Thursday, May 16:

   So, as for the final shake-down regarding metritis and retained placentas in cows, particularly and specifically, more-trouble-than-half-a-dozen-other-cows old Jerseys named Isabel:

   Summarizing the situation:  Isabel birthed prematurely a still-born calf two months before she was due.  Since she did not birth her placenta, a fact we were able to determine by internal examination, as not finding an afterbirth in the paddock was just exactly no proof there had been no placenta birthed, since the good Lord for reasons of His own but susceptible to ready speculation, has decreed that cows, as most mammals but not us, thank Him, may consume their placentas after calving; and anyway there are a great many large crows nesting in the woods north of the monastery pastures, and also vultures, so that any carrion of any kind might not wait around even twelve hours for us to find it but might be scavenged before we got there – since, as we say, Isabel did not birth her placenta after losing her calf, and since her temperature of one hundred-three degrees, taken after birthing, was marginally high for a bovine, although perhaps not one that has labored long under a bright sun, we were advised by our wonderful  veterinarian to treat her as though for a uterine infection.  Our protocol was as follows:

1)  twice daily doses of penicillin:  12 cc’s in the neck muscle (always put intramuscular injections in the least expensive cuts!);

2)  on alternate days, 5 cc’s of lutalyse intramuscular, or two iodine boluses, intrauterine;

3)  daily temperature recording (it was always thereafter under one-oh-three);

4)  twice daily, or when we thought of it, a little milking to stimulate uterine contractions.

   As has been reported elsewhere, this treatment did not produce a placenta, although it may well have contributed to Isabel’s fast recovery otherwise, i.e., that she was soon grazing, strolling, chewing her cud, etc, as though there was nothing at all wrong with her.  After a week of waiting without issue, we reported back to P., the wonderful vet.

   “She’ll be fine,” she told us.  “You’ll probably never see a placenta.  It will just rot and come out piecemeal; or she’ll have a sort of benign metritis, passing clots of what looks like a sort of pasty cottage cheese.”

   So that’s what that stuff was; we had been wondering.  Blobs of lumpy white stuff here and there in the paddock.  We are grateful to omit the twice-daily injections; they had cost us quite a lot in syringes and needles.

   But what a lot this one chancy cow has taught us.