Friday, January 20, 2006

Hitting the Bottle with Dylan

A full farm day yesterday. A quiet kind of a day. I'm slowly getting the hang of the "routines". There is a morning routine and an evening routine.

To start the day Doug showed me how to bottlefeed Dylan. So funny! The process is to stand on the outside of Dylan's pen and hold the bottle over the edge so Dylan can reach it. (The bottle is probably half-gallon size and the nipple is easily "party size" in terms of human babies.)

Doug showed me two important things to remember when offering a bottle to Dylan. First, hold on to the nipple. Dylan will glom it so hard he could yank it off. Second, hold the back of the bottle against your chest. As a calf will do with an udder, it will sharply "push into" the bottle to stimulate more milk flow. By holding the bottle against your chest you'll lessen the impact of the push.

Okay, here we go.

I placed the bottle over the rail to a waiting Dylan and he was all over it! I could feel the pulling, pulling, pulling, but it wasn't so hard of a pull that one could not hang on. He's craning his neck, positioning his legs, pulling backwards, sucking like it was his first, last, and only feeding. His eyes are rolled back into his head and the milk is just flying out of the bottle and down his throat. Cute, funny, sweet, and exciting all at the same time. While the milk was washing down Dylan's throat, all the "warm and fuzzy chemicals" were washing over me. It's impossible not to smile while holding the bottle.

For a moment I relaxed too much and forgot to hold the bottle against my chest.


It was apparently time to "push into" the bottle.

It wasn't so hard a push as to be at all painful, but it definitely stood me up a little straighter!

With about half of the milk gone, I poured the remainder into Dylan's feed which he polished off immediately. He's being weaned and this is the stage he's at.

Also, I'm wearing gloves and they came in, umm, handy. As Dylan was pulling down the milk, the side of his mouth foamed slightly with a saliva and milk mixture that was extremely sticky. Sticky enough so that I couldn't shake it off my glove no matter how hard I shook it! It came off with some paper.

So, I got to bottlefeed a sweet, silly calf!

After that Dylan and Olivia were let out so they could wander the yard together as is their favorite pasttime. They really are a pair! Where one goes, the other is rarely far away. As I saw several times today, Dylan likes to give Olivia "quick scrub and brush-ups" with his tongue. Olivia seems to like it. One of Olivia's favorite standing spots seems to be right outside one of the chicken pens next to the well pump. Of course only Olivia knows for sure why it's a good spot, but I have a suspicion that it's because it's a major footpath intersection and it's also a good place to view almost all farm activity. If the sanctuary is destined to have a "Grande Dame" it just might be Olivia.

This was a day of coop cleaning. Three coops. Out with the old, in with the new, everybody's happy.

There are three new chickens who, having been recently rescued, aren't doing as well as the others. Any of the three may make it, or they may not. They're isolated from the other chickens right now by a small fence. They have their own food, water, and heat lamp.

I also helped Morgan nail down a tarp to the roof of a hen house, fed pellets to the pigs, fed Dylan and Olivia several times, fed two bales of hay to Ralphie, Andy and Elvis, cleaned up an animal carrier that was donated to the farm, gave Moby a mush on the head and that was about it for the day.

Got a very nice card and some sprigs from Sheila who left to return home to Scotland earlier this week. (Hi Sheila! Everybody's cleaned, fed, watered, and warm!)

"Robin" is a new person at the farm. She looked to be late high school or early college age. Her and Jen were mugging Olivia in the barn for a quick hoof trim when last I saw them together.

More barn raising this Sunday. A great deal of work was done on the second story of the barn on MLK Day and all seems to be going smoothly.

Again, a quiet day.


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