No sitting bull here!

For once, the excitement on the croft happened while I was away…Tim did still have his mum to watch the Mini-Crofter so I don’t feel he got the full adrenaline/stress effect, but hey, every episode counts…Yes, Renoir decided that his romance life was pants and wee Hilda, with her glossy sheen, bright eyes, and situated in the green, green grass, needed him to scale the gate and rescue her. However, his misjudgement of the length of his legs and the size of the gate meant if it had been me, I would have phoned a friend! As it was, Tim was home with his mother up helping so, as she and the Mini-Crofter watched on, he helped give the bull some stilts to help him over. We may not have planned to put Renoir in with the girls just yet but at least we will know when Hilda’s due. May he have learned his lesson and not do it again though…


What a difference a day makes.

Here’s the Crofting version of the commentary style of the TV programme ‘Big Brother’:

Monday, 12.25: iCalf 2 born to Dryope while the Crofter’s home. On its feet within 11 mins. All is calm on the croft.

Tue: iCalf 2 is running round the byre and feeding on its mother. Mother cow’s not happy for getting shut in the byre while the rest chomp through the lushest grass but she’s not bellowing enough to get an ASBO.

Wednesday, 8am: Crofter leaves for the day to work in Invergorden…

8.43 am: Calf is found flat out in the straw arching his head back in a very haunting posture.

9.17 am: Call the vet! As soon as I said two day old calf down they said they’d get a vet out.

10.03 am: Clock watching. Calf is still breathing but this is taking the vet forever…

10.27am: Vet arrives to say ‘ohh, he doesn’t look too good’ (hmm, why else did I ring you…).

10.33 am: Mini Crofter has decided he has had enough of the byre by this time so sprint down the road and ask the neighbours for help in watching him.

10.46 am: Vet has already tried to find jugular veins on both sizes of his neck, some fluid does go in before giving up and going subcutaneous, followed by two injections, with the vet having said e.coli and meningitis…and just be careful with e.coli as it can be passed to humans, particularly young children…

11.02 am: ‘If he survives, you’ll need to give him oral fluids 3 times a day and injections for the next 9 days. Ur, right, how do I do a stomach tube in a calf (thankfully we had one and hydration tablets just in case)…And off pops the vet…

11.26 am: Retrieve Mini Crofter much to his disgust (the neighbours have a lovely sand arena for their horses, aka, gigantic sandpit/play area to a 16 month old).

12.30 pm: Phone call from Jeanette (local farmers who I had called in the morning before the vet but had left a message). Ian was busy but she’d send him round to help once he got back to make sure I was getting the tube right.

2.30 pm: Attempt passing the stomach tube on the vets advice, calf got a litre. Relief.

3.30 pm: Mini Crofter is firmly strapped into his pushchair to watch my lesson ‘ITU for calves’ from Farmer Ian. Ian also braces me to the prospect that the calf has a slim chance of survival.

5.45 pm: Crofter returns home! What a relief. It may have only been a day but it always happened when he’s gone!

7 pm: Mini Crofter tucked up in bed

7.15pm: Crofter goes to get the mini-milking machine set up to find it has seized. Oh pants. Hand milking a cow can be a lengthy job when your hand muscles are not use to it.8pm: Tube the calf, no difference in behaviour.

8.30 pm: Machine is finally working. Dryope is then milked and find out she’s got mastitis. Attempt to inject the cow, third time I get the Crofter to do it (her skin is like thick leather!)

9.30pm: Farmer Ian comes by to check on us (there was no answer on the phone when his wife called so thought they had better check I was ok). So nice to have people like this so close.

Thursday, all day: calf is routinely tubed and given fluid. No change in behaviour though. Two injections into his neck are much easier than his mother!

Friday 8 am: Calf is found on its feet! Able to suck some but not enough for a bottle. The calf may have been near dead but he’s not happy when I go to inject him.

12 noon: Offered a bottle and guzzled 1 litre (still looking pretty spaced and not the best with his balance). Attempt to get him feeding on his mother. Nearly, but not quite getting the hang of it.

