Saturday, November 24, 2012


Its Thanksgiving season and I've been thinking about all of the things I'm grateful for, as we all do this time of year.  It was so nice to have my Dad and Ed's Dad with us for Thanksgiving dinner.  We were so lucky to have them with us. But I truly would give just about anything to have just one more Thanksgiving like we did when I was little.  I loved going to my Grammy's house, even though I had to sit at the kids table in the little sewing room.  I couldn't wait until I was old enough to sit at the grown up table.  Actually, I used to plan how I was going to get an invite to the table before my older cousins did. Since I was the baby, everyone was older than me.  I was low man on the totem pole for a grown up seat.  I would sit and plot and plan my attack when I was alone.  I was usually alone a significant period of time when my older cousins would "play house" and pretend I was the baby.  They made me a bed in the box of blankets in my Grammy's living room closet.  They would tell me it was bedtime and leave.  Of course, they never came back. They are obviously all adults now, and whenever this topic comes up, they sheepishly deny that it ever happened. However, if you look at the gleam in their eyes, you know they remember very clearly!  I miss my Grammy.  I miss my aunts and uncles.  I miss my mother.  I was so fortunate to be adopted by such a wonderful, loving family.  It even sounds funny saying that, because I never felt adopted.  I just felt loved.  My cousin Karen and I would laugh when our moms would do something that just made us shake our heads....and I would tease her and tell her that she was going to get it and I wasn't!  

The Christmas season was particularly wonderful in my family.  There were three pews of us in church Christmas Eve and then we'd head to our family party for the stuffed cabbages and gift exchange.  We still do this, but there are much fewer of us now.  Then, we would spend the week between Christmas and New Years visiting each other's houses, looking at each other's presents, and laughing at Uncle Geno's annual Charlie Brown tree!  

But, I realized that I found myself getting lost in what was.  Nothing can be as special as the memories that we grow up with and the people who loved us.  But, I don't want to ignore what's good about today.  Today, my son Andrew has a girlfriend, Kelly, that we already love as one of our family.  Today, our friends, the O'Rourkes have their first beautiful granddaughter, Ryleigh.  Today, I still have most of my cousins, however, I no longer play house with them!  Today, I have my husband and my boys and we have the blessing of tomorrow, when two of my dear cousins are spending what is probably their last holiday together after 44 years of being together.

And, today, I have the blessing of my animals.

I have a duck who goes to work with me:

A bunny who likes to swim:

A cat who likes to help me write my blog:

A beagle who loves to snuggle in pillows. I'm particularly thankful when they aren't my pillows!: 

A big dog who just loves life....and really loves to sleep:

A Gus, who just loves everyone:

A husband who loves our animals as much as I do!!:

And Amos...who has enhanced our lives in so many ways.  He has innocently fought to survive and inspired so many of us to smile at the joy he brings. Amos has brought new friends into our lives, reintroduced old friends, and strengthened our current friendships.  Best of all, he brought us to pray together.  Amos is definitely a dwarf, and we have no way of knowing what internal abnormalities he has been born with.  Every day with him is a blessing. I look forward to starting every day being greeted with his big, innocent eyes and his exuberant bouncing around when I bring him his milk. Mostly, I look forward to sharing his life with all of you!

And finally, I'm thankful for the smiles on the faces of the people who have come to our farm to experience farm life, and to be loved by Amos:

And Delaney says it all.......

Sunday, November 4, 2012



Amos made it to the day he was supposed to be born!  We weighed him, and he weighed 70 lbs!  What a huge difference from the day he was born, when he weighed under 20 lbs! I honestly never thought we'd make it this far!  He has gained a lot of weight, and has thickened up a great deal, but he isn't getting much taller.  When I compare him to our other calves, his front legs are very short, especially from his knee to his ankle.  Those joints are exceptionally large, too.  He is still giving us a hard time about eating his feed.  He doesn't like to drink water either.  He only likes his milk.  Period.  

We did get him a new pen that we'll use in the garage this winter.  It's just a really big dog pen. In the winter, when it gets cold, we're going to mount heat lamps on a board and hang it over a corner of the pen so it stays warm for him.  Thanks to my friend Terry Taylor for that idea! The weather wasn't too bad this past week (before and after Hurricane Sandy, that is!) so we put it up outside so Amos can get used to it.  He really likes it outside, and now he can eat the grass and not get sick, so that's progress!  He also really loves to play with Buckwheat!

