Monday, March 24, 2008

Earlene and Her Brother

The farmer went out to the barn on Saturday morning and Brandy was calling for her babies. Her babies were not supposed to be born for over two more weeks, so this wasn't good. The same thing happened last year.

Like last year, it wasn't normal. The farmer worried that she had aborted her kids in the night from the way she was talking - as if they were already born and had gotten separated from her - but there was nothing to be found in any of the stalls or out in the pasture. So the farmer bounced Brandy, and could feel a baby's head bumping around inside.

And within a couple of hours, Brandy laid down to push, and the farmer pulled out a tiny little doe. This one was more advanced than last year's, with plenty of fur, and with a few good smacks and a couple of puffs in the mouth, she started breathing. The farmer bounced Brandy again, and thought there was another head.

Then the farmer rushed the little doeling inside to warm her up, and soon she was settled in front of the woodstove in a rubbermaid tub, and even though she couldn't really walk or stand on her own, she was doing very well. Because it was such a cold morning, and because she was born so early, her name is Early Frost, but she is called Earlene.

The farmer went back to check on Brandy. The farmer bounced Brandy again, and this time didn't feel anything, and a few hours later Brandy passed her placenta. The farmer bounced a few more times, and still felt nothing, and decided not to put the gloves on and go in, because that would be stressful for Brandy if there wasn't another baby in there.

Meanwhile the little baby inside was now able to stand with help, and had taken some colostrum, and looked very good in spite of being small. And Brandy looked pretty good, and was eating a little bit, and had taken some electrolytes and calcium, and appeared to be resting even though she was not quite herself.

So the rest of the day passed, and everything seemed okay, and the farmer put aside the idea, the first idea, that there had been another baby, and everyone went to bed, and little Earlene proved to be a very cooperative baby and slept almost all through the night.

Early Easter morning, when the farmer came out to feed, the first thing the farmer heard again was Brandy's quiet distressed murmurs. The straw in Brandy's stall was all in disarray, showing that Brandy had been pawing and working through it, and in the middle of the stall was Earlene's brother, born in the night.

Brandy had not been able to get him started breathing on her own, and he was dead.

And so the farmer sat with Brandy, and apologized, and patted her until she quieted down, and then took Earlene's brother away.