Thursday, January 8, 2015

(Un)Lucky the Cow

It's been so long since I've referred to our place as the Island of Misfit Cows. There's been Helen and Keller (both partially blind), Peggy (with the broken leg), and Ray (as in 'Charles'; completely blind). We haven't had any misfits since Ray was sent on his way and  I had to stop naming our cows because not one of them had any distinguishing characteristics (I can't even tell them apart).
 Until now.
Meet (Un)Lucky (I added the 'un' but Art just calls him 'Lucky'). (Un)Lucky's back legs are paralyzed. The farmer who Art got him from wasn't sure what happened. Originally, Art thought that it might be an infection because his leg was swollen, but after a dose of antibiotics the swelling went down but he still couldn't walk. So Art brought him home and put him in his shop where he would be warm and dry (well, as dry as you can be after peeing on yourself). He had the vet come and look at the calf and the vet said that judging by a hard boney mass on the calf's hip bone, it looked like he had some kind of spinal injury.
Art has the kind of heart that won't put an animal down until he is absolutely positive that he tried everything he could to make the animal healthy. This is why Art has endured a week of bottle feeding a calf; a week of cleaning his shop floor two or three times a day because of the pee and poop; a week of constantly moving him around so that he doesn't have to lay in his own pee and poop all day; a week of hosing him down with soap and water just so the calf doesn't have too much skin irritation (and also to keep the smell down); a week of walking into his shop several times a day and being bombarded by the stink of pee and baby calf poop (it's the worst. Seriously. The. Worst.).
We had been going back and forth about what to do with this calf. If he doesn't regain the ability to use his back legs then there isn't reason to keep him- not because we can't sell him or eat him, but because the calf would have a terrible quality of life. I jokingly told Art that he should build the calf a wheeled cart they make for dogs with spinal injuries and apparently that started Art's wheels turning (see what I did there?). This is how Art devised The Sling. (And yes, this really is my life)

Art had been looking for a burlap sack or an old hammock but found this old army tarp. His thinking was that it would be nice for the calf to be able to be up, to stretch his legs (at least the front ones), and not pee or poop on himself for once. So he cut four holes in the tarp, somehow affixed a strap in the middle, and tied rope to each corner, attaching it to his lift. Then he placed the calf on the tarp, pressed a button and up he went!

Art wasn't completely happy with his design. He felt like he cut the leg holes too large and didn't offer enough support through the middle. Art also said that he wished he had something to better support the calf's head so he looked more comfortable.
I'm not sure how long this calf will be around, but I hope he appreciates all of what Art has done for him, even if did look uncomfortable and embarrassed hanging in a sling.

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