Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zeus....Marchigiana Bull...trip to the Vet..ummm he really didnt like it

This is Zeus...2200 pounds of pure muscle...as you can see in the cattle chute (that really wouldnt hold him if he put up a big enough fight) he is ONE BIG BULL! he is a Marchigiana Bull...when he was born Norm carried him tot he barn with his momma at his elbow, I think he had gotten chilled out or something or another. Hard to believe that now looking at him that a little calf would one day become THIS big isnt it? To show just how big he is I posted some pictures here a little later in this post...
Well today was the big day for the 3 bulls we have...we had 5 last year and sold 2 because of the annual "Spring" trip to the Vet. One we sold because he was throwing too many white calves (the feeder lots want black steers) and the other...well lets just say "Frank" (named after Frank Sinatra for the way he *sang* to me un-relentlessly* when he saw me) had too few weak swimmers. Yep...time to semen test the boys! Sir Loin and T-Bone went first thing this morning and I took Norms mom to her doctor appointment so he saved my favorite bull - Zeus for last so I could go. I love to go cause I LOVE to see him in the chute! HE IS HUGE! You just dont realize how big he is until you see him in there, you know how big a cow is and you see them in there and then you see him and the chute looks like its a miniature sized one!
First stop was Zeus' favorite place! I needed some Sweet Tea and something in my belly since it was after noon and it was the closest thing and the easiest to park a big long cattle trailer...I think tho, Zeus knew where we were, and while Norm was in getting our food, he was shaking his head and rocking the trailer....this was the first sign of how it was to go!
Yep! Notice the Angus burger sign! HA! Okay I had to take a picture!
Zeus didnt find my humor funny as we were waiting for Doctor Mike and I sipped my Sweet Tea from my MC DONALD'S cup...look at those eyes staring me down...maybe he was just thirsty? He is handsome tho' isnt he? Okay so when Norm swung the trailer door opened Zeus was shaking his head up and down...hmmm...sign of aggravation..not so good ya know!..I saw that and wondered about it, I've never seen him do that nor any of our bulls, so I was kinda thinking it might not be a good thing. I was locked in the little stall I go in tho when we work the cattle with my camera, but with a 2200 pound animal you just dont feel safe. I have my wall already planned out that I'll climb if needed..yes there is rafters I'll hang from if I need too!!!! I can be a monkey for as long as it takes! I've seen Zeus jump a 6 foot high guard rail fence before so I know what he can do. I never knew how agile they were! He sniffed a bit unsure of coming off that trailer, but he did and walked right into the chute. Norm said it took several minutes to get the other two off the trailer. They had some poorly horses in there before them and the bulls just didnt like the smell of it all. Maybe sickness, medicines, blood? Who knows. Blood for cattle to smell is a BAD thing....it will put them immediately into fight or flight mode....
So Zeus walks on into the chute like a good boy tho and they put the butt bar in and a halter on with no trouble so looks like all is gonna be okie dokie from here! Never thrashed his head, just laid down! I do believe that he remembers this part of the visit! NOT so pleasant shall I say!!! So what happens when a bull is semen tested is this device that looks like a torpedo about the size of your forearm is inserted into him (I'm not naming the body part so as not to get perverts searching up stuff and bringing up my site!). its connected to a device that sends an electrical current into the "torpedo" (I forgot the name of it actually) that makes his muscles go ridged. The strength of the electricity is slowly increased until he releases enough specimen for the doc to test. Ours usually stand good for this procedure...I'm curious if any of you with cattle that have this done have the opposite reaction and have a fight with your animals?
So this is the device that is inserted that carries the electrical current into the bull. Nope it doesnt hurt them AT ALL. It just makes all the muscles in their body contract.
So to show you JUST how big Zeus is... how about a couple pictures of him beside Norm! Norm wanted to take some pictures of me with Zeus, but I was wearing Capri's with my boots, and a ball cap, no make up and looked horrendous...so..nope maybe next time I'll dress up for the occasion!
Notice that Zeus' head takes up half the length of the chute as it is!
Here Norm is checking out his ears....this picture gives you a much better appreciation for his size!
