Lucy the newborn Angus calf went down with heatstroke yesterday evening and I had to go in and drag her out through the little milking calf door without her mother killing me. If I had left her in there she would have died on the spot.
It was 96 degrees and blowing hot. My fields are frying where they stand. And this baby was not drinking enough. I saw her panting hard in her corner of the barn, ran for water then when I got back she was down, stretched straight out, melting into the straw, her open mouth, abnormal, breathing fast and awful. Both the mother cows standing over her.
The moment she saw me, Laia rushed to her own calf who was fine but this left Luna standing guard over her dying baby. So I called to Boo – sit and stay and called to TonTon – go find Daisy (which means bring in the milking cows) – in seconds he had gathered himself and sailed over the barn gate then he bounded past Luna and jumped the cows gate at the end of their run, at a fast clip he ran off looking for Aunty Del who was out in the pasture, Luna turned to intercept him and while she was looking the other way I whipped open the lower half of the milking gate and at a crouch ran into the pen, grabbed Lucy by her back feet and dragged her straight out. We were safe in seconds and as I latched the heavy gate I felt the slam of the mothers head on the closing gate in rage.
(These pictures were taken earlier in the day by the way – no time for pictures in the heat of that moment).
Safe in the milking room I began to slowly revive the calf. Holding the small bucket of water in one hand – I opened her mouth and carefully poured a little water in, then I wiped a little on her body, then I ducked her nose in the water just a little, I alternated all this again and again, until my bucket was empty and she was actually swallowing a little water and sitting up by herself.
The whole time her mother Luna mooed to her and threatened me but the calf and I worked on regardless hoping the gate would hold.
I ran for more water and when I returned she was standing up and her mother was leaning over the half-gate licking her. After another little while of getting cool water everywhere on her I could – slowly bringing her temperature down so as not to shock her system, she began to wash herself then later again she began to suck on my wet fingers as I dribbled water in. Ever so slowly I lowered my fingers with her mouth attached into the bucket and she had a big drink all on her own.
At this point I thought she might be OK.
It was 9pm and still over 90 degrees. The calves do have small buckets of water about but they seldom go to water in the first week or so and in the first few days they don’t even drink a huge amount of milk – they are still in recovery really. This heat is testing for newborns. All newborn animals have a hard time regulating their own body temperatures.
As I checked her on and off through the hot bright full moon night I saw her find another of the calf buckets and have another drink of water.
I did not see her feed with her mother but though her breathing is still rapid this morning she is sleeping curled in the hay next to her mother. Her body language looks normal and relaxed.
The other calf, the tough little Bobby calf, is handling the heat much better. But has been sticking much closer to his mother too and sleeping under the trees instead of in the barn. So I have made the cows resting pen smaller, forcing Lucy to stay closer to her own mother and the big doors, and the fan, maybe she will drink more and stay cooler.
The heat will be here for a few days yet, though soon the storms will come which will be better for the animals.
It sure has been hot.
I hope your day goes well.
Tuesday 20% Precip. / 0 in
Generally cloudy. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High near 90F. Winds SE at 10 to 15 mph.
Tuesday Night 20% Precip. / 0 in
Cloudy skies. A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low near 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph.
Oh no! Luckily you got to her on time
One more hot day today then we are out of the woods.
I’m so glad you haven’t gone to Greece yet…. Another baby lives to see the morning because you know what you’re doing.
It really is way too hot for newborns.
The life of a farmer is difficult. Good luck with the little calf.
Yes! This heat is mean to everyone!
Poor little one. What a rough way to start off life. This heat is just murder! Here’s hoping for a break in the weather soon.
Today will be bad but i am
Hoping for rain tomorrow- that will help
I’m so glad too that you were there to see & go into action. You are the guardian angel of your flocks & creatures. And maybe Luna will get that into her head now or soon.
I wish she would – these two cows are a menace!
Your writing is so descriptive here… I felt your rapid response to the moment. This is farm life – something always presenting itself and quick thinking is necessary. This is why we are constantly checking on our flocks and herds, and the property (fences and buildings). The weather dictates everything, every move, every plan. And what a good feeling it is to save an animal, even risking your own safety to do so.
You are SO RIGHT!
I am so glad you were able to get to her in time Miss C.. I hear you on the heat and it being very hard on the young, the old or anyone that is just a bit off.. We hit 93 with 95 humidex that made it feel like 96 and wet hot sauna.. I had a litter of rabbits born and so far the nine wee ones are holding ok.. the chicks are doing ok.. but I lost one of my oldest in the flock.. It was coming.. had been a struggle to keep the weight on during winter, etc.. and I knew that she was off but I did all the things you can do.. barn, fan, extra water etc.. Nothing like digging a final resting place in that heat.. the sweat was running. I am grateful to have her daughters in my flock to carry her line forward.
Oh it is sad when you lose one of the old ones- let’s hope this heat breaks soon!
And I’m glad to see Moon again, still around & resting himself on the metal hood that must have cooled in the night.
Moons other family has moved away so I guess he is part of our pride now.
How stressful all round! Well done!
It was the hottest day of the year here, yesterday and today there’s thunder with torrents of rain.
I see the Moon cat is back – I think he likes you.
This is a hot start – I am looking forward to the rain
Wow! I’m so glad Lucy is OK. That seems like such a close call. Hope she is much better today.
Still hot today.
Wow! That’s terrifying! Dealing with an angry mother angus is nothing to be sneezed at. You’re a brave soul.
