After 3 sleepless nights during which I visited the corral and Mom and baby multiple times, I’ve finally caught up on my rest and have time to create little Hannah’s welcome page. The heat here in Arizona almost did the little girl in–it was 100 degrees and humid on her second day of life, and she just wasn’t handling the heat. I cannot thank Dave, the ranch manager at Tres Hermanas Ranch, and his wife Ashely enough. They came on Saturday and gave Hannah an electrolyte/probiotic drench that brought her back to her feet. I watched her all day Sunday, giving her little sponge baths to keep her cool. Today, she’s following Mom and Big Brother around the property just like she should.
I was also watching Elsie for any signs of Milk Fever, the calcium deficiency that cost Brighty and Dixie their lives on my birthday earlier this year. I’d watched Elsie throughout the last month of her pregnancy. She consumed two bags (about 2 pounds each) of a calcium supplement in her new “free choice” mineral bar. The first night, her ears were a little cold on my first visit to the corral–a sign in cows that calcium is being drawn from the body to produce milk. I’d read that apple cider vinegar given in water helps the body release phosphorus, which binds with the calcium and helps stabilize the system. So I stuck a bucket of water with about a cup of vinegar in it under her nose. She sniffed at it then slurped it all up, much to my surprise. (It’s a potent tasted for sure.) Within 15 minutes her ears were warm again. I did the same thing the second time I noticed cold ears on the second night, and she did exactly the same as well, taking the whole bucket. I did have a calcium paste waiting in the cool storage room in case she went down, but I didn’t want to give it to her unless I had to. With all the calcium she’d taken over the previous month I was afraid of overdosing her and stopping her heart. Your heart needs the right level of calcium to do its job. Too much or too little will kill you.
Elsie and Hannah are out of the danger zone now. Little Hannah is the sixth calf born on this property, and I’m struck by how fragile both mom and baby are in those first days of after giving birth or being born. It’s one thing to know through research that the most dangerous event in a Medieval woman’s life was childbirth. It’s quite another to watch the expression of the danger unfold before my eyes. So now that Hannah is four days old, I welcome her to the farm and hope that we have years of friendship between us to come.