He likes to play with Ed too!  

We had to take down Amos' pen in the breezeway.  He's just too strong.  He either pushes it across the room, or knocks it over completely.  Our cat Whisper was neutered this week, so he's been staying in the breezeway with Amos.  Whisper likes to go outside, but I kept him in for a few days so he didn't get an infection.  He and Amos got to know each other pretty well.  He's not afraid of Amos at all!  Amos was leery of Whisper in the beginning, but now, they are good friends!

We kept the sheets on the straw for awhile, but Amos kept kicking them off and rooting through the straw, so we did away with them.  We had to take just about anything that wasn't nailed down out of the room, and Amos checks out everything!  I can tell when he's hungry, because he stands by the kitchen door and looks in the window!

If I don't get to the door right away, he stand there and moos at me! I do take Amos for walks with his goat halter, but he's growing so much that I'm going to actually have to switch to a small calf halter!  Last time we tried one of those, it went right over his whole head!  Amos loves to go for walks through the fields behind our house.  Next time, I'll show you how he runs in circles on the lead!

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Amos is just over 5 weeks old now.  He's very hungry and drinking milk like crazy!  It doesn't matter who is feeding him either.  He has lots of visitors who enjoy playing with him and feeding him:

Amos really does seem healthy for the most part.  He still doesn't poop without stimulation, and even though he is gaining weight, he isn't growing as tall as he should.  But, otherwise he's full of energy!  He's so hungry that after he's finished his bottle he goes into a panic!  He knocks his pen over and sucks on anything he can get his mouth on...usually my hand!

He's so hungry that we decide to switch to powdered milk because it has electrolytes in it.  He does well on it for a couple of days, but as soon as we increase the amount, he gets diarrhea.  By the end of the day, it is bloody.  So, we switch back to regular milk. All calves are hungry little buggers, but Amos is still more hungry than he should be.  We slowly increase his milk to a full bottle for his first feeding and 3/4 of a bottle for the other two feedings. But as soon as we increase it, he gets diarrhea again.  I'm beginning to feel like we're never going to find a good way to feed him!  Its so hard to find what's right for his system.  On one hand, he shouldn't even be born yet.  His system isn't developed enough for food or milk.  On the other hand, he's been drinking milk for nearly 6 weeks, and the milk isn't enough to hold him any more.  Its such a roller coaster ride with him!  A game of trial and error.  But, even with the diarrhea, Amos is still full of life!  This video was taken the day we were trying the powdered milk:

Ed says we have to start him on feed.  I'm so afraid to try feed because of the aspiration problem.  He says that we have to get him started drinking out of a bucket too.  He'll eat better if he is no longer on the bottle, so I go to Tractor Supply and buy some buckets.  We tried to give Amos some feed, and put his milk in a bucket.  Lets just say, it didn't go over so well! He absolutely hated it! After we tried to feed him the starter feed, he was so angry that he ignored me the rest of the night:

Later that evening, I tried to give him his milk in a bucket.  He didn't like that very much either.    I think my entire breezeway floor was covered with milk! I hoped we had the right solution to Amos' eating problems, but when while he was drinking out of the bucket, he did that aspirating thing again.  He abruptly stops eating. His breathing becomes really shallow, kind of panting and tries to cough.  His heart is racing, his tongue hangs out and he's in a daze.  He stumbles a little, and just stands there for a few minutes.  It was really bad this time. Then, he comes out of it and seems fine. Its so disturbing to watch and so upsetting because I can't seem to help him while its happening.  I pat his sides, rub his throat and usually cry!  The next morning I call the vet (again!).  He asks me to describe Amos' episodes (again!).  He says that even though it looks like he's aspirating, he's not.  If he was breathing milk into his lungs, his breathing wouldn't return to normal afterwards.  That's the good news. The bad news is that Amos is most likely choking.  He said that from a neurological perspective, the nerves, muscles, etc of his esophagus are probably still not well-developed so when he drinks milk too fast, it gets stuck in his throat. I also spoke with Dr. Jud Heinrich, who is the head of the Dairy Nutrition program at Penn State University.  He said that even though he told us not to wean Amos too soon, he agrees with Ed and the vet that we need to start him on feed.  He agreed with giving Amos his milk out of a bucket, too.  I guess that will help him to develop those esophagus muscles better, too.  He also said that the fact that Amos weighed 53 lbs was amazing! Healthy calves are doing great if they double their weight by 6 weeks, and Amos has passed that right up!  Dr Heinrich also said not to use the powdered milk because Amos won't develop his cud.  He'll need whole cow's milk to do this.  He said that Amos really is a miracle!  He told me to make sure I take lots of pictures and document this experience well, because its a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  I assured him we already knew that!!!!  

