Between Monday evening and Thursday night of last week, we lost all three calves. I don't know if I posted this before, but Bruce bought two more calves besides Buttercup's calf, and the plan was to have these two calves nurse alongside the other one to keep up Buttercup's milk supply. The first calf never really was well from the beginning. He never did seem very energetic. He died Monday afternoon. Bruce felt bad about it, but it kind of took us by surprise.
The other two calves were doing just fine until Tuesday night, when we noticed that the spotted one was lethargic. We tried to bottle feed it, and warm it up, but to no avail. By Wed morning, it was dead also. That was hard because he was SO CUTE. I was trying not to get attached to that calf because I try to keep the end in mind (sold at the auction), but man, he was cute.
Thursday afternoon when Bruce went out to milk Natalie (I'll explain about that in a minute), he could tell that Buttercup's calf was not doing well. What?! We thought the other two were mostly due to Buttercup not nurturing them very well, but she had been taking care of her own calf just fine. He seemed really cold, so Bruce actually brought him in the house and got in a warm shower with him! He laid him out on a warm towel in the bathroom with a heat lamp and and a heater right by him. We took turns sitting by him, trying to bottle feed him, trying to get him warmed up and get some energy going. Bruce finally fell asleep, and I was sitting with the calf at about 11:30 pm. He was breathing really fast, and then he lifted his head up, mooed two or three times (the first time he'd done that), and then his breathing stopped, and he died.
I have never had something like that happen to me before. I've never seen a person or an animal die like that. Now, you have to understand that I'm not a huge animal person, so I don't attach to animals by nature, and second, we'd only had this calf for a week, so we didn't have a long history. But still, I was involved in anticipating it's birth (praying, even, for Buttercup that she'd get that calf out); I was within 20 feet of Buttercup through the whole birthing process, and rejoiced in the birth of a living thing. So to have it die while I was sitting up with it an rubbing it's fur and trying to feed it was sobering. Bruce was there too, because he was just sleeping outside the bathroom, and he woke up when he mooed. I thought it was so interesting that he mooed like that just before he died. I've been reflecting on that.
Bruce and I were at a loss. We sat in the kitchen and stared at each other. In addition to just feeling like bad stewards of living things, we were faced also with the loss of income potential. Each of those calves could have sold at the auction for $500-$800 in 18 months.
That's when Google came in handy (I love you guys at Google!). It only took about half an hour of looking things up and reading before we felt like we had some answers. We worked all day Friday starting to remedy the situation, and it will still take some time, and a lot of money that we don't have, but it has to be done.
The other challenging thing is that now we are milking two Jersey cows! (It's my turn in half an hour, so I have to make this short.) Bruce brought Natalie, L. and T.'s Jersey cow, over to start milking her because they don't have time right now to do it, but were willing to let us milk her. We were working on getting used to that when all of a sudden Buttercup has no calves to nurse, so we are now milking both of them. That has been a task! Bruce did it for one time and went and bought a milking machine. I know L. is going to give us a bad time about that, but it's worth the ribbing! We are excited to get that machine. But it won't come for another week, so it's going to take about an hour morning and night to take care of these two cows. With the surger (sp?), as it's called, we can get five gallons of milk in 3 minutes. That's what they say! Right now five gallons takes more than an hour.
Saturday was the Piano Festival. The children (except Peter who broke his arm) have all been working on memorizing two songs to play for a Judge for the last 10 weeks. They worked hard!
Just for the record, and for Aunt Michelle (on my side of the family), who might be interested, here's what they played:
Josh - Mackinac Bridge Overture by Mazilynn Ham and Danza de la Rosa by Enrique Granados
Joseph - El Conquistador by Eugenie Rocherolle and Waltz in Ab Major Op. 39 No. 15 by Johannes Brahms
Jesse - Evening Tide by Jennifer Linn and Scherzo in G Major by Ludwig van Beethoven
Mary - Jumping the Hurdles by Timothy Brown and Clouds by George Peter Tingley
Libby - The Silly Sandpiper by Elizabeth Greenleaf and Soccer on Saturday by Lori Bastien.
Josh, Jesse, and Mary all got fives on their score, and Joseph and Libby got fours. Joseph had a rough time of it. He played his songs a million times (and I don't think I'm exaggerating), and just the night before I sat and listened to him play and he had them 99% perfect. They were beautiful, besides being difficult. When it came time for his performance, though, he stumbled on both songs and had some memory lapses. It made him so nervous that his hands were shaking. He was so disappointed.
What I realized is that performance is a skill that has to be developed, a technique that needs to be worked on, just like tempo, phrasing, voicing, etc. And I have not taught our children very much about that, probably because I don't know much about it myself, and really, I'm a poor performer, when it comes right down to it. So, I talked with Joseph about that, and we determined to get some books to read (I have two good recommendations), and work on this skill. The judge gave him some nice recommendations too, and was very instructive in her comments.
I loved Sacrament Meeting today. In one of the hymns, the phrase "cleanse our hearts" touched me deeply, and I felt that desire deeply. Libby bore her testimony - she was the first one up after the Bishop finished. Her eyes lit up when she saw "Testimonies" on the program.
I'm back after milking the cows. Natalie is pretty fast - we get about a gallon from her at each milking, but Buttercup takes forever! Her teats are all weird so that you can only do one at a time on each side. It's a good thing we're getting that milking machine!!!
Our community (I think spearheaded by our stake) is doing a thing where each family is encouraged to "unplug" electronic devices and focus on family activities for the whole month of March. We have committed to doing this. I'm still going to read my email, but I'm going to try to only do that when the kids are at school. I'm going to be off of Facebook, reading the news and reading blogs. These are my "electronic" things. This is going to be hard for me! Since this blog is family history, and it's all about our family, I'm still going to blog. One "rule" that we can follow is that if you can watch a movie, or a ball game, etc. if the whole family does it together.
On Monday, I planned the heading of this blog as follows: Spring Soccer Begins! Interesting how other things became more important over the course of the week. Peter and Libby haven't started yet, so we're not in full swing, but the four older kids have. Josh is playing U-18 with the big boys (he's a big boy - that is so weird), Bruce is coaching Joseph's U-16 team, Jesse is playing on a competitive U-13 team, and I am coaching Mary's U-12 team. Our first game is on Saturday, and all of us play really hard teams. I really enjoy coaching Mary's team. They are awesome! And Bruce has coached most of the boys on Joseph's team for years, so they have fun together.
Here is installment #2 on Joseph's track. It's gotten very elaborate!
And last, but not least, Happy, Happy Birthady to this wonderful Grandma that we love so much!! She isn't getting any older, because years ago, when Bruce was teenager (aka Stanley), she started giving him her birthdays. We love you Grandma. Thank you for all you do for us and how much you love us.