Day 16 – Calving Season 2022 – Krakow, Kiev and Caring

The day started when my phone rang and Russ was on the line asking me to get the heater going in the dog room, he had a cold calf to bring in, it was about 7:15am. 

The calf did not act predictably at all, for instance it clenched its jaw shut and would not even suck a finger placed in its mouth. We could not figure out what we were seeing, but wondered if its Mom had stepped on it. 

Russ took this video early on in the morning.

In the video when Russ suggests we name the calf Kiev my brain was in a scrambly state.  I thought it was not a good thing to name a dying calf after a city fighting for its existence.  Not for the calf’s sake, but for the city’s sake.  Not that what happens on our ranch is going to effect the balance in Ukraine, but I just feel like we should be careful about such things.  Russ was not feeling exactly optimistic about the calf, he was as confused as I was every time he dropped in, but he saw no reason not to name it Kiev, based on the fact that its mother is “Krakow”, (capital of Poland), so we were keeping with an Eastern European theme. Russ has Kiev on the brain it seems.

I gave our calf the first part of my morning but then needed to get paying attention to other things, among them that I was expecting to feed 13 people Easter lunch.   Jill came upstairs and took over for me.  That girl was a trooper. 

She sat in the dog room with the calf for a long time, despite the stifling heat we were blasting in there.  She did the moment by moment watching and assessing and fought the good fight to get some colostrum into that calf.   

For the longest time it made no difference.  Her breathing was labored and she seemed to be in pain.  And then, things got better, the breathing relaxed, she started trying to stand up (not easy on linoleum).  What happened?  We don’t know.    Morgan and Russ came in and it was decided it was time for Krakow to take over. Morgan put her on his shoulders and carried her out to the barn and set her in a pen.  He sent this picture of her standing waiting for the arrival of her Mom, who Russ had in the back of the trailer at this point.

 I say, “who Russ had in the back of the trailer” rather nonchalantly, that would have been a bit of a feat, in this video he is dealing with Krakow at the point where he was taking her calf from her.  He starts the video with the  statement, “this is a game we like to play called, ‘Don’t get killed.’”

Once Jill’s patient was discharged to the barn she came into the kitchen and as she held up her hands for this picture she said “healed with the power of friendship!” 

Although I was in the middle of assessing how to do a huge batch of scalloped potatoes my brain just about exploded.  This was some of the most profound stuff that had stirred my spirit in a while.  I do believe it is entirely possible that Jill reinforced that calf’s will to live by her constant presence, by her solidarity in suffering, by her friendship.  I had said to her, “Jill you don’t need to stay in here, it’s so hot.”  She replied, “its okay, its not that bad.”  I can’t help but think that calf benefited from her constant presence and left here with a future.  It had not looked likely for a long while.

In retrospect, I think the calf had a gas or bowel issue, it moved its legs like a gassy baby does, it pooped in the dog room, none of our other in house calves have done that, it pooped during its departure, smearing my door frame with it.  I had to suspend lunch preparations for a clean up because we couldn’t close the door without making the mess worse.  It was a morning of bouncing from one thing to the next.  The end result was I washed my hands a lot and lunch was a bit late but pretty darn tasty.   We were celebrating Easter and the sun was brilliantly shining. 

We had two noteable births in the last day, our cow named Gina had her calf and our cow named Ray birthed. Also in the last 24 hours we have lost two calves, both due to the cold and snow. We were not in the right space and time to avoid these losses. Considering how bad the last week has been, weather wise, we are feeling fortunate so far.

I have such a longing for Kiev the calf to survive and thrive.  Her apparent resilience and her responsiveness to Jill’s solidarity remind of the real life Kiev. The story of the entire Ukraine is an amazing one.   Jill was not comfortable, she was marked by the struggle (that was some nasty stuff on her hands), she wasn’t happy while she was doing it, not really, but the power of all that was good and right in the room had a chance to speak and there was healing and a future that came from it.  I pray this same story can unfold for Kiev and Ukraine, for all, anywhere, who are weighed down by forces of death, despair and hatred.   I pray for love to flow.

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