(The stories are real, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent…LOL)
Since this is the first tale, there was a little pressure in choosing the right one to start with. I have elected something heartwarming, but don’t worry, the crazy, bizarre and comical tales are yet to come.
One afternoon in the early fall, I was called out to a farm in Union county to look at a cow that was down. I was met by a middle-aged woman, named Clair and her two teenaged children, Sarah and Sam. I followed them out to the area of the pasture where a very skinny red and white commercial cross cow (in other words, mutt cow, made up of many different breeds) was laying in what we call a sternal position, meaning she was in a resting position but not flat out on her side. She was very weak. Her belly was big what I soon determined was late term pregnancy, but all her bones were showing. I checked her over and made a diagnosis of pregnancy toxemia. I palpated her and sure enough she had a good-sized calf in there. I proceeded to let the owner know my thoughts and options to remedy the situation. I told her what her options were, and she started to cry. Had I said something that made this woman cry? I apologized in case I had and asked why she was crying. She composed herself and said, “Oh no, you did not make me cry. You see, these were my husband’s cows and he passed away several months ago and I have not been able to watch after these cows like he did. I have been so busy with everything else life has thrown at me. I knew this cow was getting thinner, but I did not give it more than a passing thought. This was his favorite cow. He named her Rosie. I really do not want to lose Rosie but if Rosie is not going to survive, I would very much like to have her calf to raise. If nothing else but to have something else of his to have as a reminder.” I looked around at the teary-eyed teenagers that were standing nearby. Great, no pressure. I had to explain that there were a lot of “ifs” here and we may lose both. The calf could already be dead inside her. The mom will not likely survive surgery. Waiting on medical induction takes 36 hours. Of course, money is a concern and we had to be budgetarily minded. After much discussion, the owner elected to have me do what is called a salvage C-section and make an attempt to save the calf. This essentially means, kill the mother quickly without chemical means (so as not to harm the calf) and get the calf out as quick as possible. Once blood flow stops to the calf, you only have moments before the calf dies too. I’ll save your sensibilities about the details surrounding euthanizing the cow. Once that was done, I jumped into action. My knife was sharp, thankfully, so it did not take long to get through the abdomen and to the uterus. I cut open the uterus and quickly removed the calf. The first miracle of this story is that the calf was alive and looked fully mature. Hallelujah! Everyone started crying with joy for the little heifer calf that seemed completely normal and mostly red in color. I was instructing the kids how to clean her off when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye coming from inside poor dead Rosie. “What was that?” I said out loud. I looked toward the site in question and there it was again, a definite jump. “No way. Could it?” I went back in and inspected the uterus and sure enough, there was the second miracle of this story. Another calf! I found a somewhat smaller little heifer baby, colored just like her momma. I got a little loud and exclaimed there’s another one! Claire looked up from the miracle #1 with confusion on her face and then it dawned on her what I was saying. I pulled miracle #2 from the goo and laid her next to her sister. Then the water works really started. Both calves appeared no worse for the wear, full term and looking around like a normal delivery occurred. Truly amazing. Now they had two bottle babies to care for in Rosie’s honor and in memory of their dad.
The miracle here is that when cows get down with pregnancy toxemia like Rosie did, their bodies start breaking down to provide nourishment for the pregnancy. When they get to the condition Rosie was in, the mothers are in a critical state and near death themselves. However, the calves are also usually near death. If I had waited to induce Rosie and let her try to have the calves on her own, she may have been dead before that could happen and we would have lost both. A full surgery to save both mom and calves was not in the budget unfortunately. This was truly the best outcome possible to have live calves. I did not expect twins, but that does make sense. Pregnancy toxemia often occurs when multiple fetuses are present. However, it can occur with singles, especially when you have an older cow like Rosie. For Rosie to have carried twins to term, in her age, and given up the opportunity to deliver them both safely was a miracle indeed. Even though Rosie was not the third miracle of the story, we got two miracles.