Sushi Moo continued to outsmart us in our attempts to wean her from Emma. She first managed to pull the teat thru the bottom of the mud-flap we put on her halter. I resorted to a medieval torture looking device with prongs on it to discourage her. She managed to maneuver a teat through the hole on the top of her weaning ring. We taped that closed so she could no longer work it thru to her mouth.
Things went along swimmingly for a few days. Then Emma’s milk production started dropping off a little more each day. I felt guilty, as I was apparently late for milking each day, because an unhappy Emma was always standing at the gate dripping from an overly full bag, looking miserable. Then one night, I noticed that one of her rear quarters was quite definitely less full than the other. That night the milk wouldn’t strain, indicating congestion. That explained the full bag. She had been letting down for Sushi early in the day, who only took a little bit, not relieving the congestion in her udder, making for one unhappy cow.
Sushi had managed to figure out if she turned her head sideways, she could push the ring out of the way and grab ahold of a teat from the bottom. It was more a slurpee experience than a full on meal, but she could get Emma to let down her milk again for her, instead of for me. The result of doing this to her mother several times a day resulted in Emma coming down with mastitis in the quarters that were continually full. She also got her into the habit of letting down for her and not for me.
I quickly stripped her out and administered an antibiotic teat infusion. There was a large knot in the back of her rear quarter, though no heat and apparently no pain so I was hoping I had caught it quickly. I milked her 3 times a day to keep the udder as empty as possible to discourage bacterial growth and applied lard and cayenne over the knot at night and a mixture with peppermint oil by day to help break up the mass. The mass was a wee bit smaller but I didn’t want to take any chances, so we made an appt. to drive her into town to the vet. That way if a culture needed to be done, it could be done and we could use whatever antibiotics would be effective.
I was going to have to get up early and drive her the almost 2 hours into the vet clinic on my own as they were busy putting together the ‘Beach Hut’ down at the hot springs. For years, people have come from far and wide, trespassing on the ranch’s private property to soak in the hot springs and using the internet to invite all their friends and strangers to do the same. Multiple efforts have been made to discourage this, including a fancy sign that was routed out, on posts sunk in cement, alerting people that it was private property and access was by permit only. The trespassers built a bonfire and burned down the sign. The boss had his guys build a fence across it. Someone drove their truck thru the fence.They painted ‘private property’ on the galvanized tin that was part of the windbreak by the spring. They tore the tin off. Increased risk of cows getting out or hurting someone, the liability for someone acting stupidly and getting injured on the property and trying to sue, the amount of trash, wine and beer bottles left around, a few unsavory visitors, naked gay guys, more than a few naked young people, graffiti and the family having to chase people off when they themselves finally had some free time to go down and enjoy their own springs, brought the inevitable conclusion that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So a lot of work is being done putting in a parking lot, camping sites, showers, private tubs and a ‘beach hut’ where supplies (like trunks) can be purchased. With a ton of work to do on that, while still running an enormous working ranch with a large population of cattle, everyone was busy all the time, Randyman included.
Having only 1 vehicle for the past 10 years I don’t do much driving. Actually, truth be told...I don’t do ANY driving. I can’t say I was looking forward to the experience, but I didn’t want to let things with Em get worse before we got a handle on it. Randy mentioned to the boss, that I was going into the vet with her by myself and he immediately made re-arrangements with everyone else’s schedules to allow Randy to drive me in. I love our ranch family. Not everyone works for someone like that. Not everyone even KNOWS someone like that and that consideration and compassion seems to be a character trait ingrained in most of his family.
We borrowed my nephew’s horse trailer since ours is full of hay, and loaded up EmmaLou, Annie and Shugar, the baby goat. I decided since we were already making the trip, I’d let the vet disbud Sugar as I am not comfortable holding her still enough to do it. The last goats we disbudded didn’t turn out so good. Out of 6 goats, we got back 11 horns. I decided it was time for a demo.
