The Tough Decisions

**Warning** If you’re hoping for an uplifting post I would skip this one until later.

Life and death.

It’s reality, right? Especially on a farm.

Sometimes that reality is a lot harder to deal with than I would like.

Here on the farm we are lucky to have many healthy and happy calves born every year.

It’s not the norm, but sometimes cows lose their pregnancy early, just as a human mother may have a miscarriage. Still births also happen on occasion, no matter how carefully we monitor the mother cows.

It’s sad to witness a cow futility trying to coax her baby to stand when there just isn’t life or breath in the little body.

I do think some of these unfortunate situations are nature’s way of dealing with a calf that wasn’t healthy. Maybe there were developmental problems, and the calf couldn’t have survived or had a healthy life.

And sometimes a calf is born very much alive, but they simply are not healthy.

A little heifer born this winter started out okay, but she was wobbly on her feet. This is normal for a few days, but instead of getting better, she got worse.

Even at a few days old it became evident that her joints and limbs were definitely not normal.

We had the vet look at her, and we followed multiple treatments to try and keep her comfortable while bringing healing to her troubled joints.

In the human world, this baby would be the type that you find in the neonatal ICU. There would probably be lots of research done on her specific condition, and specialists would know how to help her.

Maybe she would ultimately be in a wheelchair, but she could still have a chance at life.

Unfortunately, they don’t make wheelchairs for cows. People and animals are different, and when an animal is having serious difficulty walking, the prognosis is bleak.

The decision to put an animal down feels like a catch 22. You hate to “give up” on her, but it’s not fair or right to let an animal struggle when you know there is little chance of recovery.

After we’d done what we could with treatments and TLC, it was time to say goodbye.

Tonight there will be one less calf to feed.

I’ll give thanks for the healthy and vigorous ones, and I’ll feel somber respect for the one who isn’t there.

Running Tales

Things aren’t much perkier on the running front.

I still feel exhausted, more sore than normal, and mildly ill.

Monday… I overslept a lot. So much for getting right back on track.

Tuesday I ran something over 4 miles, easy, and I actually felt pretty good by the end.

Today will probably be another rest day unless I can sneak in a rare evening run.

Either Thursday or Friday I really want to do some speed work on the treadmill, and then the weekend looks gorgeous for outdoor miles.

I’m seeing forecasts in the 50s, so I definitely plan to try for a Saturday and Sunday run if I feel ship-shape.

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Agriculture ( in general), Baby Calf Care, Cows, Running. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Tough Decisions

  1. Anna says:

    Oh that’s tough! Poor little calf and mama! I’m not what I’d call an animal lover (except, of course, for my sweet little labrador) but I always think it seems so sad for animals when you can’t explain the pain a little or talk to ease their desperation.

    I hope the warmer temperatures temper your exhaustion and get you back on the running track! Feel better soon!

  2. Runblondie26 says:

    😦 Sorry to hear about the calf. Another tough aspect of the job I never really thought about.

    Sounds like a beautiful weekend ahead of you. The weather should be just right for running. Enjoy!

  3. Terzah says:

    I’m sorry about the calf, Lisa. I don’t know if I could handle that. When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet….until I found out you had to put animals down.

    The running will come back. Some weeks are just like that.

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks all for your kind words on the calf and the running.

  5. Rebecca says:

    😦 So sorry for the loss on the farm. Life is so unfair sometimes. The cows are lucky to have people that care about them as much as you guys.

    How is Henrietta doing?

    • Lisa says:

      Gosh, I haven’t done a Henrietta in a while! I’ll need to work on that. She’s well and healthy – currently in the 2nd biggest pen in our calf barn. And she’ll turn 6 months old in a few weeks.

  6. taratru says:

    I’m sorry for such a rough day. I hope things are starting to look up!

  7. Heidi Nicole says:

    It sucks when nature takes over and makes decisions for you. Especially when its a cute little calf! But I will say that seeing all of that “circle of life” stuff going down on the farm gave me a very healthy perception of life and how important/fleeting it truly is…

    Hope the weather gets/stays great so you can spend some quality time outside getting your run on! 🙂

  8. Jess says:

    Awww… that’s tough. But I think the lovely part of this post is that even though you’re exposed to this sort of thing from time to time, it still affects you deeply. And I feel that too, when we hear about how things are going during calving at our neighbors (as you saw in my last post – one that ended particularly well – none of us expected that calf to be born alive). I used to work for a vet, and was involved in many times when an animal was compassionately assisted from this life to the next. Sometimes it was a beautiful event, but it was never easy.

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