We just experienced a storm here that is just finishing up today. Highways are closed, school is cancelled, but life carries on with our cattle.
This baby was overcome by the cold 2 nights ago when my husband found her. Her mother had given birth to her in a very windy part of the pen.
She was barely moving and already doing what we call the "death bellers," which are the last desperate calls from their cold little bodies.
Quickly my husband threw her over his shoulder and it was a race to the house. Normally we have "hot boxes" built into the sheds, that are tiny heated rooms for the calves to dry off and warm up in. But in a case like this, there is only one solution:
We run a tub of warm water and slowly bring the calf's body temperature back up. We rub their skin and get the blood pumping. The calf bellers some more as it must be painful as the feeling in their body returns.
When we placed this calf in the water, her eyes were cloudy and she was barely moving. Her nose was cold and so was the inside of her mouth.
But as she becomes immersed in the warm water, life returns to her. Her eyes begin to focus, she begins to thrash her legs.
We continue to feel her core, which is still cold to the touch.
But after about 15 minutes, this calf who was on the brink of death, is now in the realms of the living again.
Her core has warmed and her mouth no longer feels cold.
We decide that the water has revived her and that it will be safe to remove her from the tub and dry her off. Here she is in my mother's laundry room.
I remember the excitement when I was a child when my dad would come crashing into the porch with a limp calf in his arms and call out to my mother,
"we need to put this one in the tub!"
It still brings out the excitement and the adrenaline in us all, as we know that every moment is critical.
There have been some that we didn't save in time.
But within a couple of hours, we were able to return this baby to one of our hot boxes, and she joined her mother in the morning.
I am happy to say that she is also a smart baby who didn't need any help nursing.
The storm was a reminder that even an hour within those harsh elements is too much. What started out as a rain turned into a snowstorm with the wind gusting ice pellets that stung the face and hurt the eyes.
The next morning, our cows had icicles dangling from them that tinkled like wind chimes when they moved.
I am always amazed at the fine line between life and death, between making it in time to save a calf, and not.
Perhaps it is timing, perhaps it depends on the calf as well.
Maybe we are all within that fine line of living and dying.
But this calf would never have survived without water.
It was water from which she came, and it was water that brought her back.