Sunday, 3 January 2010
Not so happy new year
Another cow down, but this time with either three day sickness or tick fever. Either way, her back leg is stiff as a board with paralysis, and though it's now seven days since we found her at the top of the hill with her calf marming at her to get up, she's still alive, just not kicking.
When we first found her, she looked terrible, shaking and panting and we had to visit the woman down the road to see if she'd be available to put her down - she has a gun and a licence for it - but it being Christmas, no one was home. The vet was also no where to be found and as we'd had a cow recover from three day sickness before, we decided to give her a chance. That's been G-Man's entire festive season, every couple of hours he's headed up the hill to pour water down her throat and offer her lucerne and molassas. And still, she's hanging in. She doesn't appear to be in any pain, just unable to mover that stiff back leg, but I'm getting worried that if she doesn't get up soon, she'll be too bloody weak to get up at all, and it will all have been for nothing.
Makes you think when you're faced with a sick animal. Conventional wisdom says that the animal should be 'put out of its misery'. Sure, she's elderly for a cow, and lack of nutrition has left her immune system low on steam, but she is still breathing and eager to drink, which makes me think that she's still eager to live. Who the hell am I to go reaching for a bullet on her behalf. I know what it's like not to be able to get up for days because of a slipped disk in my back and certainly don't expect anyone to be thinking of putting me out of my misery. We did everything we could to make Geoff's mother comfortable after her fall and consequent broken wrist and pelvis, and my own mother is currently in hospital having had a turn, and no one is thinking of reaching for any final solution for her 'suffering'. So bugger it - we are here and have the time and the patience to make Number 82 as comfortable as possible untill the swelling goes down in the hope that she will get up and walk again.
We've since found out that three day sickness can take weeks rather than just three days. Perhaps it may not actually be three day sickness. Perhaps she lost her footing on the newly muddy slope and fell awkwardly and has broken her hip. On Monday we'll get the vet out to look at her and tell us what her chances are. If it is a broken hip, then maybe the only option is to have her euthanased, but the vet can do it with an injection. After tending to her there is no way I could do the deed. Having looked into her eye for the past week I am comvinced that she is as conscious as I am - a big animal like that has got to have a level of consciousness to match its complexity.
The three month old calf has had no choice but to wean itself, and has thankfully been adopted by another member of the herd who broke through two fences to get to it. take it into its custody and teach it to eat grass and suck water from the dam. Besides, it was impossible (but wildly comical) for us to catch the little critter in the open field, and she's saved us the trouble of poddying the youngster.
Fingers crossed for Number 81.