I was at Vinnies on Friday morning when I got a phonecall from the husband. He wanted to know if there was anything down there that would be suitable to feed a calf. A calf? says I. Yes a calf says he. I tell him to look in the bottom drawer, lefthand side, back corner. That is where I keep a teat suitable for lambs or calves. Because that is how prepared I am. So say I anyway. In reality I cleaned this drawer out sometime last year and found this teat and ummed and ahhed about keeping it. We had had it for a few years and hadn't used it in that time but it had been used quite a few years back. I though that it might be used again some time in the next few years and it was better to keep it *just in case* even if it was never used again. But I win! It was needed and used again...
Why did he need something to feed a calf with? We have cows and sometimes they have unexpected calves but they always feed them themselves. This calf...Poor little baby calf (ha, I said it!) was found by husband under a tree, by itself but with our cows mooing near it. It didn't belong to any of our cows. It belonged...? Where? Where was it's mumma.
Husband was driving home with a super from a neighbours beehive on the back of his ute when he first saw this calf but he had to bring the super home and unload before going back to the calf. It was a real hot day, he had no idea where the cow was. He looked around and across the railway line where sometimes cows are but there weren't any there. So he brought it home, gave it a bottle of milk, with the teat that I had kept!! and put it in a small chookpen. When I get home daughter T is there with the calf out on the grass. The poor little thing is weak, can hardly stand but we figure it is less than a week old and maybe weak from no food and the heat. We go into town to talk with the vet and buy some more full-cream powdered milk.
The calf has cloudy eyes and we asked the vet about that but without seeing it he couldn't say if it was bad or not and said to give it a few days to see if it clears. In the meantime the poor little thing doesn't seem to see too well. We feed it another bottle of milk but this time with a raw egg in as I had read somewhere that that is good to prevent scours. Throughout the day we feed it a few more times but it still seems weak and has trouble walking and I wasn't expecting it to still be alive in the morning. T feeds it around 6PM before she leaves and we bed it down on some hay. I go in to see if it wants more milk just before I go to bed at 10 but it wont wake up so I leave it in peace. The next morning I figure I should feed it before I have my coffee and when I go out at 5.30am it is standing up and has moved away from it's hay bed. It looks good. During the morning I ring the ranger again and she says that someone has reported a missing calf. A newborn! Bleedin' hell, that's not good. She rings him, he rings me but I miss the call, I ring him but have to leave a message. I tell him where we are and not too long afterwards 2 guys show up. They say the mother is old but the baby did get a first feed and she was missing it. He says the cow and calf were in the paddock across from us over the railway line but there were no cows in that paddock. We looked. And looked again.
They took the calf away, back to it's old mum, Saturday morning. On Sunday one of the guys comes back here and says that the cloudy eyes is cataracts and the calf is blind. The mother is old and wont eat so they are supplement feeding the calf. He doesn't think that the mother will be able to look after the calf. Did we want to? Did we want to hand feed this blind calf for 6 months then give it back to them so they could send it off to slaughter? He says he will give us a week to think about it. Do we want to do that? No, no we don't. I cried.
They had no idea, we have no idea, how this blind newborn calf managed to get away from it's mother, through a fence, up an incline and over a railway line, over a road and through a small mesh fence into our paddock. But it seems it did. I have no idea why they wouldn't call in to houses in the area as soon as they noticed the calf missing and the mother cow fretting but it seems they didn't.