Here’s the Crofting version of the commentary style of the TV programme ‘Big Brother’:
Monday, 12.25: iCalf 2 born to Dryope while the Crofter’s home. On its feet within 11 mins. All is calm on the croft.
Tue: iCalf 2 is running round the byre and feeding on its mother. Mother cow’s not happy for getting shut in the byre while the rest chomp through the lushest grass but she’s not bellowing enough to get an ASBO.
Wednesday, 8am: Crofter leaves for the day to work in Invergorden…
8.43 am: Calf is found flat out in the straw arching his head back in a very haunting posture.
9.17 am: Call the vet! As soon as I said two day old calf down they said they’d get a vet out.
10.03 am: Clock watching. Calf is still breathing but this is taking the vet forever…
10.27am: Vet arrives to say ‘ohh, he doesn’t look too good’ (hmm, why else did I ring you…).
10.33 am: Mini Crofter has decided he has had enough of the byre by this time so sprint down the road and ask the neighbours for help in watching him.
10.46 am: Vet has already tried to find jugular veins on both sizes of his neck, some fluid does go in before giving up and going subcutaneous, followed by two injections, with the vet having said e.coli and meningitis…and just be careful with e.coli as it can be passed to humans, particularly young children…
11.02 am: ‘If he survives, you’ll need to give him oral fluids 3 times a day and injections for the next 9 days. Ur, right, how do I do a stomach tube in a calf (thankfully we had one and hydration tablets just in case)…And off pops the vet…
11.26 am: Retrieve Mini Crofter much to his disgust (the neighbours have a lovely sand arena for their horses, aka, gigantic sandpit/play area to a 16 month old).
12.30 pm: Phone call from Jeanette (local farmers who I had called in the morning before the vet but had left a message). Ian was busy but she’d send him round to help once he got back to make sure I was getting the tube right.
2.30 pm: Attempt passing the stomach tube on the vets advice, calf got a litre. Relief.
3.30 pm: Mini Crofter is firmly strapped into his pushchair to watch my lesson ‘ITU for calves’ from Farmer Ian. Ian also braces me to the prospect that the calf has a slim chance of survival.
5.45 pm: Crofter returns home! What a relief. It may have only been a day but it always happened when he’s gone!
7 pm: Mini Crofter tucked up in bed
7.15pm: Crofter goes to get the mini-milking machine set up to find it has seized. Oh pants. Hand milking a cow can be a lengthy job when your hand muscles are not use to it.8pm: Tube the calf, no difference in behaviour.
8.30 pm: Machine is finally working. Dryope is then milked and find out she’s got mastitis. Attempt to inject the cow, third time I get the Crofter to do it (her skin is like thick leather!)
9.30pm: Farmer Ian comes by to check on us (there was no answer on the phone when his wife called so thought they had better check I was ok). So nice to have people like this so close.
Thursday, all day: calf is routinely tubed and given fluid. No change in behaviour though. Two injections into his neck are much easier than his mother!
Friday 8 am: Calf is found on its feet! Able to suck some but not enough for a bottle. The calf may have been near dead but he’s not happy when I go to inject him.
12 noon: Offered a bottle and guzzled 1 litre (still looking pretty spaced and not the best with his balance). Attempt to get him feeding on his mother. Nearly, but not quite getting the hang of it.
So, thus ends the story so far. He is still with us but needing help. Tomorrow I should have been running in a 10K race in Edinburgh. I wonder how many people do not attend races because a member of their livestock becomes unwell? Some might think it’s a lame excuse, as the Crofter has ended up still being at home (he was due to head off Thursday night). However, looking after a sick calf, an unwell cow and a Mini Crofter is really a two person job. Think I’m just looking forward to a day off sometime soon…maybe July?