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Tito moves on

From the Farm

December 10, 2010
By Kerry Hoffman

Everyone should try to perform a simple act of kindness once in a while even if you're not sure how it's going to turn out.

Most people try to do make a person's life easier by letting them know their headlights are blazing bright. Coming out of church to a car with a dead battery wouldn't be one bit fun.

When it comes to farm life, we have been known to try to make our cow's lives a little more enjoyable. Just like people spoil their cats and dogs, once in a while we spoil our cows.

We have mounted a used street-sweeping brush in our pasture for the cows to incessantly rub their necks and banish any irritating itches in spots that their long tongues can't reach.

When we put fresh bedding in for the calves, we like to shake the straw over their backs. For some reason they find it as enjoyable as running in the pasture. Heck, we even have been known to let them run free in our yard. Moolatte, our newest Jersey calf, has been allowed to run free when I feed my chickens.

The other day, out of the kindness of his heart, Steve put a big round bale of cornstalks in the pen by our dry cows and heifers. Remember dry cows are cows that are not being milked at this time, but have had a calf and been milked previously. Heifers are young cows that haven't given birth to a calf yet, and have never, ever been milked.

Anyway, the dry cows and heifers love it when we put fresh corn stalks in their bedding area.

We haul the bale, about 6-foot in circumference, into their area and set it flat side down so we can cut the bale wrap away from the bale. (I hate this job; usually the knife I have is too dull to slice through the plastic net wrap.)

Before we even finish cutting the wrap off, the cows will be horning in on our space and head-wrestling the cornstalk bale. If cows had hands, it would look like a ticker-tape parade - only it would be corn leaves, bare corn stalks and dirt falling from the sky. They really get into it.

As I said, we put a large bale in the barn for the cows to play with; to give them something to do during the long, miserable, frosty winter.

We didn't have a clue as to what tragedy this bale would bring upon us. We were just trying to be nice.

We didn't know Tito, the Jersey I showed at the Brown County Fair this past summer, would some how get shoved in between the bale and the cement wall in their bedding area, and be unable to free herself from her quandary.

We don't know how long poor Tito remained trapped behind that dastardly bale. Joey found her Friday evening after milking.

It took us a long time to get Tito out of her predicament. To be honest, Tito looked like she was going to take her last breath. She couldn't move her legs, leaving her unable to stand; her left eye was swollen shut and she was freezing cold.

But I was determined to do what we could to bring Tito back to normal.

No matter how much I assured Joey of the fluke of events that happened, it was just a bad string of events that led us to this point.

For four days we nursed Tito. Several times a day we ventured out to get her lying correctly; she would always try to get up and end up lying flat out on her side. We carried buckets of water and feed directly to her and stood guard so the other cows could not steal the goods -Moose and Chubby are the biggest thieves I know!

Sunday afternoon she stopped eating. Sunday evening she stopped drinking water.

Tuesday morning she had frost clinging to her beautiful brown coat of fur.

The vet came later Tuesday and diagnosed Tito with the start of pneumonia - despite the fact that we had been treating her with penicillin. I figured it was a good possibility that she would come down with it and the medicine didn't work.

I had to make a decision -a decision I didn't want to make. At first I said we would work with Tito no matter how hard it was going to be.

Then reality set in. It would take months for her to recuperate.

Then Tito groaned letting me know she was miserable; I swore a bit and kicked the pile of cornstalks surrounding her.

It was time to let her go.

I was angry-sad (if that makes sense) that our decision had come to this point. After one last prayer, a gentle rub on her nose and a fine scratch behind her ear, I gave her up to greener pastures with pansies, petunias and a flowing stream.

I can only hope she's glad I set her free, because right now I feel miserable.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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