Friday, May 6, 2016
If it all themes darkly disjointed...
And let us all hope that the professional victims and hyphenated souls find plenty of microagression in that title!
Calving season went from challenging to utterly bug-stomping insane this year. Back to back to back winter storms set the stage for some truly interesting, exhausting, and indescribably rewarding days and nights.
As of this morning we've only a dozen cows left to calve, and they'll likely deliver on a more leisurely schedule over the next 30 days. I won't be surprised, however, if they surprise me by dropping their calves this weekend, which is scheduled for -- you guessed it -- the arrival of another wintry weather system.
In a perfect... Well, strike that, in a more typical calving season, we might see a single, relatively brief, winter storm event. Springtime weather systems typically move through a lot faster, yielding about 36-48 hours of unsettled weather with 6-12 hours of frank storminess.
This year the systems have been extremely slow moving, taking 6-7 days to pass through. They've brought plenty of moisture, which is coin of the realm in this part of the country, but the immediate consequence is cold, wet calves. Cold and wet can kill, quickly through hypothermia or less quickly through illness. Cold and wet doesn't cause illness of course, but it does use up finite metabolic energy resources, leaving less energy available to fuel immune system development and response.
Energy is the key, of course, the key to life. This will be argued by most of the people who live in this part of the world but it is, nevertheless, the true state of affairs.
So over the last month I've had the opportunity to address energy management in baby calves. I've carried a lot of calves a long way through deep mud and snow, applied a lot of external energy via radiation and convection, and a lot of internal energy via stomach tube. So far I've been successful, which is to say that the little things I've done have provided the correct support for low energy state calves which are fundamentally sound to begin with. No magic involved, just basic thermodynamics.
Which is not to say that the process doesn't have sweet and magical aspects. But all of the thrill and wonder and delight has to bow to reality or it's all a wasted sham.
I'm increasingly certain that the vast, vast majority of my fellow norte americanos live entirely in fantasy and have rejected reality. The crash is going to be brutal, and it has the potential to make all previous human disasters pale in comparison.
Well, if anything human emerges it should be stronger. That's the way of nature.