The Extremely Long Weekend!

I would like to be able to say we had a lovely relaxing long weekend this last October but we did not.  I’m sure that our troubles do not compare to those of some poor people at the minute but it certainly ruined any plans for leisurely walks and chats with our visitors.

It began with the discovery of Emma (the heifer, not Emma my sister) in distress after giving birth to a very large and quite dead calf.  I am told that a difficult birth and/or a large calf can lead to pinched nerves and hip pain sometimes, so I am assuming that is what happened to our poor beast.

The rest of the weekend became a series of manoeuvres in some unmentionable bodily fluids and mostly done by John and Jono (my long suffering brother-in-law, who is foolish enough to venture away from his office job at various intervals in the year to find himself landed with hard and monotonous physical labour).

After propping her in a “sitting” position, instead of flat on her side, and giving her as much water as she would take, we removed from her sight the distressing object of her dead baby.  The poor thing was then injected with a range of vitamins and minerals.

She had to be pushed or rolled from one side to the other every few hours to keep her circulation going and prevent pain and “bedsores”, and she would frequently attempt to rise only to flop over, so we all became experts at heaving her back up into sitting position again.  This job was a round-the-clock commitment, so John and Jono camped out with her and spent their nights sitting bolt upright in their makeshift beds every time she moaned, struggling in and out of pyjamas and filthy workclothes.  In accordance with John’s usual good luck, the rain we’d been needing for weeks arrived that first night.

At some point she started eating food again and when she did her first poo, we all, visitors included, cheered and clapped.  It just shows had sore, tired and depressed we all were, to the point of being slightly demented.  Still, restored digestion was a promising sign.

We tried getting her up in a “cow-sling” but she was most unco-operative, letting her bottom slide out the rear of the contraption, after our Herculean efforts to roll the 400+kg heffalump into it and get all the strapping sorted out, and refusing absolutely to put any weight on her feet.  We all stood there and argued with each other about why it wasn’t working, and after two more abortive attempts, we gave up and told her she had to get up on her own, preferably at her earliest convenience.

That night she went down hill fast.  We don’t know whether it was fever, exhaustion, pain or maybe she was just weary of our unwavering attentions.  John announced, in his most woeful tones, that her demise was imminent, so we all trooped up the hill to say “goodbye” (real business-like farmers will be laughing at us by now, but you must understand she was a pet).  Of course it was a scene of high melodrama, with all the children and Emma (my sister) and John and I in varying states of distress and tears.  The only ones in control of their emotions were Harry (who, being thirteen, probably had embarrassment to help him maintain outward calm) and Jono (who was probably secretly hoping she would die so he could, with a clear conscience, move back down to the house and relative comfort for the remainder the weekend).

John spent the night alone on the hill, cradling her head and waiting for the end (he did give up at 2am and went to sleep in the van nearby).  But she was unco-operative even in this, and sat up the next morning demanding food.  All the children were traumatised and we forbade John making any more dire predictions.

As the week progressed and after Emma (the sister) and Jono waved us an all-too-cheery goodbye, we managed to get Emma (the cow) into a trailer and down to the houseyard so she could be nursed more easily and she gradually improved.

On the twelfth day after we found her, she got up and wobbled about a bit.  We cheered even more than we had after the first poo.  She was ungainly, thin, had a terrible wound on her leg (from thrashing on the ground trying to stand in the early days) and had an eye infection, but she had lived.

She spent a week in the houseyard, having the run of half of the vege garden and the orchard.  Her walking style is now normal, the eye is open but still white and blind.  Her wound is not pretty but we’ve been spraying it with one of my dastardly, witchlike concoctions, not made in a cauldron, but containing such medieval things as colloidal silver, comfrey juice, aloe vera, magnesium, apple cider vinegar – but no eye of newt or wool of bat thankfully.

She has recovered amazingly in one month but hasn’t forgiven us for the vitamin injections and the doses of foul tasting things that we told her would help.  I must say I don’t blame her.  Still, a good deed never goes unpunished and she kicked John a few days ago – that’s gratitude for you.