Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ranger Puddles the bull calf

The kids are left up to naming the critters on our simple farm. They all agreed that if the calf was a heifer it’s name was going to be Betsey as Grandpa always asks if we had some extra Stretched Betsey. Being the third bull calf in a row for Rosebud has thrown a wrench in our plans especially since all the good bull calf names have been used. The girls wanted to name the calf Puddles but Ringo somehow convinced them Ranger Puddles was a great name and all involved agreed.

I actually got to see the event this time while all other parties were snoring away at 5:30 am. It was quite pleasant listening to the birds sing as Rosebud moaned and groaned. New life on a farm is always fun.


Rosebud is now producing milk but I get kicked pretty bad every time I touch her sore teat. I’ll take pictures of the progression. It’s improving slowly.

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Ranger is a Guernsey/Jersey cross. Should be all skin and bones when he grows up. Pretty soon the bull will loose a few parts and become a steer. Poor fella.


We celebrated by heading over to the river to have some fun. Not sure what’s proper in civilized areas of the world but here in the boondocks clothes are optional.

Good thing I had the camera.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cow healing and controlling flies with salve

After the gruesome post I did last time I thought it was necessary to follow up with a update on poor Rosebuds injury.

I found Rosebud Sunday night and started a salve regimen that included cleaning out the gouge initially then packing with salve every few hours as the salve gets rubbed and licked off. After the initial cleaning, Lucy (our natural healing friend) recommended to just applying salve over and over the immediate and surrounding areas. No need for cleaning. She’s never had an issue with infection even if the salve is just applied over the last dose. Here are some pictures of the salve.

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The yellow salve is a balm of Gilead salve that comes from infused oil made from poplar buds. You know the kind that are sticky in the spring just before the poplar leafs out. We pick a bunch of the buds and leave them in olive oil for a while. After a while we melt bees wax into the oil and it comes out nice and pliable.

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This salve was a bit too thick. Rosebud kept kicking when I applied it as I had to really push to pack it on.

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The first picture above is how I wished the salve would stay. The above picture is how it often looks, full of hay and dirt.

Milly made another salve today that wasn’t so thick. (she didn’t put as much bees wax in). It went on like I was icing a cake. Rosebud didn’t mind the application and it’s gotten in deeper in the wound. I think Milly’s recipe was something like 5 ounces of balm of Gilead oil, 4 ounces of honey, an ounce of bees wax, some old balm of Gilead salve, and some left over green salve that has a bunch of stuff infused in it. She kept the bees wax at 10% of the concoction.

If there was one nice thing to come from this injury its that I think we’ve stumbled onto a good solution for controlling flies. Check out Ferdinand the steers back.Cow healing 009

He is right beside Rosebud.

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Look at rosebud. Every time I’ve applied salve to her sore udder I’ve wiped my hands on her back. No flies. I’ve been really surprised the flies haven’t attached her wound as well. Anytime I’ve applied salve the flies immediately stop bugging her. She had a bunch of flies on her face and nose. I applied a really small amount of salve to those areas and now the flies have stopped pestering her. I’ve only seen a few mosquitos as well. Great find. Even with the 4 ounces of honey in the salve the flies have still stayed away. Amazing really.

The best thing about the salve we make is it’s practically free (other than the hours of labor it takes to pick and infuse native plants in oil).

Other than the oil (we get ours from Costco) and a small dollar amount for beeswax we can make the salve ourselves. It makes us really feel empowered to be able to take care of injuries on our own.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Torn Cow Teat–What to do?

I should probably warn anyone that has a weak stomach not to look at the pictures that follow. It’s not for the faint of heart. Milly swoons every time she has to deal with anything like this. I’m lucky I can’t really relate to a torn tender bit quite like she can.

Rosebud our family milk cow is due any minute now. I’ve been checking her often over the past few weeks as I’ve expected her to calve two weeks ago. In fact I proclaimed to my less cow knowledgeable brother in law a week and a half ago that I’d be totally surprised if she didn’t calve this weekend…that was a week and a half ago.

What do I know about pregnancy and going into labor?

Here’s a pleasant picture of Rosebud’s rear end. It’s kind of loose and swelling up. The base of her tail is sticking way out as the ligaments have all receded in preparations for the big day.

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Her udder is pretty big and has swelled to capacity. The teats are extended out like when you blow a rubber glove up and the fingers pop out. Looks pretty painful.

Anyways, I was out Sunday night checking on our expectant mother and found this.

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You can see the underside of the bag has gouges as well.

I almost threw up. Almost cried because I’m a wuss. I did cry when Rosebud kicked me when I tried to get a better look at it. For some reason she doesn’t want me to touch it.

We called the vet to consult about stitching as it looks like it needs something. We called over a friend who is a paramedic and just so happens to have a ton of experience with horses, cows, and pretty much everything else. We hymned and hawed. Said several prayers. Discussed with other knowledgeable cow men about what our best course of action should be.

Here’s what we decided to do. Nothing. Well. Not nothing. We aren’t going to stitch her up. According to a life long dairy man stitching only works about 40% of the time. Another rancher in the area says he’s dealt a lot with cow teat lacerations and he thinks the best is to keep it lathered with salve and let the teat heal on it’s own. The paramedic friend agreed. So I told him if the cow dies it’s his fault. ha.

Oh, we invited over Lucy to look things over as well. Lucy is a natural healer. If anyone gets sick or injured they always turn to Lucy. We figured a cow is an animal just like we are so surely she can work her magic on Rosebud as well.

Lucy recommended about the same as everyone else. Use salve (Lucy makes her own and has shown Milly all the arts of the salve trade) and pray for the best. We make our own salve out of locally found plants. (Yarrow, comfrey, mullein, chickweed, St. John’s wart, etc., etc.) (I say “We” but really Milly does all the work). We apply the salve to everything that ails us and it usually heals amazingly well. We are hoping the famous Lucy Salve works again for Rosebud’s sake.

We were told when Rosebud calves to be gentle on the teat but if we don’t relieve the milk she’ll probably get mastitis. Another cow friend of Milly’s suggested letting the calf try to suck on the teat as sometimes the momma will let a calf drain it when she won’t let anyone grab a hold to milk.

I’d be open to any other suggestions. I’m sure I’ll be reported to the SPCA or the bovine protection agency for the neglect or abuse our cow has been put through. I only posted as I hoped anyone else that has to deal with this type of injury has some guidance.

I’ll try to follow up with the results so you can know if our lack of action worked.