Lucky Ton is fast!!
You are brilliant. How scary for you. I hope mamma appreciates you : )
Hope your little calves will be OK now and that the weather breaks soon. We are not as hot as you are but I’m finding it hard to do my farm chores. I only have 4 donkeys but I’m not finding it as easy as it was in my sixties. Wishing you well so you can go on your trip without worry.
No matter how many animals you gave chores are SO much harder in the heat
My heart stated to beat rapidly when I saw your headline. I know about heat stroke. It’s the only time in my life I felt I was actually dying and only 10 years old. I still can’t do heat because my cooling system no longer works. You were a brave woman to do what you did. You have my deepest respect and admiration. It’s who you are and I know you would do it for anyone and anything. I pray the heat abates soon. You saved a another life which you have done time and again on your farm. That vacation to Greece has been well earned. The moon has been awesome this week.
The moon is incredible- I did not need my torch last night!
I’m so glad your quick reaction and knowledge saved the calf. What a terrible thing to have happen. And the heat you’re experiencing…really rough.
OH my – I go away un-tethered for two weeks and look at all that happened! New cows, New calves, New friend, perogies, hay, opossums! Oh MY! Good to be home – and glad to catch up with the page.
oh my gosh- luckily you were there and your helpful dogs too….amazing.
Oh my word!!! what happens on a farm ~ nobody realizes ~ until ya been there! Thankful little Luna is ok ~ thanks to your quick actions ~ and Boo and TonTon helping out. It’s really been a hot one ~ I’ve had a gentleman helping me plant a lot of perennials and some trees I bought on sale ~ yesterday he planted four trees!! But I was right there helping and we both drank a lot of water! It was so hot and humid yesterday morning ~ but then in the afternoon it looked like it was really going to rain here ~ but we only had some pretty high winds and the rain went around us. But still mowing grass often ~ so not as dry as some areas! When are leaving for Greece? I think I better go along and carry your luggage and enjoy my Greek salads with you!!! We spent 3 wks in Greece for our honeymoon ~~ 1 wk on the mainland visiting many ancient historical sites; Santorini for a wk; and Rhodes and a few little islands!!! Loved it!!! Keep the animals in the shade drinking their ice water!! Have a good day!!!
I knew it! I said it before! You are a darn good WONDER WOMAN…for a girl from the city you sure do know what to do in an emergency…. Its a good job you were there to see it … Oh my giddy aunt..you do have extreme weathers…think l am better off in this part of the world where the weather is normal..at least it seems that way. Hope John will be able to cope with the babies whilst you are away. I hope that all is calm and all is well Lots o love
Wow great save. How harrowing for you. I hope she continues to recover.
When I saw Moon on the bonnet of the truck, all I could think of is “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”! Odd that he should show up for the beautiful full moon!
You are amazing! Are you concerned about the heat when you are in Greece? Who will be watching the farm? John? But he has another job, right? So happy you got to Miss Lucy!
So-o-o glad you caught the baby in time and knew just what to do! I just finished reading “ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL’ by James Herriot – so many things in it reminded me of you, Ceci! Knowing not to shock Lucy’s system by giving her too much cool water too fast is kind of like knowing not to put cold water into a steaming, nearly dry radiator…you’ll crack it or the block more likely than not. Smart, wonderful lady, you are!
Praying for the little tyke my friend. Wishing you cooler weather STAT! XOXO – Bacon
Good save, Celi!!! Hard when mama cow is being very protective. She should only know that you’re probably more protective than she is. It helps too that you’ve got good helpers in Boo and Ton. I hope Lucy will be okay.
Poor baby. So glad you checked on her and caught it. I hope she bounces back and both the calves hydrate regularly. Darn this heat.
So hard to get them to drink water at this age. But this one is not too big on drinking from mama either – she will build up though – I think tonight will be her turning point
Good work team! That got my heartvrate up although I imagine it was nowhere near as racing as your heart was in the midst of it.
I have a soft spot for the Moon Cat ♡
In a situation like that I am dead calm – I almost don’t think – afterwards I get the adrenaline hit
Amazing! And you and mates, Boo and Ton — so responsive– an ER team on the farm. And we were right there with you, breaths held.
I loved the powerful concluding images and the jerky rhythm of words, resolving the tension in that final restful phrase. It felt like part of a poem:
“As I checked her on and off
through the hot bright full moon night
I saw her find another of the calf buckets
and have another drink of water.”
And that photograph, farm house and trees in the night with the spotlight moon turning things blue, dark at the edges: perfect tone for that part of the story.
So glad you were able to intervene. It was hot again here but tomorrow should start the cool down. My mare Ember is a dark chocolate brown and I don’t think she’s been dry for the last week, Sally, the sorrel has wet spots but Ember is just soaking. Had a conversation with a friend trying to decide if when trying to cool them down by getting them wet you should leave their backs dry so as to avoid matting down the hair and just wet down their bellies and pulse points. Kind of makes sense.
Always cool down slowly I think- cows like their feet to be cooked first
It is a stroke of incredible timing followed by experience, a good team and clear thinking that this has had a good outcome. Brava Celi!
Yes – incredible luck really
I’m reading this so much later, yet I still felt the stress of the moment! I cannot imagine the extreme attention that caring for young animals in oppressive heat requires, but you give a very clear description and I hope by day’s end you are all resting well. And then off to start another day. Bless you!
What a horrible shock for you, the calf and the calf’s mum.