Thursday, April 21, 2011

Well crap

Well crap. Bad news.

I spoke to the vet this morning and told her about Pearly's injury. It didn't take a rocket scientist to confirm my fears: Pearly sliced her tendon. You've probably heard the term hamstrung? It's a crippling injury that, in livestock at least, is a death sentence.

You can see how she's pretty much on three legs. (We put her back in the barn shortly after I took this photo.) Without surgery and therapy, she'll stay on three legs. People can recover from being accidentally hamstrung -- cattle cannot.

And the pisser is, it's my fault. I saw that piece of sheet metal lying on the ground and it passed through my mind that I ought to pick it up before someone got injured... and then I didn't follow through.

So I called Potlatch Pack, the mobile butchers whose humane and efficient slaughter is legend in this area, and made an appointment for Monday. It breaks my heart to put a heifer in the freezer, especially one that is healthy and strong, but I guess it taught me a harsh lesson: picked up the damned hazards when I see them rather than putting it off.

The silver lining is we'll have some meat again. We're out at the moment, so it will be nice to have a full freezer.

For my vegetarian readers, expect a somewhat graphic post early next week. I'll put up sufficient warnings that no one is caught unawares.


  1. (I'm one of the vegetarians - but I'm not a militant veggie. I know the score...)

    I'm so sorry to hear the bad news. I know how hard it must be to put a heifer in the freezer. A steer, I can understand, but a heifer...especially one you love. Man! Dang the bad luck. I feel so much a part of this family, I'm almost teary myself.

    You have a million things to think about. Please forgive yourself.

    Just Me

  2. It's Just Me again....This is one of those awful gauntlets I talk about sometimes. The only way out is straight through. Keep your head down and run fast and hard. You'll get on the other side of this.

    Just Me

  3. This is sad news, but it's also life on the homestead....And you learned a lesson, as well, altho I doubt you can ever protect them from all the obstacles and injuries they manage to get themselves into.....Overall, she's had a pretty cool life living with your family....

    I forgot who commented that they named their cows Hamburger, Steak etc etc but that's a clever idea to remind us what the real reasons are for having livestock......

  4. Oh muffins!
    As you say her loss is not in "vain". I'm sure many folks who don't realise how a life cut short due to fixable hazards or how much we invest in our animals. Is considered a tragedy. Polly has made your life better in many ways. Not a bad legacy!

  5. I am so sorry, Patrice. I do not yet have my homestead, but I think that must be one of the hardest things to have to get used to.
    Also wondering if you can any of your meat. Or dehydrate? I think both will be good to have on hand in the future and I need to learn about both.
    Thanks for your blogging; I have enjoyed reading since I found you a short time ago.

  6. Just to clarify: it's PEARLY who has the injury, not POLLY. Pearly is Matilda's oldest calf with us. Polly is the new little heifer we just bought and who, thank God, is perfectly healthy.

    - Patrice

  7. Well to put a different face on it, since you have received many sympathies and condolences...

    MMMMMMMM Close to Veal.... Beef it's whats for dinner. :)

    Obviously I am NOT one of the vegetarians.

  8. Sad. Not quite the same, but I understand. Like putting a dog down when it's too old, or injured.
    One thing I appreciate about you is that you care for your animals.

    Prov 12:10
    10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal,


  9. Patrice-
    When you got animals - you'll have troubles. There's no way around it.
    It's just the way things are.
    I had the same thing happen to a prize ram once - he cut his foot on scrap sheet metal :-(

    At least the butcher is coming to slaughter a live animal.
    Think how bad it would be to go into the barn one morning and find a dead heifer from a twisted stomach or bad hay.
    At least you're getting food out of the deal and not having to dig a big hole for nothing :-)

  10. Oops sorry got the name of the critter wrong. I feel for you Pat. It didn't look that bad from your pic's. But you are right to put her down to minimize the suffering.

  11. I'm sorry you've got to do it, but glad that you'll be able to fill up your freezer. As Granny Miller pointed out, it would be so much worse to have it all go to waste.

  12. Well, I am of the opinion that an animal is better off dead than suffering, and an injured animal is bound to be injured repeatedly or becomes a target for predators. So, her humane death is really the only viable option.

    Patrice, don't beat yourself up on this. Things happen. Be thankful it wasn't one of the girls or you or Don who got hurt.

    This is why I never named any animal that I might eat. When I lived on a small farm, we raised a few head of cattle, but we never gave them endearing names. We referred to them as "One Hundred Dollars" because that's what he cost us. Or "The Mean One" because she would charge me when I went to put out alfalfa. I didn't get attached to them when I gave them silly names. Just my own personal choice, not stating this as advice.

    Tender steaks and lean hamburger will be much appreciated when the barbeque is lit in another month or so. Bon appetit!

    Anonymous Patriot

  13. the bad bills for surgery
    not so bad news...the bill for the services of a butcher
    the good news...steak, potroast, and hamburger that will last through the winter.
    such is life on a farm. i remember when we all sat down for a sunday dinner and "buttons" was on the menu.

  14. Phyllis (N/W Jersey)April 21, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    Sorry to learn of Pearly's fate - don't blame yourself - it's what I call a "Could of, would of, should of" event. You can't change the end result no matter how much you want to. The good part: you get to have a freezer full of delicious meat to feed your family - and that IS a good thing.

  15. My thoughts fall in line with Granny and Preppy.

    Thanks for sharing your farm with me.

  16. I'm really sorry Patrice. I'm glad you can see the bright side of this. I would have done the same thing. I just finished reading One Second After last week. It has made me very aware of eating things that we may not want to. As you have said though, the animals are not pets, they are for consumption, just in different ways (eggs, milk, etc).

    Ouida Gabriel

  17. P.S. And you learned a big lesson from this. That is important. You also shared your lesson with us - that is just as important.

    Ouida Gabriel

  18. I'm one of the vegetarians, but not a judgmental one! (Just personal dietary preference, not the central focus of my life!)
    I'm sorry about Pearly's injury, but I'd be even sorrier if she had to limp along on three legs for the rest of her life. And I agree with AP--better Pearly than you, Don, or one of the girls. Thanks for sharing your story, and good luck with the butchering!

  19. I'm sorry. Cutting open a tendon is dangerous. I wondered if that was it from the photos you showed. Didn't want to say anything though. (I know my horse stuff, and I figured that, that was it)

    Poor cow......

  20. Thanks for sharing the good and the bad, Patrice. I'm so sorry. Jennifer

  21. Sure wish I could do something to help...

    I've got a twin-pack of the really big bottles of A-1 from Costco...

    Jeff - Tucson