Well here he is right before the trouble "almost" happened! Doctor Mike lets him out of the chute and Zeus casually walks out into this little bitty lot and Mike goes to turn him around and bring him back through to Norm to get onto the trailer, when as Mike comes up to his side, Zeus in the small lot is crowded (uhhhhh.....)and Zeus turns puts his head down at Mike...but before he could charge him Mike has hopped over the 9 foot (+ or so) guard rail fence leaving Zeus looking confused - as if thinking "hey wait! Where did that guy go that I was gonna turn to mush!". Let me say this, Zeus has NEVER, repeat NEVER EVER EVER done anything like that ever before. Not once. Not there and he's been there done that before same situation. But something was different this time and something bothered him....all I heard from my vantage point was shuffling....Norm yell Are you Ok Mike...and saw Zeus saunter back in the barn and walk through the walk way and Norm get him onto the trailer....Doc Mike acted like it was no big deal, has told Norm in his younger days he LOVED those crazy cows that would put you over a fence just for the fun of it. Well I guess all that jumping over that fence paid off cause he did it in lightening speed today!I was concerned the whole way home about what Zeus would do when we got home...I told Norm if he did anything to him, he was just mud or grass cause I wasnt able to help him out besides calling 9-1-1! He said once he got him home and he saw where he was Zeus wouldnt care about anything anyway and would be fine, that he really wasnt agitated, it was just conditions that contributed to it that added up. He said if Zeus was going to be a problem the trailer would be rocking...and even so once he saw the girls he mind would immediately go into love mode and forget he was angry. I did however ask TONS of questions about how to tell if a bull was mad, angry, bluffing, gonna kill ya, etc. I'll do a post on that another day, and those things are good to know and I should have asked it before I guess! And Norm was right, as usual, he does know his cows, each one of them and how each one of his cows will act. Norm walked Zeus the length of the field into the pasture with the ladies and Zeus never once cared or looked back in any way other than to say "am I going the right way Norm?, is this the way to my girls?" "Which way are they at? Which way are they at?"
And finally...surrounded by all his "ladies" he is one happy fella at last!
We are doing pasture rotation this year, and have split the cows up as well into 4 bunches. The 1st time heifers are always separate with a small young bull for their first time. The heifers that have been bred for the first time to calve go behind the house into the lake pasture for us to keep an eye on for trouble if it occurs since it is usually the first time that a cow has problems. After the first year of two of calving we move them to one of two pastures...we used to have the older cows all together with 2 bulls on them, but not this year. We will switch out bulls off and on and trade them between the cows. After awhile the bull sometimes becomes complacent and doesnt breed as eagerly and we want to make sure that doesnt happen. So after testing all three bulls - the census is...all three get to stick around another year! Even Zeus with his bad attitude today. I'm concerned about him now, he's NEVER shown anything like that before, but those with bulls KNOW NEVER trust a bull, even one as laid back as Zeus is. lots of factors were involved...a Vet with so many smells on him, medicines, probably had surgeries that day and possible blood on his hands that didnt get washed off (THAT will put fear in a cow and even set them fight or flight faster than ANYTHING), They had some sick horses in their earlier, and I dont know what they did to them, possible bood involved, the other bulls didnt want to get off the trailer either and they had a hard time coaxing them off - Zeus didnt like the smell of it all from the get-go and was shaking his head before the trailer door was opened, a sign of agitation something I've not seen him do AT ALL, he didnt know Doc like he knows us, small confined area, a ride in traffic and stop at the burger joint (*gasp!!!*) and of course he had a torpedo put where the sun dont shine!!!!! - Its all never bothered him before, but we dont know what an animals knows, smells, sees, or hears that scares him. And when we got him home, he sauntered off the trailer like the gentle bull he always is without a care in the world...but I'll assure you, extra eyes will be on him now and extra care will be taken when we are around him and myself or the kids WONT be anywhere near him when he is in a small lot, not that we have been before, but in the future we definitely wont be now!
Well I have to feed the barn critters...I probably should proof read this post I usually end up repeating myself when I dont so forgive me if I did or if I rambled on!
It was an interesting day to say the least! I hope this was a once in a lifetime occasion for Zeus to show his butt like that to anyone, and luckily it ended good. I know I'll be keeping MY distance from now on! JUST IN CASE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

~ Update on King~No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle. ~Winston Churchill

~*~What a Ride...~*~
The last month and half feels like a lifetime journey of emotions. The ups and downs we have experienced with King have had my emotions on a roller coaster of sorts that I've become numb and melancholy lately. Feeling mixed emotions that can range from extreme happiness to extreme sadness all at once is such a weird feeling, yet thats how its been since last Friday when we notice that King's gut was bloated. It had happened in a matter of hours, yet he was eating and drinking. His hair had begun to fall out within the last 12 hours that day, in clumps down to bare skin. For the last month when he relieved himself his stance was more like of a female dog would pee rather than a horse. He would squat down low and his urine was a dark yellow, and he was peeing often. I discussed this all with the Vet, a horseman himself Friday when I called as soon as I saw his gut was bloated and how his hair was coming out like it was - he was afraid he was having organ failure, but since there was no outward signs of pain right now, it was after hours, and he was still eating and calling to the others and wanting to be with them, not listless, we made an appointment for him to come the following Wednesday (today) to assess him, more than likely to put him down, and say our good byes, letting him go peacefully. This did give me some time to prepare for what lay ahead. I was instructed to watch him closely and if I saw any changes at all to call them and they would come right out before if needed. By the next morning the swelling had gone down and King was more active....
