On Saturday afternoon, we were literally walking out the door to attend a wedding in Lawrence when the phone rang. It was the neighbor who owned the pasture. Trooper appeared to be sick. He was lying flat on the ground and hadn't moved from that spot for several hours. Sweet Pea would nudge him, but he wouldn't get up.
Bill grabbed farm clothes and drove his pickup to the pasture. I followed in the car. If Trooper wasn't sick, we would leave the pickup and go on to the wedding. But he was sick with scours, a severe form of diarrhea, and too weak to get up. We returned home, Bill changed his clothes and, grabbing his hypodermic syringe and medicine, returned to the pasture. This emergency caught him without any electrolyte supplement so we would stop at a farm store in Lawrence to resupply.
We missed the wedding but arrived in time for the reception. The groom worked for a large cattle operation and also owned his own small herd, so he understood and sympathized with the reason for our tardiness.
The next morning, Bill mixed up the electrolyte mixture in the calf bottle and took it to the pasture. Trooper was too weak to suck, so Bill used the feeding tube he'd thought to take with him. He returned later and tube fed more electrolyte mixture.
On Monday, Trooper showed no sign of improvement so Bill hauled both him and Sweet Pea home. He thought the scours might be caused by the richness of the cow’s milk upsetting the calf’s digestive system. Prior to the adoption, we fed him the less rich milk replacer for several days. Bill separated the pair, penning Trooper in the barn and putting Sweet Pea just outside in a corral pen so they could at least see each other. This arrangement was not acceptable to her and she displayed her annoyance by bawling and pawing up the ground.
On the advice of a veterinarian, Bill tried a different medicine on Trooper, continued the electrolyte solution and resumed feeding him a little milk replacer. He began to show improvement and, by the next day, was up skipping around the pen and bawling for his new mother. Bill removed the barrier panel between the two pens and reunited the pair. We were relieved we’d apparently survived another crisis and happy for our pet, Sweet Pea—she would have a calf to mother.
Late the next afternoon, Trooper relapsed. Medicine, electrolytes and milk replacer couldn’t bring him out of it this time. He died a couple of days later. We were crushed. Bill had never lost a battle with calf scours. I felt sad for Sweet Pea, losing two calves in the span of a week. Maybe their brains don’t process the information in just that way. I hope not, for her sake, but my brain does and I grieved for both of us.
June's Note: Regrettably, we have no pictures of Trooper.