Priscilla delivered a healthy little girl calf last night after midnight. Philip went out to do the last evening checkup and came to get me. We watched and waited and waited and watched for a couple of hours. It was hard work. Took some help. Not too much, thankfully. We were sore and exhausted by the time 1:30 rolled around. Baby stood up and did well and Priscilla managed to clean her off and love on her.
By this morning Priscilla had developed a bad case of mastitis and would not let baby nurse. We wrangled her into the stanchion, placed a gate by her side to made a "crush" and I worked and worked to get a pint of colostrum. Philip had to put a rope around one of her legs to keep her from kicking me in the head. Maggie and Rose worked to get the baby to drink the colostrum out of a bottle. Rose named the sweet little thing Dulce, which means sweet in Spanish. I suggested Dulcinea, which is the name of the heroine in Don Quijote. Rose said that could be her name, too!
After one go around, I loaded up the car with lots of ingredients and an apron and Thomas and I headed to Big Pine Trout Farm to teach a cooking class. Fish stock, chowder, fabulous gourmet whole trout and buerre blanc. We also roasted root veggies and sauteed some swiss chard to go with all the goodies.
Philip and the rest of the kids stayed home to work with Priscilla and Dulce.
I felt bad.
Philip and Maggie worked very hard taking care of the gals. Dulce drank her colostrum and took some baking soda mixture administered by Maggie. This helped her regain her strength. They put on hot compresses and Philip rubbed a mixture of cayenne pepper and lard on the udder. Maggie tells me that Priscilla definitely did not like this treatment, but she noticed that the udder began to get softer after a few minutes. The purpose of the cayenne is to stimulate circulation to the swollen udder and help relieve the edema.
Maggie also gave her a large dose of vitamin C with her food and some molasses. Vitamin C is supposed to be good for udder edema and mastitis, not to mention all the other good things it does. We are thankful for our milking farmer friend who gave us such good advice. If all else fails we will have to try antibiotics and/or a vet, but we wish to at least try some less invasive methods first.
At last check, Philip observed Dulce up and nursing. Wahoo! After everyone finishes up their chowder, we will head back out for one last try for the night.
This morning, as we wrangled and wept and cussed (well, I don't know if anyone else cussed or not), I asked God why things never seemed to come easily. Why couldn't she just pop the baby out? At 3 in the afternoon instead of the middle of the night? On a night right before I have a work commitment? Why couldn't the baby pop up and nurse happily and Priscilla march right on over to the stanchion and happily let us milk her?
As I hurriedly gathered my cooking things, I remembered a prayer I said yesterday evening, asking God to make me smarter than I am. I asked him to make me nicer. Then I decided that maybe instead of asking to be nicer, maybe I should ask him to help me be more like Jesus. To be more wise. To be more generous.
Having difficult circumstances is a wonderful opportunity to have to ask for help and advice, making me smarter. Having difficult circumstances helps me to learn to be like Jesus who suffered. Not that I am suffering anything at all, don't get me wrong. Having to let other people take care of my job every once in awhile teaches me to surrender. Working harder and longer that I want to also teaches me that we can do more than we think we can.
So thank you God for allowing difficult things be useful tools. We are tired and wish we could go to bed and read a book, but instead we will head back out to the barn and care for our dear animals who need our help. I do feel smarter. That tip about cayenne pepper and lard is a great one. I don't know that I feel any nicer, but I am thankful to Maggie and Philip for all their hard work today. And I am thankful that dear Maggie, who wishes to someday be a vet, is getting AMAZING experience. Her skill and instinct are impressive. Way to go, Mags!
By the way, Thomas was my sous chef today and after he finished chopping and washing he had the opportunity to try out Tenkara trout fishing, a Japanese method. He caught three trout! They tasted mighty good. Big Pine Trout Farm is a very cool place. The sound of the rushing stream and the sight of the colorful fish leaping to the sky was a beautiful thing. Daddy, I know where we are going to take you when you next come to visit Virginia!!!