Monday, February 14, 2011

More bovine updates

Here's the latest on the cows.

Matilda's inverted teat is still inverted. It's the weirdest thing. We've tried using a modified syringe to exert pressure; nothing doing. Next we tried the powerful suction of a shop vac; nothing doing. (Matilda is one patient cow, let me tell you.)

The best we can hope for is to get a stream of milk going, which actually happens on a quasi-regular basis. The funny thing is, the quarter is not warm (as in, fever-warm), and the milk when it squirts out is perfectly clean - not the slightest hint of mastitis. The quarter is still tight and full but she doesn't seem to be in any discomfort.

The teat doesn't squirt continuously (I wish it did!), but when it does squirt, there's a pretty good stream. Here's a puddle of milk with a trail where Matilda walked away.

One of you suggested mixing a little apple cider vinegar with Matilda's grain, and I've been faithfully doing that. Whether or not it's working, the fact is she has not had one iota - not even a hint - of mastitis so far! So thank you, whoever suggested the vinegar.

I just put in a call to the U.C. Davis Vet-Med Hospital (I'm a U.C. Davis alumni) and explained the issue to a professor with expertise in dairy cattle, and emailed him a photo of the teat in question. We'll see what his prognosis is.

Here's Pearly, Matilda's yearling calf, meeting her little brother for the first time.

"Aw Sis!"

Thor's scours has totally cleared up, by the way.

Whenever I milk Matilda, Don puts Thor on a lead rope and keeps him right next to his mama. This keeps both animals calm.

Then after every milking, Don walks Thor around on the lead rope to start training him. The first few times, Thor braced himself. Little calves are strong! But Don patiently lets Thor brace himself until he realizes it's a lot more comfortable to stop fighting.

After an initial bit of stubbornness, he walks quite nicely on a lead rope. We've been walking him two or three times a day.

Yesterday when we got home from church, we found Thor had gotten into the hay barn and had somehow managed to wedge himself between two hay bales (go figure). He couldn't back up and he couldn't go forward.

Matilda was unhappy, of course.

But we hoisted him out from between the bales and got him out of the haybarn.

Thor immediately dove for mama. A little comfort food, don'cha know.


  1. Patrice, I can't thank you enough for your running narrative and photos about Thor and all the other livestock. He is adorable!!! I would love a couple of cows and your info is invaluable! It is fun to read and yet it is informative enough to take the shine right off of any fancy notions of this kind of life being 'simple'. If I could have a barn built (enough land, no money just now) I would invest in one or two cows because of, and despite, everything you've posted. I think we shall have to give you an honorary Professor of the Simple Life award. 8-)
    God Bless,
    Janet in MA

  2. Great post, Patrice! Please keep us updated on Matilda's teat....gee, that sounds like we are all sorta pervy out here in blog land, lol! But seriously, in case I am ever in that one in a million situation with a milk cow, it would be great to know what to do!
    Glad the little guy got over the scours!
    Training Thor as a draft animal is a good thing! Don looks like he is a patient man with the little calf, and that's 90% of training any animal, patience!

  3. I'm glad that Matilda seems to be comfortable, at least. You guys really have beautiful animals. Is Pearly Gimli's as well? They look similar, but really I wouldn't know, they all look gorgeous to me. I adore baby cows :)

    Thanks for keeping us updated, I learn all sorts of things from your blog.

  4. Hang in there, Matilda!

    What a good girl.

    Y'all are growing quite a herd there, Patrice. It's so good to see.


  5. I was thinking about Matilda's problem, and in humans hose of us who are over blessed in the breast area we can get inverted nipples. This happens when the milk comes in, think of a balloon you blow it up to a certain point and there is a nipple on the end, if you keep blowing it up the nipple goes away. For humans there are special nipple covers that help bring it out as the baby is nursing, it doesn't hurt or anything. Just a thought! I mean she doesn't have a fever, seem in pain if you touch it, there is no heat to the nipple and the milk that comes out is in a good stream and color, I wouldn't worry too much.

  6. I think Matilda's teat inverted because she has so much milk. Also because she has not the best udder attachment. Maybe there is something else going on inside there. Good that you have milk coming out though! If Thor would just work on it for you!
    you need another calf to put on Matilda! That cow has way too much milk for just one calf!!

  7. Thor is just adorable.....I knew the adventure trait would kick in sooner or later, LOL, at least he picked something rather soft to get stuck in......

  8. You've probably already covered this, but is Thor allowed access to his mama all the time, or do you seperate them before you milk her?

  9. I like the breast pump idea. I am glad the baby is over the runs....

  10. Patrice,
    You are welcome for the advise on the apple cider vinegar, is it still working? It has been a while so I have been wondering. I have been following her progress since you got her. I hope that it is helping and will aleviate some of the pain that she gets into. She seems to do great with these two calves though for a mama that was never allowed to raise one. How is the inverted nipple problem coming? Any luck or change. Any word back from the college?

    You should have seen the look on my husbands face when I told him about her problem and he jokingly told me that you should hook a shop vac up to her and I told him that you had already tried that. It was pricless.

    Anyway, good luck. Keep us posted.

    PS: the vinegar works good on chicks too. Especially the ones that you get from the feed store. Just a tablespoon or two in a gallon of water and you wont have any die 'just beause'. The next time you buy chicks, try it, you will be surprised.