Friday, November 5, 2010


Last night was dark, as nights are won't to be.  I gave the calves their share of hay and popped open a new bale for Hendrika, in her separate stall.  As the first section freed itself, hot steam billowed from the interior of the bale.  Very hot.  It was odd.  But it was dark.  And I could only feel, not see.  So I hefted it over the bars and into her stall.

The steam, combined with our neighbors' yard-waste smolder that's been ongoing for the past smog-filled few days caused quite a dream.

I spotted a puff of steam from a dreamed-up pile of rocks in our field.  As curiosity drew me closer, the steam cloud grew larger and stronger.  And when I finally saw the hot, bubbling pool from which it sprang, I sank to my knees singing hymns of joy, in disbelief.  "Could it be?!  Could it be?!  Could ALL my dreams be coming to reality, even the craziest?!  For have I not said more than a few times that the only thing this property needs (other than a big red barn and a few dozen full grown maples) was a hotspring?!  And here!  Hark! At my feet such doth billow up thusly!" (NOTE: Blue and I have been watching Shakespeare lately) I worried, though, that it was one of those super acidic Yellowstone pools.  So, cautiously, I reached in to feel the perfect 130 degree water.  But what was this, at the bottom?  A lid?  A lid to what?  A lid, of course, to a buried tank full of toxic waste.  No, that was not water foaming up from the earth's breast.  Yes, this property, in this dream, had formerly been an illegal toxic waste dump.

I left that on the pillow and trotted out, quite late, to milk.  But what I found in Hendrika's stall was not very milkable.  That girl had bloody diarrhea all night long.  The stall was coated.  I needed more than a few fresh air breaks to give my gag reflex a rest.  I was (and am still somewhat) worried it was the beginnings of a miscarriage.  Not only would a miscarriage be a big bummer, it would also mess up the schedule here.  But when I fetched more hay for the girls, I may have found the source of the problem.  The bale I'd opened the night before was STILL steaming.  And covered in mold.  I fed it to the cows again.  Everyone says that cows can eat moldy hay... so I didn't really think much of it.  Once I made the connection, I opened a new, non-moldy bale and they switch immediately.  When given choice, cows will go for what they need.  But, like us, when hungry, they'll just eat what's available and deal with the consequences later.

But it might not even be due to that.  She could have sand colic, or metal in her gut cutting holes (cows eat everything and your supposed to give them a magnet at some point to keep all the metal together and inside.  I haven't done that yet because I don't know when you should do that.)  Or a miscarriage.  The sperm was a little old.

Hendrika is still really bloated and squirty.  I hope she's okay and pulls out of it.  Her ears are warm.  And I can't remember if that's good or bad.  I think cold is bad.  And she's sweet and bore my petting tonight.  I wish there was a cow vet in the vicinity.  I miss Pullman, where half of our friends were vet students.  One vet friend said that if I was going to have a cow, I should also get a gun, because nobody wants to listen to a cow die all night.  I don't think I could do either of those things.

I left her stall open tonight so that maybe she'll roam out of it and spray her stuff in the open air where I don't have to clean it.  I won't milk her in the morning.  I'll let the calf take care of that.  Who wants milk from a sick cow?  Except a hungry calf.

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