Back in May, I mentioned a calf “as big as two calves” was born on my parents farm but wasn’t doing so well. I thought you might like an update on the calf’s progress. Whenever this particular calf is mentioned, my mother says “Lazarus!” and throws her eyes up to heaven. So that’s what he is known as now.
Lazarus didn’t stand up after he was born. And he didn’t feed properly either. My parents thought he might have been injured during the birth because of his size. But there were no obvious signs of injury and no explanation for his lack of movement or feeding.
The mother cow tried to coax Lazarus to feed but he just lay on the ground and didn’t respond to her. After a first bottle feed didn’t go so well, my father had to resort to “tube feeding” the calf. A tube is inserted down the calf’s throat directly into his stomach and the milk is poured slowly in. This really is a last resort when it comes to feeding. It is traumatic and dangerous for the calf and the farmer doesn’t enjoy it either! Lazarus had to undergo a number of tube feeds just to keep him alive in those early days. Meanwhile, my mother was sprinkling him with holy water and (she has just admitted) she put some in his milk too!
When Lazarus was 3 days old and there was no change in his situation, both my parents thought the end was nigh and they were beginning to accept that Lazarus would not survive. Remember, at this stage he hadn’t stood up or fed by himself and he should have done both within half an hour of his birth.
During the 3rd day, my mother walked into the shed and Lazarus was standing up. She stood watching as the mother cow moved over and positioned herself at the best angle for Lazarus to feed. Eventually he figured out what he should be doing and began to feed naturally from his mother. My father got the phone call he didn’t think he would get, telling him the calf was walking and feeding.
So as I write this today, both Lazarus and his mother are out wandering around a field in the west of Ireland, enjoying the summer rain and wet juicy green grass.