We are caring for an injured mama cow. We’re not sure what happened, but she started limping about two weeks ago, taking care to not put any weight on her back left leg. We called the vet, thinking she had foot rot–a fungus that can cause painful sores on the hoof, but after giving her a thorough hoof cleaning, clipping and check-up he found nothing. “I’m worried it could be something physiological,” he had said.

“Something physiological” sounds awfully vague and pretty scary to a beginning farmer like myself. So we locked her in the barnyard with some fresh hay and water which was effectively like sending her to bed for a little R & R.

Fast forward a few days and the poor thing can’t get up anymore. She’s lying upright and rocks back and forth as if she wants to stand, but then settles back down again, obviously frustrated with her inability to move. We called the vet out again to see if he could better diagnose the problem.

This time he said she must have a pinched nerve in the hip that is making her back leg useless. It could be that the almost full-term calf inside her could be pressing against a nerve. Or, it might be a “physiological injury” for which there may be no cure. He gave her a shot to get her labor started, with the hopes that we can assist her in giving birth, save the calf and hopefully relieve the pressure on her nerve.

Or, we might save the calf and have to put her down.

Or, we might lose them both.

In the meantime, I am visiting her every 1.5 hours, taking fresh cool water to her to drink, bathing her with a little water to cool her down (she’s lying in the open sun), and bringing her hay to eat. It’s the least we can do to keep her comfortable until her labor begins. Please wish us luck.