Amos really doesn't like drinking out of a bucket, but after several days, he gets better at it.  He still tries to suck my fingers, and still gets really mad when the milk runs out!  

Amos is getting more inquisitive, too.  He is interested in anything he can get his mouth on!  He tries to chew on everything!  He seems to be a very happy bull!  He runs and bounces around.  He gets into trouble, too!

Well, Ed tried giving Amos some of the feed he makes here at the farm, because its flakier.  It seems like an easier texture for Amos to eat.  He still doesn't like it, but eats it better than the starter feed. And, we continue to give Amos his milk in a bucket.  We now have to figure out something different for a pen, since he clearly only stays in this one when he wants to!  I think he was staying in it just to humor me all along!  Next time, I'll show you his new pen...and some of Amos' friends.  In the mean time:

Sunday, October 21, 2012


As I said in the last blog, Amos had aspirated again!  I spent another evening sitting in his pen with him, feeling hopeless.  I felt like I was losing him, and I had  no clue how to stop it.  I sat looking at his sweet little face and those 2 big silly-looking teeth on the bottom. I reached over to touch his teeth and see if they were still loose, and I saw a piece of straw sticking out the side of his mouth.  I pulled it out, and it was about 10 inches long! It had to go halfway down his throat! I felt the other side of his mouth, and sure enough, there was another piece of straw.  It was just as long as the first one I pulled out!  I swept my finger across the back of his tongue and right in the middle I thought I felt something.  I barely was able to grab just the tip of it and I started to pull.  Very slowly, I pulled...and pulled....and pulled. By the time I was done I pulled a wad of straw out of his tiny little throat that was half the size of a baseball!  That was why he was eating so slow and why he was aspirating!  I checked his throat again, and unbelievably, there was another smaller wad still in there! I carefully pulled that out too! He was instantly breathing easier....go figure!  Then, I realized something.  I had just posted this really cute video of Amos snoring the night before.  The lesson here - before you post a really cute video of your cow snoring...check to make sure he isn't actually choking to death first!  I just have to remember how tiny he is!  Anything can still go wrong!  Here's a picture of Amos at 3 weeks old with a calf that isn't even 24 hours old yet!

 Well, I went to bed, but couldn't sleep at all.  I kept thinking that Amos was going to choke to death through the night.  So, I got up at 2am with what I thought was a great idea!  I put a sheet over the straw!  That way, Amos still had a soft bed, but he couldn't eat the straw!  So, I found some old sheets that I kept (why I kept twin sheets, I don't know.  We haven't had a twin bed in 10 years!).  I covered the straw with the sheet and put Amos back in his new pen.  As you can see in the video, Amos wasn't very happy with the change:

