The anticipation of Katika’s calving, the worry, and the broken nights are wearing me down.
Yesterday I managed to lose both my cell phone and my camera. I always carry them. The weather was cold and wet so I was wearing two pairs of coveralls, and my guess is that the camera and phone fell out of my pockets unnoticed while I was working in the rain somewhere on the combined thirty acres belonging to me and to Betty. I’ve looked everywhere with no luck. I hate losing things.
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Still no birthing action from Katika. I keep thinking, “This is it!” and it never is. Last night at 10 PM her ears were icy. In fright I gave her a tube of CMPK to ward off milk fever. This morning her ears are warm but — no calf. I have only one tube left and the store to buy more is an hour away. I hope I haven’t made a bad mistake.
It has been less than a week but feels like forever that I’ve been staring at Katika’s black sides, counting out her breathing. I’ve been up in the night so many times I have stopped climbing all the way into my coveralls and just slip my arms in, leaving the legs to fall behind me like the tails of a frock coat. I started to laugh at midnight, driving to yet another cow check, thinking of being stopped by police: GROUCHO MARX IMPERSONATOR ARRESTED IN PAJAMAS.
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My heifer Moxie was in heat yesterday. I had been so sure she was already pregnant that I hadn’t even bothered to separate her from my teenaged bull, Duke. They cavorted romantically all day long. I checked my gestation calendar and if Moxie was bred successfully this time, she will be due April 10, safely after we return from Florida. So that’s one worry off my plate.
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Yesterday I found one of my Cornish Rock chickens dead. It had been fine only an hour before. The meat birds are six weeks old — almost at the end of their unnatural lifespan — and I’m sure it died of a heart attack. Cornish Rocks are so fragile it is eerie. Knowing this, and hoping to raise 25 to maturity, I had bought 35. Three died within hours of bringing them home. Now I’m down to 27.
This bird was plump and still warm. My brain was a little sluggish but it seemed a waste to put it out for the coyotes. I brought it home, plucked it, gutted it, and popped it in a stew pot. I’m sure it is fine — and if I were marching with Rogers’ Rangers in the French and Indian War, I’d be thrilled to have it — but because it didn’t bleed out, the flesh is dark. I am boiling it for stock and will feed the meat to the dogs. They watched me eagerly as I gutted it yesterday and have already snapped up the heart and kidneys.
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In the midst of the tiredness, there are still delights. I’d told Allen that I’d spotted a mallard and her ducklings on his new pond, which was exciting enough. But last evening at dusk I saw the birds again and got out my binoculars. It is not a mallard hen, but a hooded merganser, with six chicks.
(The above is not “my” hooded merganser — no camera — but looks just like it.) I was thrilled.
Hooded mergansers nest in hollow tree trunks, like wood ducks. They are diving ducks that eat small fish. I’m guessing this mama is feeding her babies my tadpoles. Having a hooded merganser raising a family at Fairhope Farm makes me happy.
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DH leaves at 4 AM tomorrow for a week. I believe this will be the first time I have been alone without children for more than 24 hours since before Lucy was born. I will have to buy another $19 Tracfone today.