cows in field

Message from the NODPA Co-President

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board Co-President

It has been a full year that both farmers and consumers have rolled with the COVID challenges. Virtual weddings and funerals, Zoom calls, kids studying at home. Well, you know. Farmers were encouraged to have an emergency plan if COVID took out their work force; I looked around at our situation. Three family members and a devoted girlfriend. No hired help, no local family. So when we all tested positive for the virus in early February, we knew we just had to bull through it.

Overwhelming exhaustion was the worst symptom, so we did the milking and chores in the morning and slept for the afternoon, repeating the milking and chores at night. We quarantined ourselves, sanitized everything in the milkhouse that the driver might touch before every milk pickup. We got through it, thankfully. Then we started seeing some pneumonia in some of the cows and a few calves. Now, several times over the years, family members arrived with a cold when they visited for the holidays. A few days after they were gone, animals started coughing. We knew that it was possible for sick people to transmit some viruses across species. Was this what was happening this year?

As with the human population, some of the sicker ones made sense: they were animals that had pneumonia before, or were substantially frailer than their herdmates, or under greater stress than others. Most of the herd appeared unaffected. But several of the cows that showed clinical signs of pneumonia needed multiple doses of Inforce 3 and Vitamin C before recovering; one animal did not recover. As researchers are just really getting a grip on how this virus moves through human populations, it’s just not on anyone’s radar to look at how it might move into livestock. But my suspicion is that it can.

The warmth of the sun helps us shake off the long winter, and although most weather forecasters predict a dry year again, the recent rains have greened up the pastures and hay fields. Spring promises it’s season of rebirth and abundance. From all of us, we wish you health and prosperity this season!