Across the Internet and in homes everywhere, people are applauding and welcoming the arrival of fall and cooler days, rain, warm sweaters and cold nights. I love fall and winter but guess what else accompanies them? Cold and flu season has arrived, people!
A few weeks ago, croup made the rounds of our small farm community and it sounds like strep is starting to rear its ugly head now, too! I breastfed for 6.5 months and, theoretically, my little cowgirl should have an iron wall up against all bugs and bacteria, but I know that she is still going to get hit with something. It’s just a matter of when.
Sick babies are no one’s idea of fun. Especially if we parentals are sick too – I can remember having mastitis last March while my babe had a bad cold. I had to stay alert and awake to care for her but. needed. a. nap. Being sick is the pits.
Not only am I a mama in charge of keeping a babe healthy, I’m also a rancher in charge of keeping quite a few cows and calves alive and healthy. Our cattle live outdoors, like 99.9% of cattle around the country, so they are subject to the elements. Rain and wind are hunky dory if you’re inside your home in a Target cardigan clutching your cocoa and watching The Office on repeat. But if you’re a calf and you get wet from a [relaxing] rainstorm, that overnight temp of 39*F is less than favorable. Think about how crappy you’d feel in that situation… probably like a negative amount of money.
So, when cold and flu season arrives, for both babies and cattle alike, I’ve got two highly important folks in my “Favorites” group on the ole smartphone.
Our pediatrician and our veterinarian. The relationship with both of these professionals is vital.
Case in point, when we identify an animal that needs a heightened level of care, we go into high alert. For example, if we see a calf or cow with its head hung low, mouth open and not exhibiting much vigor, we automatically pull that animal from the pasture and call the vet.
Our vet will visually evaluate the animal and possibly take some measurements or tests, depending on her suspicions, and then we start treatment and rehabilitation per her expert instructions and guidance. From there on out, it’s a constant conversation with her about symptoms, prescribed treatments and development. We will check on the animal multiple times a day and report progress to our vet, who will alter treatment protocols as the situation progresses. Not only is this time consuming, it’s quite stressful. In order for the animal to get better we need time, pathology, science and the Good Lord to be on our side.
It’s so much more than following directions. Having a good relationship with our vet enables us to get treatment more quickly than if we were talking to a stranger. Are you going to take your kid to a new doctor every time she gets sick? Of course not – you have your own general practitioner that knows your medical history, allergies, etc. Same with livestock – our vet knows our herd, previous vaccine history and any diseases or illnesses we may have had pop up in the past. That relationship is incalculable and allows us to provide precise care promptly as needed.
In fact, here’s a list of people I talk to more often than the vet:
My husband. My parents. My boss.
Thaaat’s about it.
You’ll notice the pediatrician isn’t on that list because, Praise the Lord, our babe is pretty healthy. Must be all the dirt, animals and allergens she’s exposed to daily.
Back to the sick animal, 90% of the time everything works out and the cow or calf returns to full health within a few days and we go back to business as usual.
We work very hard to prevent disease by keeping our pens clean, providing clean feed and water and following a vaccine protocol. Despite our best efforts, sometimes animals still do get sick. When that happens, we initiate the sequence described earlier. It’s not necessarily convenient to be this dedicated to making sure our animals are healthy but it’s absolutely the right thing to do. This is the life we love and, although it comes with challenges, we are fortunate to be raising beef cattle to feed the U.S. and teaching our daughter this rural way of life as we go along.
Until next time,
~ Buzzard ~
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