I probably should have titled this post "The Case of the Peculiar Egg Placement", but then, that would sound like a Nancy Drew mystery, and that would have dated myself for sure! This has been a season of busy, and I've got so many topics I want to write about and little time to do the big topics justice. So, in the form of constructive procrastination, I've got to share a little farm hilarity.
A bit of backstory: After a summer of drought, Mother Nature has seen fit to gift us with the wettest October on record. At last count, our area has gone from drought to 8 inches over the yearly average in a short 31 days. This has created all sorts of excess water issues on the farm. (Wherever there's water and animals, there will be copious amounts of mud). Case and point: Last week, our internet guy came to fix our unstable internet situation. Turns out, even a colony of fire ants had moved to higher ground (our roof), and had moved their entire nest (dirt and all) to the radio receiver box.
Because of all the rain, we have mucked our little hearts out daily. Last week, I noticed an interesting thing in all my mucking of stalls and turnouts. Eggs kept appearing in a very peculiar location....right out in the middle of the turnout... in front of God and everybody. Now, chickens tend to like a little privacy when they lay, so the location is odd indeed. When something out of the ordinary occurs, curiosity drives me to figure it out... and this little mystery was bugging the heck out of me! These eggs.... I gave them 3 options:
To add to the mystery, each day, there was an additional new egg.... so bizarre! Yesterday, while we were outside doing chores, I happened to be in just the right location at just the right angle to look up and solve the mystery. Drishti! (That's this particular hen's name). She has found, perhaps, one of the most dangerous places to nest. Even worse.... it appears she is broody, and intent on sitting on her eggs til they hatch... well, the eggs that haven't yet rolled off the roof! We're gonna have to figure out how to move her and the remaining eggs to a safer location. I have never had a chicken who wanted to lay eggs in such an elevated place. Typically, they are ground layers.
Ants on the roof..... eggs in the gutters. You know it's been a rainy season when everyone, and everything is moving to higher ground!
Welcome! You've found my first official blog post on the updated website! This has been a work in progress for the past several months, and.... not being exactly technically savvy (give me science or farming any other day!), I've had to call in some excellent tech help to assist in the upgrade. You can finally find ALL you need right here in one place!
The move to the new website put blogging on a little hiatus until we could get everything matched up properly. I think you'll find this venue MUCH easier to navigate. Growing means learning, expanding, and exploring new options, right?
Speaking of growing.... She's now 10 months old, and it's well past time for an Elsa update! Sweet girl shows up on Facebook with some regularity, but I need to update here.... this is kind of her 'baby book' after all. For all my love of animals, I never thought I'd love a cow as much as I love this heifer. I guess that's what might happen when one lives in your bathtub for a few weeks, and syringe feeding around the clock takes control of your life! The cards were certainly stacked against her. Birth during 20 degree weather (which cost her parts of both ears), failure to thrive (because she couldn't suck properly), trips to the vet (because we didn't know any better.. couldn't see the internal cleft palate... and subsequently also missed by the vet).... it did not look good for Elsa. If you scroll back thru my early 2018 posts, you'll find her history scattered throughout.
Nonetheless, she prevailed.
Her story hasn't been without a little work and some modifications in her/our life. Elsa is a permanent mascot on our farm. She is a greeter, social maven, photo bomber, and so much more. As she's grown, we've adapted and risen to the challenge.
Her cleft palate is not easily repairable. According to a couple of vets I've consulted at Texas A&M Veterinary College, the surgery would not be easy on her. Cow mouths do not open very wide, and any repair of this nature would only be manageable by entering thru the side of her face...effectively eliminating the possibility of surgery unless absolutely necessary.
Elsa eats well (albeit messily!), and does not seem to be hindered much by her birth defect. Fairly early on, we discovered that she is also moderately tongue tied, and is only able to stick her tongue out of the right side of her mouth. This really doesn't seem to affect her much, so I'm torn between getting it fixed surgically (rather, putting her thru that surgery), and just letting her carry on as she has been. She doesn't know any differently, and so it seems more like the surgery would be for us moreso than for her.
Cleft palates in calves are not as rare as you'd think. Unfortunately, most calves are birthed fairly unattended, and if they go without nursing for long, they die. As in the case of Elsa, if the cleft palate is undetectable externally, the rancher usually assumes the calf simply died of natural causes. Cleft palate in calves is not a genetic anomaly...it's caused by eating the wrong plant during the first trimester of pregnancy (a similar thing can happen in people if certain medications or products are consumed during the first trimester too). In Honey's case (Elsa's mama)..... she apparently got ahold of a select few plants in the lupine family..... the most common culprit for bovine cleft palates. Honestly, we're blessed. Her deformity could have been much much worse, and her personality more than makes up for the bit of added work that is required for her health and safety.
Just like all babies, Elsa has had her milestones.
Lessons from raising a Cleft Palate Calf
Stay tuned.... Elsa will always be making an appearance here. She's one of us..... part of the 'farmily'.
Thanks for visiting and celebrating our imperfectly perfect life on the farm.
Hugs and Love - Liz
Hey there....thanks for stopping by! This is me (Liz James)... an eclectic mixture of holistic (and organic) farmgirl meets pharmacist. It's a synergy that works well as I speak truths and dissect fact from fiction. If you're looking for healthier living options, you've come to the right place!