Amos really didn't like the sheet, and he clearly took it out on his stuffed pig!  The next morning he was still doing great.   No choking!  No straw in his throat!  I was very proud of myself!  My husband, though, walked out into the breezeway, saw the sheet and came back into the kitchen. He looked at me and said "In all my years of farming, I've never seen anything like that before..."  Then he just shook his head and left...He really shouldn't be that surprised.  I mean, he knows me pretty well.  After all, we've been married almost 25 years.  He shouldn't really be surprised at all!  The only problem with the sheet is that Amos pees a lot, so the sheet gets really wet.  With the straw, at least the liquid fell to the floor, and the straw kept him relatively dry. So, I get another sheet.  And another.  I end up having to change the sheets 3 or 4 times a day.  We try to think of other options.  Sand won't work because he will lick that in his sleep too. We ended up ruling out hay, straw, sand and sawdust.  Ed drove over an hour to our dairy supplier to buy a padded mat they use in some dairy barns.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  Until I got home, and saw it that is.  It really wasn't much softer than our floor!   No way was my little mini moo sleeping on that thing! It was hard as a rock (as a matter of fact, that thing is still tied up and laying on our back porch!).  So, I keep adding sheets to the supply, and try to think of different options.  I end up at Tractor Supply and find these foam squares that you put together like puzzle pieces.  For those of you who don't know, Tractor Supply is the Macys for farmers!  Amos really likes the mat. So much so that he keeps licking it. Then I was worried that it might be toxic! I went to look at the label, but it was in the garbage, and Ed had already taken the garbage out. Sooooo at 10 pm or so, we are out there with a flashlight digging through the garbage for the label. We found it, but the label didn't say if it was non-toxic. I spent the next hour searching the internet, and finally found that it was, in fact, non-toxic! One less thing to obsess about!  We're also going to price heaters for the garage and get some ideas about how to make him a stronger pen for the winter!  I found a little lump by his tail. Its under the skin, so I'm just going to keep an eye on it for a few days. Something new to obsess about! This is why I don't sleep anymore.......  The mat is really soft, but when he pees, the liquid just sits there, and Amos ends up soaking wet.  Even making holes so the liquid falls through doesn't help.  So, we go back to the straw, and I add more sheets to the supply, and stick with that.  I seriously can't think of any other option.  We just stick with this plan, until we come up with something better. Amos, in the mean time, is growing stronger, and more temper-mental!

Ed takes Amos outside in his pen and I keep checking on him because as we've just seen, he likes to head butt his pen and I'm convinced he going to get loose and get hit by a car or eaten by a coyote! He's sleeping soundly, so I go down to the basement to throw in a load of laundry. I get halfway across the basement and I hear a really loud moooo. I go running up the stairs across the kitchen pulling off my socks so I can go chase him through the yard! I get to the back door and look - and see Amos sound asleep in his pen! So, I go back down the stairs and get almost to the washer and....mooooooo....! Again, I go rushing up the stairs across the kitchen, and once again, Amos is sound asleep. I go look around because I figure the other cows are loose..... but no cows are in sight! I look at the TV, thinking one of Ed's farm programs is on, but its still "Murder She Wrote"....yes, I watch "Murder She Wrote" and I watch it proudly!!!! So, I go to the basement one more time, and this time I barely make it to the bottom of the steps and.....moooo!!! I AGAIN run back up the steps and see NOTHING!!!! But, as I am looking around, I glance at the TV and on the wall behind Jessica Fletcher's head, I see plaques with black and white cows on them! I hit info and see that the episode is about an ice cream business and the dairy farm that supplies the milk!!!! God truly has a sense of humor.......

Amos continues to grow and thrive!  He does have these episodes that are just like when he aspirated, and they're very scary....However, he seems like he's doing really well, otherwise.  He has a lot of visitors, who love to play with him!

Amos is truly a hit with everyone!  He is just so inspiring.  His innocent desire to live just touches everyone's heart!  I have so many people asking about him, and asking me to write a blog so that others can follow his progress.  He even has a Fans of Amos Facebook page!  Folks keep asking me when he'll be "out of the woods".  I keep thinking that he's past the critical point, but I'm afraid to say the words for fear that something will happen.  Well......I was closer to the truth than I knew.....

