Monday, July 14, 2008

Glad that's over! (long story)

You won't often find someone who's glad Monday's here and the weekend is gone, but that's the way I'm feeling right now!

This past weekend wasn't necessarily bad, just really busy. It started on Wednesday afternoon when my father left for an Alabama Farmers Federation conference in the south part of the state, which meant I would have to work the early morning milking shift until he got back. That really wasn't any big deal Thursday and Friday because our milkhand and I would start about 3:00am and be done by 5:30. That gave me a couple of hours to go home and nap before returning to the farm. From that point, the employees and I would work until noon, come back at 1:00, and would be finished by 4:00.

Things were different on Saturday, though.

I woke up about 2:30am, loaded the border collies in the truck, and struck out to run the cows from their pasture into the holding barn below our milking facility. We were "all hands on deck" Saturday with our milkhand (who was scheduled to be off this weekend) and two other full-time employees taking care of the milking duties. This allowed me to go ahead and take care of feeding the milking herd then head back to the house.

But this morning there would be no nap because I was scheduled to give a presentation on behalf of our state Young Farmers committee at the same meeting my father was attending. So as fast as I could brew a pot of coffee, shower, and put on some good clothes, I was headed south. Once I arrived, they worked me in almost immediately so I could give the presentation and get back to the farm.

I arrived back at the farm later that afternoon. Our cows' production was really down on Saturday due to the heat and humidity, and by 3:00pm both the milking and the feeding had been finished. I decided to leave the fans and sprinklers running for a couple of more hours and figured I would turn them off when I came back later that evening to check on three cows I suspected might be going into labor.

As I was leaving the house to go back to the farm at 5:30, I was only expecting to turn off a few fans, close a water valve, and see a few newborn calves. I'd be back home within 15 minutes, eat supper, and start preparing a Sunday School lesson for the next morning.

Turning off the fans and sprinklers was no problem, but the cows were a different story. One had given birth to a calf and was working on her second...she was having twins. Everything appeared to be o.k. with her, so I left her alone so she could finish the job in peace. The other two cows though were starting to show signs of distress with no visible indication that a calf was on it's way out. So I had to round them up from their pasture and move them into our working pen.

I helped the first deliver her calf without much difficulty, and moved on to the second one. It didn't take just a minute to realize that something was wrong with the way the calf was turned in her and that I would have to have help delivering it. I was able to get in touch with the veterinarian and he came over to take a look. After feeling of her, he made the decision that a c-section was the only way we would be able to deliver this calf. We prepped her for surgery and gave her anesthesia, then laid her down to work on her. The doctor was able to successfully deliver the fatally deformed calf and get the cow sewn back up (she's recovering nicely, by the way) about 8:30 Saturday evening. I came home, showered, ate supper, and went to bed.

I rolled out of bed about 2:20am on Sunday morning and headed back to the farm. No problems this time, it just took a little longer because our milkhand had the day off. I got home at 6:30am, cleaned up, we ate breakfast, and then started preparing a lesson (since I didn't do it the night before). We headed off to our church about 9:45, with me once again having replaced a nap with coffee.

We got home a little after noon, I ate my lunch, and got our milking equipment fired up about 1:00. By 4:00, dad had returned, the milking was done, the feeding was done, and it was time to close the book on the second weekend of July. I went home, took a shower, and took what my wife later described to me as a hibernation-like nap.

It's now Monday morning and I was able to "sleep in" until getting up at 5:00am to feed the cows. It's now time for me to fry up some bacon and eggs and then head on back and see what I can get accomplished this morning.

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