Putting the Maremmas in with the sheep we bounced down the dirt road to the booming town of Burns, OR. Emma did not enjoy her ride there and was anxious to get out of the trailer. She wasn’t paying much attention to where she put her feet and missed the step down, landing on her knees and nose, sort of melting out onto the ground. Somewhat embarrassed, she shook herself off and we cajoled her into the hydraulic chute. Things looked like they were progressing pretty well. The vet felt she is pretty much over the mastitis, but one more infusion and some banamine to help fight inflammation and hopefully take the nodule down a bit more would do the trick. I just need to strip her out for 3 more days and we can go back to our regular milking again. I have no idea what we are going to do with Sushi.
While there, we decided to have Emma preg checked. The vet said she “felt like she might be bred, but her tract is too long and I can’t get my hand far enough where it drops off to be sure”. She decided to use the ultra sound. This time it looked less likely that she is bred. Instead, we took some blood for me to send in to BIOpryn to see if they can give us a better idea. I have suspected she is not, but there is no way to be certain. If she isn’t, that means I have to milk her through, which means we are not likely to be able to go to California next winter. Not a good thing, as family only stays a few days, if they are able to make it up here.
As we ran around town doing our errands, I pondered again, how folks are in SE Oregon. Total strangers always offer a friendly hello and start a conversation wherever you go. Sometimes they offer information a Californian would never want to give out, one fellow not only giving us the general direction of where he lived, but telling us landmarks of how to get there. Where I used to live, a person would be nervous someone might come and break in, steal, or harm you or your property, if they knew how to find you. You never gave information about where you lived. In SE Oregon, folks hope you will come by and enjoy a visit. Of course, in California, most people have little more than a bolt lock, pepper spray and a cockapoo for protection, in SE Oregon everyone has rifles, shotguns, handguns and a slew of working dogs. Not many rely on locks here and there’s not much crime. In fact, the West Oregon shooting this year was stopped by a citizen with a CCW pulling out his gun. The shooter saw it and turned his own gun on himself. So yeah, we feel fairly safe here.
Folks are neighborly and life here is more like a Norman Rockwell painting than the sadly tarnished and crime ridden culture that has overtaken much of the country. With so many out of work and so few jobs for youth these days, there isn’t much for them to do besides get in trouble.
One of the things I notice that is very different from when we lived in the city is that when we go into the local township, we mostly see men instead of women, out and about often with toddlers in their arms or at their sides. This is a culture of working ranchers and farmers mostly and there is a strong sense of family. Dads are able to find the time to run the errands for Mom while they are picking up feed, tractor parts or whatever other errands they themselves might have. Kids here have an opportunity too few kids have today and that is unlimited access to their fathers, as most families work, eat and play together.
We made a last ditch effort of weaning Emma. I ordered a case of weaning rings with NO holes, but has nasty bumpies and pricklies which this time, I faced outwards towards EmmaLou. I figured if SHE didn’t enjoy the experience, perhaps she herself would finally take the necessary steps to convince Sushi that nursing was no longer an option. One night she gave no milk at all, her bag completely dry. The next I got a gallon and a half. Last nite I got 2, but she had already let down and was dripping. The milk was getting hard to filter again, so I don’t know if she is letting down for Sushi, if Sushi has found a way around THIS weaning ring as well, or if it is just coincidence. I suspect Sushi has something to do with it. She always seems to be in the center of a problem. If so, she’ll be leaving soon. Maybe to go live with some of the boss’ cows, maybe to a freezer near you. Not sure, just know I am awfully unhappy with her at the moment!
BioPryn contacted me. EmmaLou is not pregnant. More bad news.
I'll have to ask the boss about borrowing another bull before they are ready to breed the ranch cows. He's always been very generous to us about such things. Like I said, who wouldn't want to work for them?
I have begun milking little Annie. She is a fabulous little goat. She stands perfectly still, even though she had never been milked before. She is NOTHING like my drama queen Nubians were. She is dainty, quiet, well mannered and delightful. The only drawback is, I am getting only 1-2 cups of milk. But Shugars is nursing full time and Annie is a first time mama so I won't judge her poorly for not supplying me better.
Oh well. Back to soaping. Summer is almost here.