We processed the meaties and took all the lambs to the sale, as I cannot shear them, so we have made the decision to find some lower maintenance Katahdin hair sheep. We shipped the goat kids as well, since they are so hard to fence in and were always breaking into everything and generally making my day very stressful. I gave away my mare because I can no longer ride colts. Our nephew sold my other horse for me, so I am down to just good old Wimpy. He should be able to accommodate my growing weakness. My strength has deteriorated considerably over the past couple of years.
Dolly, my sweet , sweet Jersey cow, died today. We never even got back from the vet. Her prognosis was fair. I had done all the right things for her. I was to watch her for a few days. I am profoundly sad. My laptop died and my internet does not work. I feel as though I am being sequestered in my sorrow and pain. All the loss in my life, seems magnified today.
My world has been shaken.
I am already missing Dolly’s little crooked face and the funny way she walked.
Time and again she made me laugh, as she lolled her tongue and looked like she was singing. She’d let me go sit with her while she laid in the shade under the trees and loved to have her brisket and shoulders scratched. She would stand like a statue while I milked her, although she was never good about 'letting down'. She always held some back for the calves. She hadn’t always been good, but we had grown together and I was sad to dry her off last year, as my milking time with her had become such a pleasure. Her cream was heavenly. She loved the Fall, when the apples all fell from the trees. She couldn’t wait to vacuum them up.
She was mean to the dogs, always. She loved ‘her’ babies, it didn’t matter whose they were, she loved on them, and fed them sacrificially. She raised countless leppies in her short little life of only 5 years. She doted on Mo, even more than she had Emma. I loved the soft moo she had just for him. It was so tender and loving, it stirred my heart everytime I heard it. She and Em were constantly licking on each other, and Dolly was forever licking little Mo.
To the world, she was just a cow, but she brought so very much to my life. Many cold winter nights were spent in the barn pouring my heart out to her. Leaning my head into her warm flank while she gave up her milk, listening to her rhythmic chewing, the soft sweet, grassy smell of her breath in my face brought comfort when heartbreak visited and revisited. Seeing her hiding in her little ‘tent’, which she loved, belching in my face when I would sneak up to see her, making me laugh. It tickled me to see how she strutted around in her ‘prom dress’ last winter, I was surprised because I didn’t think a cow would accept wearing a blanket in the winter, but she could hardly wait for me to put it on her. She’d lick it and stuff her head through the neck hole, hurrying me along.
On my treks through the tall weeds with the dogs, she would always peek out from her hiding place to say hello. She passionately loved her food, her life and her calves. She was a happy cow and she made me happy too.
Because of her, I learned to make soap and butter, sour cream and cheeses. She was the impetus to so many of the things that now make up my life. All the things that have saved me from pain and myself since I’ve been forced to accept physical limitation and the gut wrenching loss that comes with it, all were gifts from her.
I prayed all winter she’d be pregnant. Once I was sure of it, I prayed her delivery would go smoothly. I was terrified to lose her to milk fever or some other horrible malady. I loved this little cow. I wasn’t prepared for ketosis. Not with all the feed we had here. Not with the way she loved to eat. I was being so careful. She looked so good. She went into this calving looking better than ever.
Sweet Dolly would mother every hungry calf that came to her. She stood patiently while her calf Mo, as well as the orphan calf we had grafted on Emma and Emma herself and her calf sucked the life out of her. She loved them and nurtured them until it began to ravage her own body as she continued to produce even more milk for them, unable to keep up with the calorie demands she and they placed on herself.
I separated them all when I found out, but she would grieve and refuse food…standing outside the fence crying for them. I finally removed her and put little Mo in the pasture with her far from them, where she couldn’t see anyone else. It was too late. She couldn’t recover.
She lost weight at an alarming rate. Even with the green grass and alfalfa available to her and all the extras I brought daily, begging her to eat, she kept getting thinner and weaker. We raced her to the vet, hours away. They found nothing else wrong with her, just the ketosis that had taken hold. After tubing her with a solution that would help energize her and turn the ketosis around, as the molasses had done in the past, we headed home, planning how we would best situate her to get her back on her feet. I was hopeful and grateful and confident she would get better soon.
My greatest fear became reality. She’s gone. Her poor wasted little body is laying out in my horsetrailer, waiting for Randy to come with the tractor and take her away. Despite our greatest efforts, my cajoling, my begging, my forcing sustenance into her with a stomach tube when necessary, she starved herself to death. She barely made it home. She was down when we went to unload her, unable to lift her head. I sat with her awhile, crying, begging and with resignation and great sorrow, I left her to die as comfortably as she was able. We had put Mo in front of the trailer, where he couldn’t nurse her, but she could hear him. The last sounds I heard her make, she called softly to him.
I miss you Dolly. You enriched my life in ways I could never have dreamed. We will continue on as before, Emma, Willy, Mo and I, but you will be fondly remembered and sorely missed.
We are not promised tomorrow. Even when we are hurting, we can thank Him for the gifts. Yesterday
is gone, but we can still have forever. Thank You Lord, for Dolly.