My heifer Dorrie and the unweaned calves were out and prancing through the snow near the cabin when I got to the farm yesterday afternoon. Arrrgh!
I had (cross my fingers) figured out what was shorting the barn electrical system. After replacing almost every piece of lead cord, I happened to notice that the heat tape on the water hydrant had popped free of the top of its tape and six inches was hanging loose. On inspection I found toothmarks puncturing the casing, exposing the copper wire to the elements.
Dorrie! She is sixteen months old and the mouthiest calf I’ve ever raised. Clearly, somehow she managed to lean over the trough, suck the end of the tape into her mouth, and teeth on it. Of course I am grateful that she didn’t electrocute herself, chewing on an electric wire. However I’m also aggravated by the destruction of a $40 tape … as well as dumbfounded that Dorrie could be the daughter of my perfect cow, Katika. I try to remember Katika’s heifer days. Surely she must have had moments of naughtiness. But I don’t recall a single one.
Meanwhile, ever since I removed the heat tape Wednesday night, the electrical system has not failed. The calves were out yesterday due to a different problem. For some reason, though the energizer on the wall is pulsing, there is no charge in the fence. Zero. The electric lines are dead strings and the calves are simply pushing through them.
This morning I plan to do chores in the dark so that the minute the sun is up I can be poring over the fence, inch by inch, to find the problem. The only other option is to keep all the livestock in the barn today. I can’t have calves on the highway.
Just when I think I might be gaining on my list, the list gets longer.
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For the past two days Lucy’s little dog Toby has had a mysterious digestive ailment which has required multiple trips outside on a leash in the middle of the night. Last night I was just crawling back under the covers after one of these trips when he returned to my bedside, whining piteously, making it clear that his misery was so terrible that only having my company in Lucy’s bed (Lucy is away at school) would soothe him. I staggered into Lucy’s room and he spent the rest of the night curled in the small of my back, sleeping much more soundly than I did.