Country Living Series

Monday, April 23, 2018

Little orphaned Anna

We lost Polly, our Jersey cow, yesterday afternoon.

Her death was completely unexpected. After looking so ill last week, she seemed completely recovered after receiving antibiotics. She was eating, chewing her cud, nursing her calf.


And then boom, she was down, dead before we knew it. Don removed her halter. After all, she won't be needing it anymore.


A kind neighbor brought his backhoe and dug her grave.


But unlike when Matilda died – taking her unborn calf with her – Polly leaves behind little Anna, less than two months old and far from being weaned. And Polly was my last trained milker.

However Amy (Matilda’s daughter) offers hope. She’s not trained to milk, but she’s lead-trained. She’s also – like Matilda – something of a “universal donor.” So yesterday afternoon we experimentally led Amy into the squeeze chute and I got some milk from her udder without a problem. By “some,” I mean a single squirt from all four teats. Since she’s actively nursing her own little calf, it's not like she’s walking around with a full bag waiting for me to milk her. For that to happen, we need to separate her from her calf at night. But at least she wasn’t fighting me trying to milk her. Amy has a sweet, gentle disposition, just like her mama did.

The squeeze chute was missing a bottom (the boards were rotted when we got it)...


...so Don cut two sheets of OSB and we slid those into position.


We ended up putting Amy, Amy's calf, and little orphaned Anna into the corral together.


We had hopes Anna would willingly nurse off of Amy, but the grieving baby doesn’t seem inclined to do so, even though she's undoubtedly hungry. Instead, so far she has spent the entire evening and night lowing pitifully for her mother. It's heartbreaking.


We always keep calf milk replacer on hand, so today we’ll bottle-feed Anna. She’s not going to take that indignity lying down, so it will be a bit of a rodeo until she understands what we’re trying to do, but at her young age there’s no possible way she can get sufficient nutrition from solid foods.

We’ll also start separating Amy from the two calves at night, and I’ll milk her in the mornings, with all the milk going to Anna (fresh milk is always better than milk replacement).

In the meantime, we’re all mourning Polly’s loss. Matilda and Polly, our two beloved Jerseys. Sometime farm life isn’t much fun.

35 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for your losses.

    Leslie in SD

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  2. I am so sorry to hear of Polly's passing. She always seemed so sweet.

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  3. Oh honey~ I'm so sorry. (I'm afraid our own sweet milk cow seeing her last days on our farm. I'm not looking forward to her passing.) It's so hard to lose such a friendly and valuable animal...

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  4. i'm so sorry for your loss. you are in my prayers.

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  5. Oh dear, we are sorry to hear about Polly. Farm life is hard indeed.
    Dock Guy and Dock Gal

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  6. Oh! I am so sorry to see this. I was following her story closely and was excited to hear she was recovering. Hopefully as Anna grows up she will take on the best qualities of Polly.

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  7. Oh, no! - and just as it seemed she was pulling through, too. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  8. I am so sorry for your loss. She was loved not only by you but by a lot of us as well.

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  9. Lord knows how we love our animals. They are like our own children. Hopefully, little Anna can move towards her new mama to help her recover too. Sorry for your loss.
    J.

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  10. I am so sorry to hear about Polly so soon after Matilda...I guess even when medicine looks like it is working, we see that there is an appointed time to go....I am praying for her baby to be able to drink what you try to give her..and that Polly will help out...
    Love from NC

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  11. So sad to hear this! Hopefully the little gal will quickly attach herself to another mother figure and find sustenance. God bless you and Don as you work your way through this loss. It's been a rough year so far for so many.

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  12. Not to be the "Dutch Uncle" I grieve for your losses, your animals are family. Was the deaths attributed to old age or do you have an unknown illness starting in your herd? And the Jerseys more prone to it?

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    1. With Matilda, it was very likely old age -- she was at least 16. But Polly was just 8, in the prime of life. We've had her since she was a calf, so whatever she died from was unexpected and unknown. None other of our cows are ill, thank God.

      - Patrice

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  13. I'm so sorry for your loss, Patrice. No words :(

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  14. So sorry to read this - it sounded like she was feeling so much better! My condolences to you all.

