Feb 18, 2009

The hidden costs of dairying

There are costs of running a dairy that simply cannot be represented on a spreadsheet. It is easy to tabulate items such as feed, fences and yogurt flavorings. The physical toll is harder to compute. We all gear up for kidding season, we are prepared to go without sleep in order to attend births and bottle feed babies. This we anticipate and can prepare for. The rewards are great and we share them when we can, posting pictures on the blog and bringing babies to market. The hardest costs to shoulder are the emotional ones like we faced this morning.

Monday Sonnet had two doelings. We were SO excited, had been looking forward to this kidding ever since we bought Sonnet last April. One of the doelings was noticeably more weak and shaky when they were found. (We try to be at each birth but Sonnet pulled a fast one on us and we found them already on the ground.) She was chilled and didn't take to a bottle at all. We figured that she had a rougher start and would just need a little bit of help getting going. After 48 hours of tube or syringe feeding her and other such intensive hands-on care we had to recognize the truth, that she wasn't getting better or stronger but was instead getting worse. She was exhibiting signs not only of neurologic issues but also a strengthening pneumonia despite prophalactic antibiotics. It was evident that things were going downhill and obviously that there wasn't going to be the rally that we had expected.

So we put her down to end her suffering.

The rewards in this business are so many that sometimes it seems a joke that we get paid for such a fantastic job! To get to spend the mornings cuddling new babies and watching them bounce around like they have springs in their legs is just the best. To then get to go and hear positive response to our products is just icing on the cake and getting paid to do all of the above? Well...that is job satisfaction that I can't imagine being paralleled in any other profession.

To have to grapple with the evidence that despite getting up and syringe feeding every couple of hours around the clock that this sweet-faced baby in your lap isn't getting better is so hard. To have to cradle that kid in your arms as you walk out to put it down is worse. What kind of pay scale compensates for that?

I apologize for such a depressing topic, but when we started this blog, it was with the intent to share a window into our lives for all those who ask what it is like to live our lives. So there you have it...the window into today doesn't have the best view.


Tiffany said...

I'm sorry about your doeling. We had a doeling born last kidding season that had the same issues and we finally had to put her down three days after the birth. Very tough!

Dee said...

I'm sorry :(