Friday, May 26, 2006

Larger family

Well, as of today, we are up to 75% in the calf department. The total would be four boys and 2 girls. That is not exactly what we were hoping for, but they are all well and the births were uneventful. The colors are interesting. The bull is black with a white belt. The heifers were either black with white faces or just black. They produces one with a white face, one with a white on his face, two with partial belts, one all black, and born last --- one brown calf with a full belt and white on his face.

They are all named after characters in the Charlie Brown comic strip. Charlie was born first - black with white on face. Schroeder was next - black with partial white belt. Sally was next - black with partial white belt. Then came Spike - black with a white face. Next came Peppermint Patti - all black. Last came Pig Pen - brown with white belt and white on face.

They are a cool group. It is fun to watch them race around the pasture with tails held high. It is also very interesting to watch how the mothers keep track of their own calf. Some of them are very consistent and others seem to care a lot less. Twice now I have seen a calf nursing on a mother that is not his real mother. I am a little worried about Schroeder. He does not seem as lively as he was at the beginning, and he has been nursing on another mother.

Out of all of those six calves, I have yet to see a calf born. Jake and I sat in the barn with Poppy for over an hour and waited while she labored. We went into to the house just to eat and when I went back out there, Spike was on the ground and getting a good licking my his new mom. I think that she planned it that way. Pig Pen was born on a wet morning, and even though that was a name that hadn't been used, by the next morning he had lived up to it. His nose was covered with mud and so was his side where his white belt was. I didn't even know until the other day that he has one white foot. His feet had been covered with mud. He is a cute big boy.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


We now have four calves. Three boys and one girl. That is 50% since we have 8 cows who could have calved. The way it looks we should have at least one more. That could be the end of it. The calves are all black and white. The two that came out of our Hereford/Holstein crosses have white heads and black bodies. The other two have white on their sides with the rest black. It is really nice to look out at the pasture and see the cows and their calves.

Now as to motherhood (since Mother's Day is this weekend)-------It would seem that all cows have a somewhat different idea of what their role is in the whole process. Although all of them do the basic stuff, they don't all follow through the same. Violet is the best mother. She is always sure that Charlie is nearby. She keeps real good track of him. Pepper was a real protective mom in the barn, but is kind of ho-hum outside. Fuzzy, on the other hand, is down right neglectful of poor Sally. Here she had the only heifer, and she leaves her laying out in the field and just goes about her business. Today Sally was left in the lean-to with Schroeder after their mothers had finished their afternoon naps and gone outside. Now who would just leave two darling little calves like that? Poppy is still in the barn with yesterday's calf. We will see how she cares for Spike when they go outside at the end of the week. It is certainly an interesting thing to watch.

The sheep on the other hand is downright paranoid about her babies. She keeps a tight rein on them. She is watching over them very well. It is fun to watch how they interact. The lambs are venturing further from her as the days go by, but anyting strange sends them bleating and scampering back to their mom. Today they spent more of the day outside in the rain. When I fed Mom in the evening, the little ones were as dry as could be. I guess the rain did not hurt them. Their wool was still curly. I sure wish I knew their secret. My hair can't do that.

All in all, spring is really a miracle here. The birth of all these critters is a positive lift that can't be beat. Being a woman, I was never an observer at a birth or post-birth observance. I like it and marvel at it. It has been a inspiring experience for me.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

More highlights

I know; I haven't posted in a very long time. That is not to say that nothing has been going on around here. In the last week we have had two lambs and two calves. It has been a hoot.

Last Tuesday about 4:30 in the afternoon, Ami gave us twin lambs. The boy is all black with just a few white hairs on his head. The girl has two while stockings on her back feet, a white head with black eye rings, black tips on her ears and two spots at the corners of her mouth. She also has a tiny white feather on her tail. They are both healthy, and their mother knew exactly what to do throughout the whole thing. I am totally impressed. They are getting friendly and let me scratch their necks when they come up to me with their mother.

Sunday morning there was a calf in the lean-to. It belonged to Violet; she is one of the four flower girls that we first planned to start a cow-calf operation with. Charlie is a funny little guy. He is all black except for his face which looks like someone took a brush and just slopped black paint all over it. It is so cool. He is calm and cool and able to be handled because his mother is also able to be handled.

Today was another story. As I drove up the hill away from the farm, I saw that one cow was all by herself at the far end of the pasture. I turned around and went back. When I checked on her, I could see that something was going on. She mowed like crazy when she saw me. I checked her two more times at about half hour intervals. Then the next time I went out there, I saw a flash of white in the alalfa field. Her newborn calf was out in the field. No wonder she was mowing. When the calf laid down, he was invisible. I went out there and got him back in with his mother, and later got both of them into the lean on the barn. That is where they are now.

We are still waiting for Poppy to calf. She is ready. Now we have another space crunch. The calf was out of the field up by the barn, and can't be left outside until he is sure to stay in the enclosure. Jake has to come up with a new plan tonight.