Thanksgiving Day started out routinely. The cows went through the milking procedure without balking. It was only when I was feeding hay after the milking that I noticed a few suspicious splotches of blood, looked around, and saw that the left rear quarter of the teat of the cow I'd recently retrieved from Willits had exploded. It had literally blown like a volcano.
If I'd had an appetite for Thanksgiving Dinner, it was gone. I was grateful there were still a few cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon hanging around the barn. Never in my life had I encountered anything so unappetizing--not since I'd once discovered a 68 year-old friend of mine dead four days after a heart attack in the triple digit heat of Ukiah in June.
The veterinarians I'd consulted had assured me the left rear quarter would simply dry up, and eventually atrophy, since no milk would pass through the teat. I'd already written this cow off as a three titter, and was letting her calf suck a good three gallons per day, cleaning out the other three quarters. What more could I do? Most of Thanksgiving Day I thought she was going to die of some infection, and wondered why accidents like this had to happen on days when you couldn't get medical help. The previous Thanksgiving, incidentally, my blue heeler bitch had returned to the barn in the afternoon with a gushing gash on her right front paw. She'd been bleeding so profusely that I'd thought I was losing her, right about one o’clock on Thanksgiving afternoon when the whole country was at dinner. I'd tried tying some gauze around her bleeding leg, but she'd turned full Dingo on me and bared her teeth, nearly biting off my right hand. I thought she was a goner. But luckily she healed eventually.
Maybe so with this cow, I thought. What the hell was I going to do? Tranquilize her and try to sew her udder shut? That might do more harm than good. Anyway, she seemed to be feeling better. She was devouring the hay and her left rear quarter was no longer under pressure. It had deflated. The calf was sucking at the other three like nothing had happened.
I had to skip Thanksgiving Dinner. I declined numerous invitations. I had never seen anything more disgusting in my life. All I was in the mood for was some beer. Liquid was all I could stomach. Everything has turned out okay, though. It's been five days and the cow still has an active appetite. Her once-inflated left hind quarter udder has shriveled like a raisin. She's okay. The wound is filling with scar tissue.
This morning I ate breakfast. I think I'm going to be okay.