Ups and Downs

As with anything in life, living on a small farm has its ups and downs. There are plenty of positives, but I don’t ever want to give the impression that everything is always hunky-dory and that nothing bad ever happens. Afterall, this isn’t a Facebook page.

Sienna chews her cud on a sunny April day on the farm.

For example, a couple weeks ago, I noticed that my family milk cow, Sienna, was favoring one of her feet. When I looked closer, I could see why. She had a nasty crack up one side of her right, front hoof. I had noticed the crack before, but it had gotten worse and was obviously bothering her. Big sigh here. Time to go to the vet.

I hate it when I have to take animals to the vet. I guarantee you ― they hate it, too. Even if it’s something easy like a pregnancy check, trust me, the cow doesn’t enjoy it. Ever seen a cow checked? (It’s called palpated.) Let’s just say it isn’t as easy a peeing on a stick, and it involves the vet’s arm going WAY in there.

Anyhow, my husband and I brought Sienna to our vet, and the vet decided he’d better trim Sienna’s hoof. I had never seen a cow’s hooves trimmed before, and I was fascinated at how it’s done. So much so, I’m putting it in my blog. I have to apologize here though, because I didn’t think about taking a photo of the process until it was too late. Trimming a horse’s hooves, as long as it’s a broke horse, is very easy and not interesting. But, apparently trimming a cow’s hooves involves this crazy-looking machine that actually puts the cow sideways. I’ll try to give you a picture of this:

Picture a large hydraulic contraption with two metal sides. The cow goes in between these two sides, a strap goes under it, and then it’s tilted enough to chain up the front legs and then the back legs. Then, as it’s sandwiched between the two sides, the cow goes from vertical to horizontal, actually being lifted off the ground.

My poor Sienna. She did very well with all this and laid very still, probably freaked out at how she was airborne or how loud the grinder was that the vet used to file down her hoof. I don’t know. But, thankfully, she didn’t fight the machine. After using several tools to open up the crack and trim the hoof. The vet wrapped Sienna’s hoof in several layers. He told us to cut off the wrapping in a week. Unfortunately, he also said that once a hoof cracks like hers, it will never fully heal and has to be routinely trimmed. My hope is that the crack doesn’t get bad enough to make Sienna lame.

You can see the crack in Sienna’s hoof. This is after we took the wrap off.

A week later, Scott cut the bandage off while Sienna munched on feed in her stanchion. Much less of a process than getting it on. She seems to be doing better and walking around fine.

Rain water can be quite destructive.

Around the same time as Sienna’s drama, we had two bouts of nasty storms. We had a large pine tree fall during the first storm. This wouldn’t be so bad except that it took five sections of fence out with it. Scott had to mend the fence the next day, so we didn’t have cows visiting the neighbors. The second storm took out a section of our driveway because of the large amount of water and debris that rushed across the gravel. The photo doesn’t do it justice. It looked sort of like a sinkhole.

Here’s the tree that fell during one of the recent storms. This was taken after the barbed-wire fence was repaired.

Also weather-related, was our early April freeze that, of course, came unexpectedly and right after I got all my garden plants in the ground. I think the bell pepper plants will make it, but the frost killed my two basil plants. And my hot pepper plants don’t look too hot. They are hanging by a thread. It’s funny, because basil and hot pepper plants usually do very well in our area. They like the hot climate, but they can’t take the cold. I wish I had checked the weather and covered my plants.

In summary, farming can be tough. There’s always the possibility of things going wrong, animals getting sick or dying, and difficult weather. In East Texas, we have two seasons: Flood or drought.

I will usually try and focus on my positive experiences, but I don’t want to leave out all of the negatives. That wouldn’t be an accurate picture of life on a small farm. Nope. It’s sort of a roller coaster ride. Hang on tight, and try not to scream! Come to think of it, that’s probably what I should have told Sienna when she rode that contraption at the vet clinic.

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