Saturday, June 29, 2013

Morning Drama

This is LaPli ...  

Here is the box (in Weldon's shop) where she had her babies ...
These are her FIVE babies ...

The little ones are just over a week old and two have already died. In my humble opinion, five babies are simply too many for a first-time mama.

Yesterday, Pat discovered that LaPli had moved her babies. She watched as LaPli went to the box in the shop and then came back out with a questioning look on her face, as if to say, "Now, what did I do with those babies?" Pat kept asking her, "Where are your babies?" LaPli looked right and left, scratched her head, and finally jumped up into the lumber pile in front of the calf shed.

I went to the hay barn this morning to bring some yogurt to the younger kittens, and Pat filled me in on LaPli's relocation. We moseyed over to the lumber pile to see how the little family was faring. We found Mama and one baby! Every now and then, we thought we could hear some crying, but, look as we might, from every possible angle, we couldn't find the other two.

(I did not have my camera during the actual events of this morning; the photos below were taken after I had sufficiently composed myself and realized I wanted to share this story on Farm Muse. That explains why you won't see any kitties in the photos below.)

This is the lumber pile ...

There is just enough room between and around each length of lumber for a little one to fall to a board below or, perhaps, all the way to the ground. The larger opening, about a third of the way down from the top of the stack, is where we found LaPli and the one kitten.

Two pieces of tin were leaned against the lumber, as well as the six "tractor weights" which can be seen in the foreground. We moved all of that so we could get close enough to feel around inside the stack of lumber. Sure enough, Pat found the second baby lodged uncomfortably behind Mama. Pat got the babies out and then gently "encouraged" LaPli to come out, too. She then put them in a cage in the hay barn.

But, wait! There's definitely another little squall coming from somewhere. Pat went to get a flashlight and then shined it between the lengths of lumber. Sure enough, there it was! If you look at the photo above and count down from that wider, middle opening, the baby was stuck between the 3rd and 4th board and the corresponding board that lies next to it on the inside, if that makes any sense. I stuck my arm down as far as my elbow would let me reach and could feel the kitten tightly wedged between the lengths of lumber.

I hunted for something to slide between the boards to hopefully push the baby loose, but everything I found was too wide or too sharp or "poke-y." I ran to the house, found a booklet that was a quarter-of-an-inch wide and wrapped it in a thin towel. I hurried back and pushed it in there and jabbed around. Well, that baby certainly had a strong cry, but I could not budge her.

My arm went back in through that wider opening. I grabbed its tail and pulled. Nope. That will never do. It was lying on its side, so I could feel its head, its right front and back leg, and its tail. I tried pushing and pulling. Nope.

I was getting desperate. Suddenly, I had its entire back end in my hand - both rear legs and its tail. I wiggled and jiggled, got a firmer grip, and pushed and pulled. Nothing. Finally, I thought, "Well, if I leave her here, she's dead; if I maim her trying to get her out, she's dead." With that, and a constant stream of prayer, I gently resolved to pull until she was free. And ... she was free! She let out a healthy cry and wriggled ferociously, and I snuggled her to my nose and sobbed.

Pat and I delivered the newly rescued baby to LaPli and her/his siblings. As of this writing, the little family is doing well, in their cage ....

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Follow Your Heart

A few weeks before my 62nd birthday, Weldon and I were in the milk barn (shocking, I know!) and we started tossing around words like sabbatical, R & R, leave of absence. Weldon said, "Vacation!" and I countered with "Retirement!" I then went on to say that perhaps I would retire on my birthday. Weldon grunted.

We tiptoed around the subject in the following days, neither of us saying anything very definite, neither of us being bold in our "yea" or "nay" thoughts. I don't know about Weldon, but I was certainly giving it some serious consideration. I went so far as to reassure him that I would only be retiring from COWS - not from cooking, cleaning, laundry, kitties, my part-time job, or any of the other things that life throws my way. Weldon humphed.

Sunday, May 12 (my birthday), I was finishing my morning Bible reading when Weldon called, "I'm heading out to chores." I responded with my usual, "I'll be there shortly." And, I was! We hadn't been milking very long when he said, "What are you doing down here? I thought you were going to retire." I explained that I didn't see how I could retire right now, knowing that the busiest time of the year was almost upon us.

Ten days later, after finishing morning chores, I announced that I just couldn't "do this" anymore. Weldon said he knew it was coming because I was humming, "Take This Job and Shove It." Not true, but he has gotten many a laugh with that line.

I have helped with the milking a few times since my retirement took effect, and when it's time for planting and harvesting, I'll try to be a good and cheerful farm assist once again.

Despite what Weldon says, I have not become a lady of leisure!
I thought I'd be feeling really guilty, but sometimes you just have to go with your heart (or your gut?) knowing it's the right decision. I am at peace. I am retired from cows!