Yesterday was a day in which I hate living on a farm. This rain every other day with cold cloudy days in between is almost worse than the bitter cold of winter. When the ground is saturated, each new rainfall has nowhere to go, and everything becomes a muddy mess.
On top of the mess, this is ideal weather for disease to flourish, not unlike what we are seeing in our human world. The cows huddle together causing even more nose to nose contact. We have new spring calves in with fall calves, also not ideal, but necessary for another week or two until the grass is back and the lower pasture dries up. We are feeding hay, which causes the cows to congregate at the feed source instead of being spread out across the pasture.
This is also the only time when I hate seeing a bald eagle. Any other time, I love seeing this majestic bird soar or sit in a dead tree above our creek. But when an eagle is in our pasture, it is either a killer or a scavenger. On this day, it was scavenging. One of our fall calves was dead. My husband checked it for blackleg (a disease that our calves are vaccinated against, but that can occur if the calf was vaccinated when it was too young and before its second dose). Not blackleg. He examined the carcass and the location and then uttered words I did not want to hear:
“I think it is pneumonia.”
With another week of off and on rain and cooler temperatures a couple of days, now we need to worry about keeping the rest of the herd healthy. We scouted for any signs – coughing, nasal or eye discharge, lethargy – but did not see anything alarming.
I doubt the cattle will be any easier to convince than the general population that social distancing would be the best moo-ve on their part to stopping the spread of yet another respiratory virus.