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  15. Oh, Patrice, I'm crying. The picture of little Anna looking for Mommy is heartbreaking. Praying for you and Don and little Anna.

    Connie

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  16. So sorry to hear this... poor Anna.

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  17. I feel for you and Don. it is a sad time. When I had stock I always noticed that when a sick animal seemed to begin to get well quickly and perk up it was actually dying. Almost always worked that way. --ken

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  18. crying for the baby.
    need to find the killer.
    must be something in the fields.
    could kill beef cattle, too.

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  19. I am so sorry...

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  20. So sorry for the loss of your beloved cows, I hope the little calf gets along fine without her mother

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  21. I'm very sorry for the loss of Polly. I really feel so sad for her baby. It's really hard to lose them I know. I pray that her little one is able to cope and you will be able to feed her. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  22. Oh Patrice, so sorry for your loss of Polly. It's been a tough year for you losing both of your lovely Jerseys. Will be praying that Polly's baby learns to enjoy her bottle and milking Anna will go smoothly. Loss on the farm is so very hard, and yet I am sure we would both agree, that we love this life so we keep on keeping on. I thank the Lord for all the other amazingly wonderful days He provides us to help soften the hard ones!
    Blessings to you and Don,
    Janae @ Creekside Farmstead

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  23. We planted our sweet Jersey "Peaches" on Earth Day as well.
    I understand your grief. Our sweet girl slipped an injuried her hind quarters and could not get up. Bless the four neighbors ,backhoe, tractor and four burley guys. After six hours of lifting,pulling, and repositioning she still could not get her back legs under her.
    The guys sat around her, brushing flies from her face waiting for me to "decide". So we put my beautiful girl down. I know your grief so well. We refused the offer of butchering her out. She was only three.
    Leaving a three week old calf. Luckily, not foresight, I froze @ ten gallons of her milk (cheese dancing in my head).
    As much as I would like to replace her; not going to happen. We are each approaching 70. Peaches made it easy.
    Will be thinking of your today when I grass seed my beauties grave.

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  24. I would really recommend getting the vet in to check the rest of the herd. What killed her so unexpectedly could be the beginning of something that may run through your herd. Mold, parasites, fungi, in the feed, water or grass. Please, for the sake of peace of mind.

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  25. I'm so sorry...words don't seem to come. I'll keep you all in my prayers.

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  26. Oh Patrice, I am so sorry for you. I feel the loss of your precious Jerseys, and pray for little orphan. Please know your readers are experiencing your grief and understand the harsh realities of farm/ranching.

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  27. So very sorry my dear. Was so hoping she was on the mend. Little Anna's crying hurts my heart. My prayers are with you, dear girl.

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  28. I'm very upset to hear about this. We were keeping track while we were on vacation, and I was so happy to think that she was getting better. Much sadness for you and for little Anna.

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  29. Sorry for your loss. Both Jerseys gone in a few weeks.So sad.

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  30. So sorry to hear of another loss following Matilda. Everyone who reads your blog regularly comes to know and love your farm animals. Ive enjoyed reading about all of them over the years and again, so sorry for your loss of sweet Polly

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  31. I'm sorry for your loss. 2 so close together is so hard. I will be praying for little Anna

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  32. Sorry to hear about the loss of your girls, know how we get attached to them.

    Have you checked the pastures for Lupen aka Texas Blue Bell flowers. The plant is known for causing cows to lose calves any time during the pregnancy or making a cow very ill. The flower resembles a Hyacinth, stock has a bluish/purple flower on the stem. It is very toxic to herd animals, it wiped out my dads lambs one year they were all still born. Veterinarian said it was do these flowers and the seeds they consume which fall on the ground even after the flowers have died off.

    Sending our best for the orphan baby and your household.

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  33. Pat I raised jerseys for 20 years the girls look a bit thin ,i know age ,,and Jersey but still look thin to me ,you might try to add some vegetable oil to there diet ,,1/4 cup once a day with grain ,,16yrs is not to old for off dairy ,,have had one 28years ,,would have been a good idea to have done a post to know what happened ,to the 9yr old
    Look out for lupine ,, i call it two step , had a rash of losses from it ,and I'm a DVM

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