I should go and try to find a neighbor with a tractor to try to lift her up and get her feet under her.  Wally and I went to our two neighbors, neither of which were home; however, we felt quite strongly that our ability to get her up even with a tractor was not going to be possible.  The vet called me again around 4 to tell me that the senior veterinarian said to come and give her another bottle of calcium.  Unfortunately, I missed the call (I was down with Penny feeding her and putting straw around her to keep her warm and dry) and did not see the voice mail until around 6.  When I called back, that vet was off duty.  The senior veterinarian called me, leaving a message to tell  me that he was too busy to come out; that he had a heifer of his own to treat and to feed his bulls before it got dark.  I called another veterinarian that does house calls, but he never called me back.

Penny never got up again and Wally put her down around lunchtime on Friday and she is now buried in the pasture.

The feeling of helpless overwhelmed both Wally and I. It devastated both of us.  Penny was our favorite cow and to not be able to do anything to help her and to be at the mercy of veterinarians who are too busy to come out when we need them and to not be able to get a 1,000+ animal up was just too much.  I put the rest of the cows (Moon, Peach, Badger and Penny’s new calf) along with the milking machine for sale and they all went to their new home yesterday morning.

I honestly thought they were going to a good place and maybe they did, but I’ve heard nothing since they’ve left, even though the new owner assured me she’d let me know they got home safely and how they were doing.  I should not be surprised.  There is a big lack of consideration in human beings these days.

I am lost without my routine of milking, but I believe this was the best decision for both Wally and me.  We did well selling raw milk, but it is illegal and very, very, very labor intensive. It is best that we are out of it.

All next week I am off school and it is supposed to be cloudy and rainy all week long.  That ought to be very conducive to my black mood. At least it will be warmer and I can start to get crops in the ground and seeds started in the greenhouse. At least if a tomato plant or even a whole crop of vegetables dies, you do not have the time, money and emotion tied up in it that you do with a cow.  I guess the best I can do all week is to work myself into exhaustion.

“… it is, after all, not necessary to fly right into the middle of the sun, but it is necessary to crawl to a clean little spot on earth where the sun sometimes shines and one can warm oneself a little.”

~~~~~~~~~ Franz Kafka

Rest in peace sweet Penny.  I know in my heart that you had a good life while you were here with me and if it were not for me buying you from the dairy when you were down with a fractured stifle, that you’d be just another one of those dairy cows hauled to the processing plant.  A lot of people enjoyed your wonderful personality and your precious milk.

Until later …