Waiting until today has been miserable, and I've prepared myself to let him go. I dont know if you ever prepare yourself fully to say goodbye to one of your best friends, as those of you who have an animal you love know they become. Horses for some reason, for me, seem to touch my heart in a way that no other animal has before, maybe its just King that has done that....I've done really well waiting for today to come, slept great last night, until this morning, as soon as my eyes opened I thought I was going to have an anxiety attack. I couldnt breathe...it was the first thought I had - today could be the last day with King! But I couldnt cry...and then I wondered why I havent cried all week and what was wrong with me, my heart has been broken and yet I havent shed a tear. But I realized tonight I havent LET myself cry. I think I'm afraid if I do...I'll have a hard time stopping. So I'll save it for now.
I did my feeding this morning....more like a robot going about their business...back into the house and sat down on the computer by 9am waiting for the clock to tick by to 1:00 for our apt. when Norm calls to tell me Chad (our Vet) will be here within 30 min!!!! Talk about NOT the way its supposed to go. I'm okay when its going as I prepared myself and already the apple cart is getting upset and turning over! Getting King out of the pasture was even robotic...I think I was so numb today and scared of what I would feel and what it would be like if I had to say good bye that I didnt let myself feel anything, in fact I didnt really even look at King as I led him into the fenced in area we made for him....so surreal. So not like me...
Chad arrived and the first thing he wanted to do was to take blood. He wanted to watch him pee as well, so he gave him a shot to induce him. While he waited he cleaned his sheath, which in all honesty, I dont know when or if its every been cleaned. Yeah I'm a terrible horse owner, go on and tell me. I dont know how, and never have cleaned one before. But I did learn today and found it quite interesting and I think that I'll have someone else do that for me when its time to have that done for Jack or Buck. In fact, guess Buck needs a good cleaning since he hasnt had it done, but I dont care to get kicked. King however stood like a gentleman, as usual. My good boy! For a horse that has never had his cleaned he was surprisingly in great shape. He had 3 small little beans, but nothing that would cause any discomfort at all. And Chad said "He was proud of his new shiny penny" when he was all done right before he was ready to pee....gave us a good laugh. I think he was trying to lighten the mood. Luckily Chad got to see what I was talking about, and he said it definitely was NOT normal the way he stood and the color. He pointed out also something I'd missed...the dead areas of grass and asked if that was where King had peed maybe? Well it couldnt have been anything else! He said he had to have a high amount of nitrogen in his urine for it to do that....
He wanted to take blood and didnt feel comfortable doing anything until he got some test back on his blood and urine first and told me it would take about an hour to get the results back and hed call me right away. LONGEST HOUR AND HALF (drive time) I've had to wait in a long time.
SO -what he found: No organ failure! Good news....The kidneys and liver are functioning...what we feared are in the clear......Bad News....King is severely Anemic. His body is making enough blood but he is loosing it faster than he can make it. Its pooling into his stomach and his kidneys. The cause? Well...He most definitely has a large ulcer...for his gut to be swollen like it is...(blood pooling) would cause major stomach problems and cause an ulcer. More bad news...an ulcer could just be symptomatic of something worse - cancer. Chad said he wasnt even going to send off for any tests, and I totally agree. Its as he put it "6 of 1 half dozen of the other". At his age, his health....the cost of the test for me to do what? To treat what and how? I cant cure him...There is no way of knowing if he does have cancer with out running any tests for sure, Chads suggestion for the next two weeks, is to treat him with some meds for the ulcer to see if it clears up his problems. IF he improves, and I should notice improvement right away, then I'll know that I should keep on that path. If there is no improvement, then in 7 - 10 days we will re-assess him again....and be back at ground zero.
