In the late afternoon on Christmas as we were doing the evening chores, we noticed #49, Nyad, straining. We had been watching her for the last couple of days since she was nearing the time when she could calve and was beginning to show signs. Her back end was getting swollen and her bag was starting to fill out. Continue reading
We used to have a good share of fence jumpers, pacers, cranky cows and everyday bedlam. Over the years we have weeded out those traits to some degree and the calmer, less volatile and not-so- headstrong critters have made the farm an easier and safer place to be for people and for cows.
Bull calf #33 did not get the memo. #33 is nearing weaning age and has decided that this one fenced barnyard is HIS pasture. He has taken to simply pushing through the two-wire electric fence to go in and eat his fill of the grass that nobody else can get to.
The rest of the herd respects this fence. This guy does not seem bothered to get a jolt as he steps over the bottom barb wire and wiggles under the top white wire tape. He does give a little jump (this fence is run by small solar power unit and not high voltage) when he gets the current, but still every day, he is exactly where he is not supposed to be. He has snapped off insulators, and broken wires during his break-ins and break-outs.
His days of freedom are numbered. We will be weaning him this week and then he will be moved across the river to do time with the big guys (those calves that were weaned last month). When in the bull pen, it won’t take long realize the fence is more stout with a considerable kick it he messes with it. We are hoping the new memo is heeded.
My week of being in charge of the farm mostly worked around my play schedule. While Mike was away I happened to have a day that I needed to go into town to take a saw in for repair and got a haircut while I was out and about. I attended a landowner meeting. I spent one day with my Aunt and going to writing class. And even enjoyed an evening with my book reading group.
When Mike is away, I seem to find time to do all the fun things that I usually don’t get around to.
But when it was time for me to head into Portland to pick Mike up at the airport, a heifer began the first stages of labor. I had planned on doing the evening chores early to go get Mike. When I got to the first barn, one heifer did not come in to eat with the rest of the group. I found #47, Stormy, on the far side of the barn with a tip of one hoof of her calf sticking out.
Knowing that heifers are notorious for taking their sweet time with a first delivery, I enlisted the help of my sister and brother-in-law to collect Mike while I awaited the birth.
While Mike was on the plane, Stormy delivered a healthy heifer calf. Welcome to the farm Sky, born 3/29/2018 and weighing in at 73 lbs.
The new mother wanted to clean the calf off but she was unsure about the whole procedure. Several times she simply pressed her nose into the baby’s fur and sniffed deeply to get a good whiff of this brand new creature. Mother and baby are doing fine and have been moved with the other two cow/calf pair out in the pasture.
After getting moved into the nursery field a week ago, Pressure finally delivered a healthy bull calf.
It was a cold snowy morning and the ground had been stomped clear of snow. The baby wanted to lay down but the spot was wet and muddy. Pressure had her baby all licked off but with the biting wind we decided to move the pair into the barn for a day. The respite from the elements give time for the baby to get dried off with a relatively warm, clean pen and treat Pressure to a couple of hearty meals without having to worry if the other calves are going to bother her baby. Continue reading
Topanga seems to be the instigator when it comes to leading groups of cows through the river to graze along the far banks. As she gets closer to calving, the odds increase that she would deliver her baby while on the wrong side of the river.
To curtail her dangerous activities, we have separated Topanga from the rest of the herd. She is now sequestered in the hay field that we locked all the other cows out of. Topanga has sole dominion over 36 acres of short grass, fresh running water through every swale, trees along the fence and the barn is open to eat as much hay as she wants while getting out of the elements. Right now she seems to prefer the outdoor life even when it is still raining and only goes in the barn when she wants to eat.
Just how close she is to calving is still a mystery. It looks like she can deliver at any time. She lost her mucus plug yesterday and that usually indicates less than a week of gestation left.
Now that we separated Topanga from the rest of the herd, no one has crossed the fast flowing river and she doesn’t seem to mind solitary confinement. For that matter, I would not be opposed to time out if I was pampered as much as she is.
Our 4/19/17 calf Dial, has been growing steadily and enjoys being right in the middle of the herd.
The other day I noticed Dial away from most of the cows, it looked like she was trying to hide in a clump of trees. near some old stumps. These happened to be seedlings that we had planted along the ditch that runs to the river. The seedlings were planted at the same time we were filling in plants in the riparian area.
The plants were not harmed in anyway by the little visitor, in fact she left a little fertilizer for the trees before she left.
Nothing appeared unusual when we looked toward the three outdoor feeders. Upon a closer look we noticed one of the calves had figured out that he could reach hay easier if he simply just stepped inside the feeder.
This calf had been sneaking into the feeders over the last week, but I had not caught him at it until this day. He is pretty good at keeping the operation undercover, he only stays in long enough to grab some good bites that was left from the herd and then he steps back out before laying down or pooping inside the feeder.
When he noticed us looking at him, he casually stepped out and meandered over to the herd like nothing had happened.