Our One Eyed Girl Aurora
We were nearing the end of Covid Lockdown in April 2020 when we noticed one of our cows, our eleven-year- old Aurora, appeared to have a sore eye. Initially, we struggled to identify the problem as every time we tried to look at it, she turned her head away. Eventually we did manage to see the eye and knew straight away we had a major problem.
I took a photo of the bad eye and sent it to Wairarapa vets. Immediately, they contacted us and confirmed that it was a major problem. She was unlikely to be able to see out of the eye, and it looked like they may have to remove it.
The penny dropped as to why she always turned her head as we neared. She was looking at us with the only good eye she could see us with.
The Vet arranged to come the next day and take a closer look. As soon as he saw her eye, he decided then and there that the eye needed to be removed immediately as she was most likely in a lot of discomfort.
He gave her an anaesthetic to put her into a sleep, and she teetered for a few seconds before eventually succumbing and going down. The vet then asked my partner George if he could hold her head while he did the operation. “How long will that take?”, George asked, thinking how am I going to hold that heavy head up for any length of time. “About 20-30 minutes” the vet replied to which George immediately uttered – “no way!” Off he went to find a strop to take the weight. The vet laughed saying, “I love working with farm people, they always come up with ingenious solutions to problems.”
While George was away, the vet decided he would run through with me all the things that could possibly go wrong during the operation. I won’t go in to detail, but I can assure you there was quite a few. As you can imagine, by the time George returned with the strop I was becoming a nervous wreck.
Together, the vet and George hoisted Aurora’s head into a workable position. George decided to stay and assist, but I couldn’t watch. I headed for the safety of our house, where I could see from the window our other moos in a nearby paddock who were just as concerned as I was. One of their fold had been taken from them and they knew something wasn’t right. Why was she in the yards, and what was that stranger doing to her? Throughout the operation, they never left the fence line trying to catch a glimpse of what was happening to their paddock mate.
After about twenty minutes or so, I could hear laughter coming from the yards. Whew I thought, that had to be a good sign. I ventured out to our yards to see how things went. ‘’Perfect” was the vet’s reply. The operation was a success and the eye has been safely removed.
Over the next 5-10 minutes, Aurora started slowly coming around from the anaesthetic. The whole side of her face was black and blue and swollen, with a lot of help from a large dollop of iodine, but the stitching looked good and the vet was confident of a full recovery.
We kept Aurora in the calf paddock for a couple more days, where we could continue to keep an eye on her and ensure she was recovering as expected.
Day 2, we noticed a mucousy discharge was coming from her eye and the stitching looked like it may be starting to split open. Again, we phoned the Wairarapa vet, who like the rest of the country, were still in lockdown. They arranged to leave some antibiotic for us that we could pick up contactless, in a secret place they were using during Covid. George hopped on his motorbike and made a dash over the Remutaka Hill from our block in Whiteman’s Valley to the Wairarapa to pick up the antibiotic.
Immediately, we started the course of antibiotics and the discharge quickly cleared up, the stitching closed and our old Aurora started to re-emerge. It wasn’t long before she was looking for treats and allowing us to brush and cuddle her again.
We returned her to her paddock mates where we discovered a bonus of her only having one eye. At feed out time, Aurora was always the bossy one, looking for who had the biggest pile of bailage, upsetting the equilibrium by stealing another cow’s pile if she thought it wasn’t her. These days, we always feed her on the end with her good eye looking away from the fold. She can only see her pile so leaves the others alone to get on with eating theirs in peace. Problem solved.
12 months on, Aurora is just one of the fold again, demanding our attention as always.The vet has to be commended for doing such a good job of the stitching.If you look really hard, it’s like she just has one eye shut and it’s hard to even notice she is our one-eyed girl.