Sunday, October 14, 2012


The night before Amos turns 2 weeks old, I'm feeding him his late-night bottle, as usual.  All of a sudden, he stops eating and starts gasping for air.  His mouth is open and his tongue is hanging out.  Then, he falls over.  I'm usually really good in a crisis, but now, I freak!  I yell for Ed and start pounding on Amos' side and rubbing his throat.  Ed picks him up and we take him outside.  Ed holds him up and makes him start to walk around to get air into his lungs, but Amos is in a daze.  After awhile, he starts to come around.  He starts walking around and mooing (off in the distance we hear an adult cow moo in return, and I wonder if its his mother...).  He can't stand for long, so we put him back in his pen.  I sit up with him all night and again I ask for prayers on Facebook.  I know exactly what has happened.  He inhaled milk into his lungs.  I know he's going to have aspiration pneumonia. I feel so bad.  He's trying so hard to survive, and this has to happen.  I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I watch him get sicker as the night goes on. He gets colder too, so I turn up the heater.  This night seems to go on forever!  By morning, Amos is so weak he can barely stand without help. Dr. Bissett comes over first thing and my worst fears are confirmed.  He has aspiration pneumonia.  Its in the bottom 1/3 of his right lung.  That tissue will most likely die. He gives Amos an injection of antibiotic and a steroid injection.  He instructs us to give him a shot of each for the next several days, but, when I leave the room I can see him shaking his head while he's talking to my husband and I know what he's saying.  When I come back into the room he tells me how serious it is.  He says that it would be almost impossible for a healthy calf to survive this.  Amos is just to little and weak.  There isn't much of a chance he'll survive this. Because of the damage to his lungs, his organs will begin to fail since he wont be able to get enough oxygen . He said that we'll know in the next 24 to 36 hours if he'll survive.  If the medicine doesn't pull him through by then, he won't make it. He lays Amos' little head on the pig stuffed animal that Kelly and JJ bought.  This opens his airway to help him breathe easier. Dr. Bissett doesn't think he'll make it through the night. But, he said that Amos is a little miracle already, so if any animal can pull through, he can!  Ed and I discuss it, and we both feel the same.  We won't let him suffer.  If we see that he is getting worse, we'll call the vet to come back and put him to sleep. The anxiety and sadness is overwhelming.  Again, I spend the night in his pen.  Again, I asked for prayers from my friends on Facebook.  You can say what you want about the pitfalls of social networking, but Facebook was my lifeline that night.  I was so despondent.  I felt totally helpless.  I felt like I let him down.  He needed me to help him with his fight to survive, and I failed him. So that night, he slept and I prayed. I read the prayers and well wishes and words of encouragement from my Facebook family.  Over these past few weeks, Amos has really become theirs, too.  It was a long night. He barely moved a muscle.  Finally, about 4:30 am, he seemed to be breathing easier, so I went to bed to try to catch some sleep because I had to go to work the next day.  At 5:30, Ed wakes me.  He said that I better get downstairs.  I knew that Amos was dead. I can't put into words how I felt, but it was dark and heavy and sad. Instead, Ed says that somebody is waiting for me. This is what I saw:

This was Amos' second miracle!  It was the prayers and love from everybody that pulled him through!  Now Ed, of course, thinks it was the good cows milk and I'm sure the vet thinks it was his professional skill, but I know what it really was...  We have to give Amos the shots for the next several days.  Well, I should say Ed has to give him the shots.  I really hate doing that.  Ed is fine with the IM shots, but the sub q shots really give him trouble.  My friend Amye is a nurse at my work and offers to come over and give Amos his shot.  Her daughter Emma came over to help feed him, too.  Amye listens to his lungs and says he actually still has some air moving in the damaged lung occasionally.  That's a great sign!  He's still very weak, though:

The vet checks in and can't believe that, once again, Amos has survived!  If I don't update daily on Facebook, I get a ton of messages asking about him.  By the time he's 3 weeks old, Amos is starting to perk back up and even seems like he's getting stronger.  He's hungry all of the time, and drinking like crazy!  However, on his 3 week birthday I was giving him his evening bottle when he aspirated again.  He was drinking his bottle much slower than usual.  It was taking him forever and he was getting really frustrated when all of a sudden he stopped drinking and started gasping. He was trying to cough, but couldn't. He plopped down and just laid there.  I took him outside again and got him moving, and this time he seemed to recover faster.  Ed said he didn't really want his whole bottle this afternoon either.  I took him back inside and laid him in his pen.  I just sat there with him.  He wasn't breathing right and was getting weak again.  I had no idea what to do.  I felt like we were losing him.  I was sitting there looking at him and I wondered if his teeth were still loose.  I put my finger in his mouth to feel his teeth and you won't believe what I found there!  

