Thankfully, Katika’s intestinal distress is gone. I have no idea what caused it. I kept remembering David, my vet, saying last spring when Birch colicked that sometimes old horses colic “for no reason” when the weather changes. This sounded fishy to me then and still seems unlikely — there must be a reason, logic insists — but perhaps it’s the same for old cows. Our weather certainly has been changeable recently. Yesterday it was 14° F and the ground was corrugated iron, the muddy ridges in the driveway frozen into place like sculpted waves. Today and tomorrow it is due to be in the high 40s and 50s with heavy rain.
Last night at evening chores when I let all the animals into the barn I noticed as Katika swung past me that her udder was flat and empty. What? I turned to look at Rocky, her six-month-old steer calf. Had he broken his weaning ring? No, there it was in his nose. He had his face in his dinner hay and looked up at me mildly, chewing.
I got my clue when little Duke galloped up and down the barn aisle, kicking happily, instead of hurrying immediately to Katika for dinner when her stanchion was locked. He was not ravenous, as foster calves always are when mealtime finally arrives. In fact Duke had no interest in dinner at all. He cavorted and caracoled, only pausing to “kill” a hay bale, bashing it with his tiny head and falling to his knees to finish it off. Take that, dastardly bale!
My goodness! Obviously Katika must be allowing Duke to nurse in the barn paddock. What a change! I had noticed that she was softening but never, ever has she allowed a foster calf to suckle unless she was firmly held in her stanchion. I can’t quite understand what has brought about her new attitude. It’s certainly not deep affection. She will still toss Duke out of her way impatiently if he’s underfoot.
Perhaps kicking him off her bag all day long is just too much trouble for an old dame.