Today has been an exhausting day, more mentally than physically. This morning, our neighbor came by at 9:00 to help lift Lucy and by 10:00 she was down again, and it was totally our fault. We were walking her around the paddock to exercise her a little bit and because she isn’t totally halter broken, I had one of the kids standing behind her, switching her bottom every now and then when she’d stop. At one point, we switched too hard and she got startled and tried to speed up and just collapsed. I was sick about it because the last thing I want to do is ask my neighbor to come over three times in a day to lift our cow, but if we picked her up after a two hour rest as usual, we’d be getting her up at 12 and according to her usual pattern she’d be back down again by 3 or 4. That would either mean we’d need to get her up again at 6, or leave her down until 8:00 tomorrow. Not a good situation, either way. I ended up calling my neighbor a little later than I normally would have, and he came over at 1:30 to get her up.
As of right now (8:00) she is still standing.
When we got her up, we moved her to another part of the pasture (where the goats normally reside) and gave her access to grass the goats hadn’t eaten. We let her eat for two hours before bringing her back down to the area we wanted her in for the night, and I spent the next three hours outside with her, essentially willing her to keep standing. I walked her around as much as I felt comfortable to, pet on her every time she stopped walking in hopes it would keep her from laying down, and then sat in the field with her, watching as she ate hay. Sitting there in the freezing cold with her felt like a prayer. I wasn’t saying anything at all, but I didn’t need to. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus comes back from prayer and finds his disciples sleeping and asks them: “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” I was keeping watch.
Eventually, I had to come in to help the kids with dinner and get them into bed (my kids have been A-MA-ZING through all of this, helping me with everything we’ve needed to do with Lucy, and more besides) and walked into a sparkling clean living room… the older girls had already fed everyone dinner and decided to surprise me by cleaning the house. I was speechless and so incredibly thankful.
I spoke with the vet today and he says that if we can continue doing what we’ve been doing, Lucy stands a very good chance of making it. He says that the fact that she’s been able to stand and walk around after we lift her is an incredibly good sign – that most of the time, down cows just dangle there and don’t have the will to try. He says he sees it a lot in dairy cows… they call it “Holsteinitis” and I can’t help but wonder how much of their lack of will comes from their often deplorable living conditions. Perhaps Lucy knows we love her.
In any case, I’m feeling very hopeful and very thankful. Like so many things around the farm, this has been a wonderful, heartbreaking, beautiful experience that I’m incredibly thankful for – however it turns out.