I'm determined to not let My Boy suffer....I'm also Hell Bent on not giving up on him if he only has an ulcer....am I comfortable putting him down right now not knowing for sure? No....not yet. But what is my gut telling me? Today it is telling me its time to let him go, but I'm not sure if thats because of all the preparation I've made for this day or if its really because its time to let him go. I know when I look into his eyes he is so tired...he is so distant from himself this last month and seems gone already. Then I wonder, is that only because he feels bad, I know when I'm sick I only want to be left alone. Yesterday Mari, a special friend of ours (and Kings) and Douglas and I groomed King and they said they're goodbyes in case we let him go today. We took pictures and spent some time with him. He was distant at first, but then when we were nearing the end before I put him back with the others and I was laying on my back in the grass trying to get some funny pictures I saw the "old King" again....so I just dont know....right now I dont know what to do as far as this decision to make. When you have a life in your hands you want to do whats best. You want them to have quality and happiness...I watched him today and he was happy....so what do I do? A question I just cant answer right now....So here are some pictures of yesterday......I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed the time we spent with My Boy King....You will be able to see all the hair he is loosing (remind you he doesnt get woolly during the winter months and doesnt shed in the summer so its shocking to see the amount of hair in these pictures, even his mane is falling out, his skin is dry and flaky and you can see that in his brand) - Levi seemed to feel the somber mood too and he loves the horses anyway- and visa versa - and had to join in for some King-time....By the way...its been so crazy busy I've not had time to visit anyones blog, please dont think I dont want to catch up, and that I'm not grateful for your prayers for My Boy...rest assured I am!!!! I thank you deeply and I'll stop on over as soon as I can!

Goings on....Some sad days...

I've had some sad days the last week. Last Thursday I found my lovely Peppers body in the barn. I hadn't seen her the day before when I was down in the barn feeding, which wasnt unusual since she was laying and was good at hiding her nest from me. She didnt like when I took her eggs from her. So I assumed she had hidden her nest again and didnt worry about finding her until I didn't see her again the next day and didnt come when I called for her like she usually did. She was probably alive the day before when I didnt see her and sitting on a nest, her body was fresh, and the signs all point to a coon. I've set traps each night but so far nothing has been caught. Over the years her eggs have gone missing, but she roosts so high and has even escaped the Red Tail Hawk that has visited, the occasional stray cat, skunks and previous coons. The cows, horses, cats and dog have kept predators from the barn. Needless to say I was heartbroken. Being that she was the only bird for so long, and she didnt even know she was a chicken...she bonded with all of us. Came running when she saw us, perched on my shoulder, and nestled in my arms to go to sleep when I'd sit with a sick calf, or just relax to the smells and sounds of the horses eating their hay. Things havent been the same without her running things around the barn...our Barn Manager/Diva will be sorely missed. I've included some pictures of some goings on since I last posted and later today I'll update on King...waiting on a call that will determine my post....

The coop...oh the coop...let me explain...
Now dont think for ONE minute I'm not appreciative when I talk of my chicken "mansion". The gentleman we have building framed homes by trade...over the years something happened to where he cant seem to understand that chickens DONT NEED the luxury of such a well built, air tight, indestructible, human livable building! I mean seriously - when Douglas is old enough to live on his own I'm kicking the chickens out of this 8x12 building, putting in a twin bed, tv microwave, small fridge and window unit air conditioner and that be it! When tornado warnings go off - forget the basement, we are heading to the chicken coop! Its going NO WHERE! Think I'm kidding???? Oh - trust me I'm not! There are no mistakes, no unlevel lines, no air spaces in the frame, it fits together so tightly a piece of paper cant slide between the boards! He cant understand ITS A CHICKEN COOP! They dont care for detail and perfection! What should have been built in a week will take 3....sigh...if only it had been, Pepper would have been able to see her Bed and Breakfast, her Mansion, her Taj Mahal of all Chicken Coops. Its no ones fault of course. He hasnt worked in almost 5 yrs, and I think he is trying to prove to himself that he is still as good as he was before, and he IS...wow he is really good! I expected much less. (-: I guess if anyone needs to be in the dog house, we'll just say they need to be in the chicken house instead! Its really great and I cant wait to fix it up with little gingham curtains and window flower boxes. Not that chickens care about all that! Norm's done the light switch and ran the electrical cords for me yesterday, and they set the windows and Norm put the roof on yesterday as well. Only to find out that the metal he ordered didnt come complete...wouldnt that figure! It should be here tomorrow, then by Friday it should be done...YAY! I think they are putting the door on today! It is really looking so good, maybe they will get the metal on the sides today too? WOW then it will look finished! It will match the barn! Norm drove the posts for the yard Sunday and I got to help. It was the first time I used the post hold driver on the tractor....very cool, very easy! So here is the coop as it was last night! Day who knows what...but 2 weeks into it.....Best coop in Hardin County as far as I'm concerned! One to be quite proud of! Thanks so much Norm for all the work you have done, patience and time you took out of your work to help get this finished for me to house these silly birds. But look at it this way...they sure will taste yummy and sit good in your belly!!!!!! You ARE the best and waaaaaay too good to me!
My windows were what they thought were put in backwards..however, its NOT a mistake, they open and close from the outside..this is GOOD! That way the screen is on the inside and I will put the hardwire mesh on the inside over the screen to keep critters out and the birds from pecking at the screen.
So thats it for today....will post later today about King...I hope you'll come back...