Yesterday morning Lucy and I took Kate to the bus stop in town. It was snowing hard and I was nervous driving DH’s little Ford Focus. After years of driving pickups, when I am behind the wheel of a sub-compact in icy conditions I feel as if I’m piloting a Diet Coke can down the road. At the bus stop, Kate bought her ticket. We waited an hour. Finally I decided that if the Trailways bus was running that late in the storm, I didn’t want Kate on it. The girls were clutching each other and cheering when I pulled out to take us all home. We will try again after church in the valley today. At least in the valley the bus stop is at a diner, so we can be warm and fed if we have to wait.
Yesterday’s big task was to get the gauze pads off my heifer Moxie’s sinuses at evening chores. I’d tried for two days, with no success. David had cut the pads to exactly the size of the holes. The edges of the gauze had been pasted down by blood. More blood had slowly seeped to soak the material and then dried until now the gauze was invisible. She looked as if she had black scabs on each side of her poll. But they were not scabs, they were cotton gauze and had to come off before the pads themselves started an anaerobic infection by cutting off air.
I had mentioned the problem to David when we picked up the kittens. I told him I thought I’d have to soak the gauze in warm water to soften the dried blood, and probably use needle-nose pliers. I didn’t have to point out that this was certainly not the simple procedure he’d outlined.
He frowned. “You might need a little warm water.”
I was sure he was wrong and I was dreading it. Moxie’s poll was no longer anesthetized and was clearly sore to the touch. I was going to have to soak her head in warm water and rip off 2″x3″ pads of gauze that had essentially grown into the wounds. I can’t stand to see anything in pain. A big part of me wanted to demand that David come back to deal with the problem. However, that would be expensive and I am not a baby. Nonsense. You can do it. Pretend you’re a Civil War nurse. You must get the shirt off that dried shoulder wound!
I filled a gallon Thermos with boiling water and packed a small medical kit. Pliers, washcloth for soaking, antibiotic cream, fresh gauze, and First Aid tape in case I had to cover her poll again.
At the farm the girls played with the kittens in the truck while I brought all the animals in and fed and watered them. Then I tapped on the truck window and the girls brought the kittens back to romp in the tack room while I dealt with Moxie.
It was just as horrible as I anticipated. Moxie flinched when I touched her poll with the warm wet washcloth, jerking her head to the end of the lead rope. I snubbed her close to the post. When I even tried to find an edge of the gauze with the pliers, her eyes rolled until I could see the whites. Her head was twisted almost upside down to get away. I decided I had to soak each side of her poll for at least ten minutes. Moxie stood, trembling but less afraid, as I simply poured hot water on the washcloth and held it in place near her left ear. Finally one tiny, very tiny edge of the blackened gauze came unpasted.
I gulped. I took the needle-nose pliers and in one motion grabbed that tiny edge and yanked off the gauze.
Moxie’s eyes rolled up in her head and she crashed to the floor. Her head was still tied high and I pulled the emergency loop with stiff, trembling fingers to release her so she could get her feet under herself again. She had a bright bloody 2″x 3″ strip where the scabbed-over gauze had ripped away. She was terrified. And now I had to do it all again for the other side! Poor little girl. I helped her to her feet.
Twenty minutes later I was finished. Moxie’s poll was oozing blood on both sides but the gauze was safely off. I had used the entire gallon of hot water for compresses. I decided not to re-cover the wounds at this time but to leave them open to the night air. It was 20° and I wanted the blood to clot freely before it froze.
Moxie was (understandably) so head-shy at this point that I could not dry her wet ears and cheeks. Poor little girl. However, the moment I untied her she put her head down and began to eat her hay.
As I packed up my tools I told myself that I would definitely recommend to David that he use a different method of bandaging after de-horning. Even my inexpert duct tape over gauze would be far easier and much less painful to remove. I called to the girls that we were ready to go. I snapped off the barn lights. We piled into the truck.
Oh dear. In the truck I discovered that an hour earlier, Kate had turned the key to switch on the radio (and incidentally the lights and heater fan) for entertainment while they were playing with the kittens. Kate does not know how to drive. She thought it would all turn itself off automatically when they left the truck. Oops. After an hour left at full blast in the deep cold, the truck battery was dead as a doornail.
“Since I don’t know how to drive, and I thought the truck might roll, and I didn’t know where the emergency brake was, I didn’t want to turn on the engine,” Kate explained ingenuously.
I’ve known Kate since she was a very small girl. It is impossible to get angry with her because she never means to cause a problem. She is always loving, always surprised and contrite.
“Kathryn, dear, if you don’t know how to drive why would you ever think it was OK to get in someone else’s vehicle and touch the ignition key at all?”
“Well, that is a good point,” agreed poor Kate, nodding.
Luckily I had my cell phone in my pocket and luckily Mike was at home. Mike is my friend who has rescued me from a million disasters. I explained the situation and he kindly told me he’d be out in half an hour to give us a jump start.
The girls and I sat in the dark and cold to wait, slowly congealing. Lucy’s feet had been numb before we got in the truck. I felt such a let-down after the adrenalin of dealing with Moxie that I was almost in a stupor. The minutes ticked by.
Kate observed cheerfully, “This is real Kate C. moment, isn’t it?”