In the last year I’ve become a little too familiar with DARS, the Dead Animal Removal Service. The Dead Truck, in local parlance. The dispatcher always calls you “hon” on the phone. The driver of the truck hauling the trailer with stiff limbs sticking out the top is a college kid who navigates with GPS on his IPhone. A great service. I’m glad it’s there. Just wish I never had to use it.
But I do today. Again. Number 23, a cow I really could never stand, got sick suddenly, and now she’s gone.
On Sunday I watched her drinking from the tank and thought she looked great. On Monday I found her wandering far from the herd and had a weird wild look in her eyes. Tuesday she laid down and couldn’t get up. This morning, Wednesday, I had my neighbor Dave come shoot her and drag her out for the dead truck.
Tuesday might have been the day to do something, but can’t really beat myself up about it. I had no way to get her loaded onto a trailer, and the vet would have charged a fortune, if I could have gotten him to come out. Standing a 1200-pound animal up in the mud on a slope would have been a hell of a chore.
So she is gone. She was from the original five cow/calf pairs I bought a couple years back, and she was by far the worst. Nervous and unpredictable, I could never walk near her without being on my guard. She had very low status in the herd, and always ate last. And something happened to her calf this summer. Either she miscarried, or had it and lost it in the tall grass to coyotes. Whatever happened, she didn’t “clean up” well, and dragged that placenta around for a couple of weeks. I speculate that she slipped the calf she was carrying this winter, but my neighbors don’t think that is likely. Her udders were massive, and would have led to problems down the road. I was going to see if she could calf one more time and then sell her, but never got the chance.
I allow myself sometimes to indulge in anthropomorphic comparisons with my cows. Number 19 is a fearless, intelligent cow, but as a mother leaves much to be desired. She is a fallen woman from a country western song, in love with dim lights, thick smoke, and loud loud music. Or to bring things up to date, would be most likely to become a crack whore. Numbers 25 and 119 are solid citizen cows, even temperament, attentive mothers. Number 23, may she rest in peace, was a good mother cow, fiercely protective of her calves, but nervous to a fault. She would be the mother most likely to develop a Zoloft habit. Her calf from last year inherited her crabby disposition and her propensity for causing trouble. She managed to get pregnant by a bull that was left with the herd a little too long, and actually became an underage mother, delivering a runty calf in September to the surprise of everyone, including (I think) herself. She would have nothing to do with that calf.
All this trouble I trace back to the problematic Number 23. And yet I feel like I’ve done her a bad karmic turn. I was pretty much helpless to do much of anything, but I still feel awful about leaving her in the mud to die.
So, I will say that I am deeply sorry.
Here’s hoping DARS comes in a timely manner. Last year, when my donkeys died, it took five days for the dead truck to come.