Saturday, August 25, 2012

An update (with photos)

I got up early this morning, fully expecting to find a dead calf in the shed; my record with intervention is not good. As it happened, Siobhan Ruadh was fine, nestled down in the straw and a good deal drier than she had been once I'd given her an OP dip bath yesterday evening. Of the maggots there was nary a sign, which is a relief. She also no longer smells of rot and death, but instead reeks of OP dip, which is a bit like creosote only nastier. It makes my eyes water just thinking about it.

She's a good drinker, Siobhan. No problem getting her to take from the bottle. I'd high hopes of getting her back up the hill with her mother though - there's nothing better than fresh from the udder for a recovering calf.

A quick nip into Perth to get some Maggot Oil and a half dozen bags of cow rolls* and we were ready to go. I painted the oil all over Siobhan's bare skin where the hair had come out, dabbed a bit of Spot-On sytemic insecticide on her back between the shoulders to keep the flies away from her for a few weeks, loaded her into the trailer and headed back up the hill.

The reunion was tender. 


baldy bits where the maggots were.

I'd used some of the cow rolls to tempt the rest of the fold down from the top of the Law, where they'd been terrorising the walkers enjoying the scenery. I spent ten minutes or so watching them mill around, sniff and lick their returned companion, try to shag their mothers** and generally be cows. Siobhan even managed a bit of a suckle.


not so bad on this side, but mum's a bit daggy.

And then the heavens opened.

It was the mother of all downpours. Lashing rain that had me running for the cover of the stock trailer. I stood there for about fifteen minutes until it eased off enough to venture out and see how Siobhan was doing. She was soaked, head down almost to the ground, looking a bit miserable really. Her mum had wandered off, the dozy moo. She's not the most maternal - not like Mairi Clare, who almost gored me to death when I tried to get near her poor, starving calf.

I picked up Siobhan, hoping she might make a noise and attract the attention of her wayward mother. Instead, she just looked at me as if I was a heartless bastard for leaving her out in the rain like that. Sticking her in the trailer, I then tried to round up her mum in the vain hope she might go to her calf. If I could get them both in there, then I could bring them both down off the hill and not have to worry about bottle-feeding or mum's milk drying up from underuse.***

Alas, it was not to be. Iolair (for that is her name) must have had a bad trailer experience some time in her past (all four years of it), as she wouldn't go anywhere near the thing. Even with Siobhan standing forlorn at the top of the ramp. Eventually I gave up, closed up the trailer and brought Siobhan back down to the farmyard. She's drying out on her nice straw bed again, a pint or so of reconstituted milk in her stomach. I'll feed her again later, which means there's no point changing out of my minging trousers. Despite wearing plastic overtrousers, a raincoat and latex gloves, the smell of OP dip still manages to get through and soak into everything. Nice.

The downpour was epic, if not quite up to the standards of three weeks ago, when we had two inches in three hours. Still there were rivers running over fields where rivers had never been seen before. The ground is saturated with five inches of rain since the beginning of the month, so any more just flows right off the top. I stopped by one of the six gates that need to be opened, driven through and then closed again on the journey to take a photograph.


click to embiggen - there should be a track there somewhere.

I don't want to keep Siobhan and her mum apart for too long, so tomorrow I get to do the whole thing all over again. Hopefully the wee calf will be a bit more with it by then - she's still a bit dazed and wobbly from nerve agent poisoning. Quite how sheep cope with it, I've no idea. But then they've no brains to addle, I suppose.



*A distant cousin of Cow Pie
** The bull calves are getting a little excited. They've not had the snip yet, but fortunately aren't mature enough. It doesn't stop them trying though.
*** This happens, sometimes as quickly as two or three days after the calf's been taken away.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Glad to hear the litte one is better. I hope she'll make it.

September 05, 2012 8:57 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Thanks Gabriele. She seems to be doing OK, getting stronger by the day. A pity her mother's a bit of a dozy moo. She keeps wandering off and forgetting little Shiv can't keep up.

September 05, 2012 9:08 pm  

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