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I'm still not quite sure, exactly, what it is about Amos.  All I know is that even if you've never met him, you know he's special.  After you meet him, the feeling is even stronger.  Part of it is that he just inspires hope. He really fights to live, and he's been a fighter from the minute we found him.  I think that for a lot of us, it feels good to have something to root for.  Some innocent little creature that beats the odds, again and again!  He has lead us to pray together, to laugh, and to cry.  We're still not 100% sure that he's going to make it, but the journey he's taken us on together was worth every minute!    I can never capture the emotion of the past month with Amos on paper.  My family and friends on Facebook can attest to that.  They rode the roller coaster of ups and downs with me.  They comforted me with their love, prayers and encouragement during those long nights when we didn't think Amos would pull through.  They laughed at the videos and stories I posted about Amos' fight to get stronger and develop his own little personality.  But, I think its important to try and tell his story from the beginning, regardless of the ending, because he's just worth it.

September 5, 2012  about 6 pm my husband, Ed, had just finished milking cows and went looking on our pasture hill for a cow that hadn't come down.  He was concerned because when pregnant cows don't come down its usually because they've delivered their calf.  This cow wasn't due for another 2 months though.  Ed called me on his way down and said he was bringing a calf down to the house.  The cow had, in fact, delivered twins 8 weeks early.  One was stillborn, and the other was barely alive.  Ed said the surviving calf was laying partway down a hill, just staring, but breathing.  He said that in all of his life, he'd never seen a calf this little survive.  Ed brought him into the house, and this is the picture I took:

In the picture above we brought in Gus, one of our dogs that's a beagle/heeler mix , for a size comparison.  Gus was bigger than this calf.  The calf is a holstein/brown swiss mix.  At full-term he should weigh between 80 to 100 lbs at birth.  This little guy was under 20 lbs!  He is so weak and fragile, we figured he wouldn't survive the night.  He has virtually no muscle control.  He can't sit up or stand.  He moves his head in an uncontrolled, jerky way and his body has muscle spasms.  His ears are pointy and not completely formed and his eyes are swollen and barely open.  He has no teeth and his hooves are very soft on top and bottom.  Instead of hair, his body is covered in a grey,velvety fuzz.  He's cool to the touch.  We knew that if he had any chance at all of surviving that he needed the colostrum from his mother's milk, so Ed, our oldest son Andrew, and I brought her down to the barn and Ed milked her.  We put some of her milk in a calf bottle and as soon as I put the nipple in his mouth, the little bull started sucking!  He drank about 6 oz, but the nipple is waaay to big for him.  He was so weak that I had to hold his head up to feed him because he can't hold his head up on his own.  I sat with him most of the night, but he didn't move much and was barely breathing. He has such a pretty face and just stares up at you.  It just breaks my heart! I researched everything I could find on the internet about caring for premature calves, but went up to bed around 3 am figuring Ed would find him dead in the morning.  Everything I read said that it was impossible for a calf 8 weeks premature to survive. Their lungs aren't developed enough and they can't control their body temperature. I called Gus out of the room, but he laid down by the calf and wouldn't leave him.  The next morning, we were stunned to find the little calf still alive!  He drank 6 more oz of his mother's milk before I left for work.  We put him in a circular baby gate, and when the sun came out, Ed moved him outside to keep him warm:

Ed put the cover on the top so the calf wouldn't get overheated by the direct sunlight and put stones on so it wouldn't blow away.  Gus would not leave the gate.  He wouldn't let any of the other dogs near it either!  Ed went to Agway and got the calf a smaller nipple.  One made for goats.  It fits on a pop bottle.  This works much better:

He drank 8 oz of his mother's milk in the afternoon, but he was starting to get diarrhea, so for the evening we tried watering down the milk.  He's mooing like crazy and keeps trying to move around.  He's so light that I can easily pick him up with one hand!  