So, thus ends the story so far. He is still with us but needing help. Tomorrow I should have been running in a 10K race in Edinburgh. I wonder how many people do not attend races because a member of their livestock becomes unwell? Some might think it’s a lame excuse, as the Crofter has ended up still being at home (he was due to head off Thursday night). However, looking after a sick calf, an unwell cow and a Mini Crofter is really a two person job. Think I’m just looking forward to a day off sometime soon…maybe July?


Fearghus’ finale

May the grass rise up to give you food,

May the wind keep pesky flies away,

May the sun shine warm for one week in summer to let us make hay for you for an entire winter (just a small request Lord),

May the rain fall gently on your rump,

May the trailer greet you carefree with open doors,

And then we shall meet again…

Yes, it was that time last week, a family occasion to see another one of the herd leave the steering group. Fearghus went off the croft in one form and will be back in about 21 days. If anyone is wanting beef before it is frozen please get in touch as collection will need to be arranged once I get a pick-up date from the butcher. Steaks and roasts are still available for collection/delivery. All other cuts will be back on the menu soon.


iCalf 2

iCalf 2 was born today while the Crofter was home. Typical that the most placid cow does it when there are two of us about and you can watch the event from the kitchen window.

No, we have not named either calf yet but this is the year for names beginning with ‘I’; usually Scottish based, iMacCoo doesn’t count. Unless of course the jokes can continue with iRump, iSteer Pro, and iGrill.

Today’s calf came with the first rain we have had in ages (really, the river is low, the IBC tank for the chickens is completely empty and daily top ups are required!). So, after digging out the waterproofs from beneath the sun hats and sun cream, mother and calf were slowly moved to inside the byre with its fresh straw and sheltered walls away from the intense curiosity of the rest of the herd. Nothing like being inundated with visitors when you’re trying to find your feet!

Two out, one to come…


Rolling Stones

Always reassuring when the Crofter comes into the house to tell me “Well, at least the chicken coop isn’t demolished!”. Yes, to be fair, the Crofter does work and today’s job has been to remove ‘a few bumps’ from the top field. All well and good but the term ‘tip of the iceburg’ comes to mind. Just small stones, until you start digging and hence a machine digger was used. And after three were placed in the tipping trailer, two were too big and had to be rolled. One being pretty flat sided so needing nudging all the way; the other, just a wee push and it headed straight for the coop. At the last gasp it swung wide and came to rest in front of the coop. Thankfully there were no chickens in that one at the time (its their winter house while they are currently residing in their summer abode).


Just a few more stones to shift if anyone wants to join in the rolling stones competition? Reward: you can keep the stone you dig out.


Wild thing!

98B591E7-B709-4046-A76C-D4CE327B8048.jpegWild thing…makes my heart sink! Breena, you over-hormonal cow who gave birth to the first of our calves this year, caused my stress level to hit jackpot. One charging beast and I quickly left the byre! Mini Crofter was dropped off at our lovely neighbours who had to make out what I was asking for while in tears (laugh if you want but don’t come running to me if you get charged by a hormonal cow post calving while on your own with a toddler bawling his head off while watching…he can get his counselling once he’s older, I was working on strong coffee and prayers…).  Back to the byre to try and pen the beast. Still wild and my nerves on a very fine balance. With that I did the unthinkable, I called for help. Two local farmers…however, how do you keep cow-cred with a situation that you know fine rightly what needs done but don’t want to go anywhere near one of your own cows? My thought: stuff cow-cred! Breena, your future’s not bright, it’s burgers at this rate! Phone advice: leave her alone for a few hours…So, at lunch time along came Farmer Ian. A man who’s confidence had not been shot to pieces and has years of experience. And wee stories of similar situations help you feel less of a baffoon.

Seeing a calf get a good stomach full of feed helps to know all is well. Not witnessing this means you look for clues, but clues can be deceiving. Having someone to compare observations can help. Often with our cows you tread carefully but they let you help the calf on or you see it happening. No such luck with this one. We tried several options but she wouldn’t allow much and a near miss meant we figured we’d leave them for another few hours.

This evening, after the Mini Crofter was asleep I was back in the byre, a night in with the girls. Breena was not head butting gates although was still occasionally shaking her head at me, three other contented cows munching on hay, and a wee bull calf sleeping. If he had been sucking I oils have been sleeping easier tonight. But as it is, the Mini Crofter and I will be back out before breakfast to reassess the situation. Oh well. If only cows could communicate…