I Lost Him



I wrote a while back about a calf that I brought back to life by using cayenne.  Here is the final chapter of that story.  And I have a request for anyone who has seen this kind of thing happen to please share your experience.

The original incident happened on the second of February and in a couple of days from the first notice, he was up, eating, and doing well.  A couple of days after that I turned him back out into the pasture.  That was before I wrote the first blog…..I was sure that he was fine.  A little over a week later I noticed that he was not looking good. I brought him back into the barn.

A few days later, I got present to the fact that the water that was provided for him was not going down and that his poop was really dry.  He was dehydrating himself.  He was eating well, hay and grain, but would not drink.

I bought some buttermilk and added it to a gallon of warm water, but I had to force it down him with a turkey baster.  He wanted it and sucked it up readily but even with the old trick of putting my fingers in his mouth to cause him to suck, he would not drink.  He tried to tear off my fingers like tearing hay.  He sucked a little but would not continue.  I tried putting a calf nipple into the water.  No luck with that either.  I gave him Kombucha.  He ate the SCOBY but he would not drink.  I doused him several times a day with cayenne.  I put molasses in the water.  Nothing helped.

I watched him eat with enthusiasm, but he just would not drink.   I forced water several times a day but he was not getting better.

As he got weaker and could not get up, I became concerned about the circulation in his legs.  So my daughter, one son, and I made a sling with an old blanket and tied it off between two sawhorses.  When I let him down that night I knew that I would have to figure something so I could lift him alone.

The next morning I found my fence stretcher and braced the rafter of my old barn and strung him up.  He barely moved his feet.  He ate well and I forced more water and buttermilk down him.  To see him eat, it would appear that he was healthy, but something was not right.

The next morning, I had to put him down.  He was too weak to even lift his head.  From the time he came back into the barn to the time he was dead was less than a week.  And I do not know why.

When I butchered him out I noticed that the gall bladder was stretched to the size of a softball.  I do not know what that means but I don’t think it is right.  I will be feeding the meat to my dogs so all is not lost.

So if any of you have experience with something like this, please comment so that I can learn something and I will not have to watch that happen again.

About Janolyn

I am a mother of 5 wonderful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. During the years that my children were growing up, we grew most of our own food with a vegetable garden, many fruit trees and berry patches. I grew flowers for joy. We milked goats and raised our own meats and eggs. I learned to make my own cheeses, butter, canned foods, sourdough, and fermented foods. I made our own health products like soap, hand creams, lip balm, and herbal tinctures. We live off the power grid and have learned to do without conveniences that most Americans consider essential. The land clearing and building has been mostly accomplished with hand tools; some of them even the right tool for the job. After a couple of miscarriages between #2 and #3 due to “standard medical procedures”, I consulted a midwife and my last 3 children were born safely at home. That was when I was first alerted to the fact that doctors did not know everything nor would they have the time to share it with their patients if they did. As I learned the basic principles of heath-through-nutrition from my midwife, I learned alternative gardening practices from her husband. That introduction started a lifelong love of learning the practical life of our ancestors. I want to share what I have been learning with you and learn from those who are also living a sustainable life.


I Lost Him — 7 Comments

  1. Janolyn, I’m so sorry to hear you lost him. When I read your story about him, I was happy he was getting stronger. I saw the topic of this post come through my email and my heart sunk. :-(

    • Thank you for this information Paula. I have gone over the whole list and none of these plants would have given him the symptoms that he had. I have a few of these in my pasture, but it is cold and not much is growing yet. There might be a possibility that something was in the hay, but all the rest of my animals have had no problems with it and nothing matches the symptoms. But this list is excellent to have around. I will keep it for reference.
      Thank you for sharing.

  2. I’m so sorry to hear about the calf. :( I know when I was a kid we lost calves occasionally, but I don’t know what happened to them.

    If something like this were to happen again, I would suggest giving wet feed…a mash of grains with water warmed up with molasses and maybe a bit of apple cider vinegar in it. Making up a batch of switchel for replacing electrolytes?

    I don’t have cattle but hope to have a dairy cow someday…so I’m always interested in learning about these things.

    • Thank you Lisa.
      I did forget to mention that I could get him to lap up water and buttermilk IF it was with his grain, but I was not going to feed him the amount of grain he would want to get enough water down him.
      I have heard of switchel for ever, but I have no clue what it is. Please share your recipe and it’s benefits.

  3. Oh darn. That stinks. :-( He was a fighter at least…and kudos to you for thinking outside of the box to try to heal the poor little critter. It could be that there was just something internally wrong with him that is not visible to the untrained eye…

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