He made it through another night, but he definitely has diarrhea.  We know we need to do something fast or this will kill him.  We called the vet, who said that he wasn't surprised that this happened.  His digestive system is probably just not developed enough.  Well, we refused to quit trying!  This little guy certainly wasn't giving up!  We gave him some liquid medicine for the diarrhea and switched to regular cow's milk.  His mother's milk was just too rich.  We are feeding him only 2-3 oz every 3 hours and giving him water in between to prevent dehydration.  He's alert, but really not doing well.  I keep checking his skin, eyes, and mouth for signs of dehydration, but don't see any yet.  He's just so weak.  I ask everyone on Facebook to pray for him again.  I stay up with him most of the night.  I feel so helpless.  I just don't know what else to do to help him.  When I look at him, he's just the sweetest thing!  He looks at you with those big eyes and you melt.  I feel like he needs a name.  Even if he only lives for a few days, he deserves a name.  I look up biblical names.  Amos is one of the first ones I come to, and it means "strength" and "love".  This is perfect for him!  So, Amos he is!

The next morning, he still has diarrhea so Ed gives him half of a pill we give our other calves for scours.  It also has an antibiotic in it.  Ed called me at work because he had a really hard time rousing Amos and his body was cold to the touch.  We thought he was dying.  But, by the end of the day, he no longer has diarrhea and he even seems a little stronger!  He throws himself around, so we keep him in a pen of straw we made with the baby gate.  He's living in the breezeway of my house with Gus always keeping vigil:

He's becoming much more alert and even trying to stand!  If I hold him up, he moves his legs like he's trying to walk. He still can't weight-bare yet, but he keeps trying.  His appetite is really good. 

By Sunday, the 9th he hasn't pooped in 24 hrs.  Now I'm worried that he's constipated!  He's had lots of visitors.  Kelly (Andrew's girlfriend) and JJ (our family family friend or she'll get mad!)  bought Amos a stuffed pig toy so he isn't alone in his pen!  Best of all, Amos stood on his own and even took a few steps today!  He was sooooo happy!  His little tail was even wagging:

On Monday, Ed has to go to the pharmacy for stool softener suppositories.  We can't use a laxative and risk diarrhea again, but he has to go!  Ed had an interesting time explaining this situation to the pharmacists!  But, it was worth it - the suppositories worked!  Amos pooped and it was solid!  I'm going to use Karo in his bottles from now on.  Amos continues to progress through the week, and by the time he's one week old, he's drinking 10 oz of milk three times a day! His breathing has a bit of a rattle to it at times and he has a runny nose.  I'm so afraid of aspiration pneumonia. That seems to be his biggest risk. The vet is coming to see him Thursday.  I phoned Penn State and Ohio State to see if they could recommend anything that I could be doing better.  The vet from Ohio State argued with me that Amos could not be 8 weeks premature and survive, but after I described him in detail she was shocked.  Then she told me he needed x-rays and blood work and should be raised in a sterile, hospital-like setting.  She even suggested that I bring him there to raise. I told her absolutely not!  She then told me not to get my hopes up because he probably wouldn't survive.  I told her that I doubted that any of them would lay in his pen with him and hold him like we do, so if he was going to die, it would be with people who love him!  I told my husband that if everybody in Ohio was that negative and narrow-minded it was no wonder the Browns stink at football!  The vet, Jeff Bissett, comes over and says that he's still shocked that Amos survived.  Most calves this premature only live a few hours. But, his heart and lungs are clear and strong! He does have an infection in his belly button, so he gave us medicine and iodine for that and put him on a low-dose antibiotic just in case.  He also switched the Karo to mineral oil.  He said ecoli is the biggest threat, so we need to sanitize his bottles and nipple with the dishwasher or a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.  Amos continues to grow and thrive for the first two weeks of his life.  Everyone on Facebook calls him a miracle!  Then, at two weeks old, we almost lose him....

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


One minute I'm spending a lazy, rainy Sunday curled up with a book, under a blanket...and the next thing I know I'm walking with the dogs up on our hill to cut & stack wood for the winter!  In the rain!  What a miserable turn of events!  I'm not really sure how it happened....I must have been in a blissful fog when I agreed to this!  At least our friends, the O'Rourkes are with us, so I'm not alone in my misery!  The walk up wasn't too bad and the view was beautiful!

The dogs had a great time!  They ran and chased each other.  THey chased cows and other creatures.  When it started to storm, they chased me and tried to jump up into the tractor!  This is tryly an example of the not-so-romantic side of farming.  Cutting and stacking your winter supply of wood in the cold rain! 

