Wednesday, February 27:
Yesterday was a very exciting day. Yesterday we were filled with a sense of great things coming.
No wonder I feel afraid of life today.
Yesterday we had the vet out. We do not often have the vet out; in order for us to do what we do we have to minimize expenses like veterinary visits, which doesn’t exactly sit well with the vet, although I daresay she understands it. But we called her Sunday night and asked her to palpate two cows, and Tuesday morning she came. We brought the cows one by one and put them in the stanchion and she reached them both with the ultrasound machine, and there were calves in both of them.
Well, Mr. M. did try to tell me that an amateur can’t reach a cow reliably. He gave me the following piece of information which, for those of us with cows, is significant: a cow can show distinct signs of being in heat – standing to be mounted, mounting other cows, sweaty back, vulvular discharge, being off her feed and dropping in milk production – even when she is carrying a calf. Polly, our vet, said the same. She said you just don’t really know unless you have her preg checked, which may mean palpation – feeling the calf in the uterus through the rectal wall – or a blood test, or a sonogram.
Such was the situation with Poppy and Sugar, the two new cows from Mr. M.
Or, another case in point.
Isabel, our lead cow, caused great disappointment around Christmas by going into heat. She went off her feed, and dropped ‘way down in milk production for a couple of days, then popped back up and was normal. Three weeks later she did the same thing, showing typical signs of heat. It was obvious she had either, 1) not taken to the A.I. in October, perhaps from a hormonal inadequacy, or 2) subsequently lost her calf, probably by reabsorption due to a lack of estrogen, the same lack which might be responsible for a failure to take to the artificial insemination.
Three weeks later, she did it again.
Isabel is an old cow, basically a big bag of grass on legs, and her belly is huge. Polly saw her yesterday and asked when she was due. We told her she wasn’t. We explained our disappointment, and Isabel’s calfless state.
“Are you sure?” asked Polly.
Were we, we asked ourselves.
There was a calf in there too.
Jubilation. Rejoicing. Much laughter and elation, and a phone call to Mr. M. to tell him we were sorry to have caused him trouble but we were delighted to find that the lovely cows he had sold us were, indeed, with calf. Mr. M. is very understanding and encouraging of ignorant beginners, and seems to bear us no ill-will.
Crow tastes good.
And today I am panic-stricken in spurts that this expansion, long in consideration, is actually underway.