Now, I have to admit, it is kind of fun watching the dogs enjoying themselves so much!  It's also nice to spend the day working with friends and family.  It truly was a team effort today! 

Notice Gus laying toward the bottom of the picture?  He is happily chewing on what appears to be a turkey foot!   Gratefully neither he nor the other dogs located the rest of the bird!

After cutting and stacking all of the wood on a wagon, we headed back down to the house since my cousin Heather, her husband Louis and their son Xavier were coming over to meet Amos.  Yesterday, my cousin Tara, her husband Bill and their 2 little girls Reese and Libby also made the trip down.  My very favorite part of farm life is watching little ones explore parts of the farm and learn about the animals.  They really love to get eggs out of the chicken house  and they think its great to watch Lola (the duck) waddle when she tries to run!  I love watching them explore the barn looking for kitties.  Little Libby (just a year old) giggled and giggled when the calves walked over to her and started mooing.  She really loved petting the bunny - who almost ended up with one less eye in the deal!

This is Reese, who was a big help preparing Amos' pen:

And feeding Amos his bottle:

Sunday, Xavier explored the barn with Jacob and then he and I found a kitty to play with:

And, of course, Xavier had to help feed Amos:

So, the weekend was pretty great....even the wood thing, I guess.  I'm now sitting in my  chair, under a that we have wood, I even have the first fire of the year in my fireplace!  Oh, and guess who else is enjoying the relaxing fire........

Sunday, September 30, 2012


Here's a short introduction to the other animals on our farm:


This is Whisper
Whisper is an indoor/outdoor cat.  If he sprays in my house again, he'll be an outdoor/outdoor cat!  He was given to me by a girl at work.  He'll be neutered in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully that will help with the spraying.  I think that if I was a cat and someone neutered me, I'd stop just about everything!  Just in case.  I could only get one pic of the barn cats because they aren't around when I want them to be.  This one appears to be the sentry:

 We probably have 8 or 9 barn cats.  All of them are black or black and white.  Like our other animals, they sleep.  A lot.  Some farmers don't feed their cats cat food, so they'll catch the mice and rats that eat the grain in the barn.  We do feed our cats cat food, and cow's milk that's left over.   For the most part, our cats are pretty healthy.  The tomcats are huge!  I've actually seen Tommy (original for a tomcat! again, I didn't name him) laying on a bale of hay in the barn  and when a mouse ran past, he just yawned, stretched and turned the other way!


These guys are in my back yard.  I love my chickens and duck.  I used to have 3 more male ducks and a couple of roosters.  Waaay too much testosterone in the chicken yard!  The males were mounting anything that moved.  They were pulling the feathers off of the backs of the chickens and my female duck.  My friend Adaira took my male ducks to a beautiful little farm with a lake and the ducks love it there.  We won't discuss what happened to the roosters.  That's a farm secret that I don't want to know about.  I can tell you that we don't eat our animals!  They are our pets.  In my mind, the roosters are hanging out at a huge chicken farm somewhere happily fertilizing eggs all day long!  The remaining duck is Lola.  She has her own little swimming pool that she loves!  She also likes it when I spray her with the hose.  The chickens do not.  I can't remember the names of all of the chickens.  They all come to "Here chicky chicky!"  So does Lola, for that matter.  So did the male ducks that Adaira took to the other farm.  I told her to let the gentleman know that was how he had to call them!

This is Petey.  OK, I did name him.  I got him about 5 years ago at the Washington County fair.  He is such a sweet rabbit.

 He's also a spoiled rabbit.  He has a winter home and a summer gazebo:

Oh....Petey likes to swim!


Finally, there are the cows.  My husband is a 3rd generation dairy farmer.  We're a pretty small dairy with a total of just 38 cows.  Most of our cows are holsteins (the black and white ones!), but we do have some jerseys (little brown cows), angus (beef cows), and now Ed is mixing in some brown swiss.  Here are some of our cows.

Many times, we end up with orphaned or injured animals that we try to help get back to their environment.  We've had birds, chipmunks, a baby raccoon, bunnies, a name it!  

But, by far, everyone's favorite is Amos.  We'll talk about him next time...