Cow #2 is on the small side. Even early on she has always been smaller than the other calves the same age. She was always healthy, just not a vigorous eater and therefor not a vigorous grower. She was bred last year and was due to calve in early March. As she progressed into labor, we moved her into the barn so we could monitor her progress.
I hung around the barn area to keep an eye on her hoping that nature would take its course. When I could see only a nose beginning to emerge without any feet (usually the first to appear) I knew she was in trouble. I had sent word to Mike across the field that he was needed and I moved into the pen with the cow. By the time Mike was there, I was elbow deep trying to find the front legs. I could only find one.
A birthing chain was attached to the leg I found and we began the slow easing pull to assist with the delivery. Once the head and one hoof was forward the delicate search for the other leg between contractions began. The other leg had been tucked toward the back end of the calf and I was able to straighten it forward and we helped deliver the calf into the world. It was apparent immediately that the calf did not survive the long delivery.
We gave the cow time to clean her baby, expel her afterbirth, and realize that her offspring had perished before moving her out of the barn and into a small pasture for recovery time. Once we had cleaned the barn and removed the baby, we brought the cow back in to load her into the stock trailer so #2 could spend quality time with the show cows and get pampered for a few months.
The reunion of the show barn cows with #2 included a lot of bellowing, snorting and dancing around and #2 is very happy with getting two feedings a day plus grain to get her back to her optimal weight. Just in the short time she has now been with the show cows, her hair is becoming glossy and she is gaining weight. She is always the first one in when I go out to feed the cows and eats more than her share.
Perhaps the name of this post should be that she was caught red tailed.
I was gathering up the herd to feed them for the evening chores when I noticed one heifer who found the best spot to take care of an itch.
She had backed up to a vine maple branch that was sticking through the woven wire fence that swooped into a u-shape. It was just the right height to get her tail over the branch so she could rock back and forth on her legs to scratch her back end under her tail.
When I abruptly came through the gate and startled her, she jumped then froze in place with the branch still between her tail and back side. She looked rather sheepish as if she was caught doing something naughty but then started back enjoying her good scratch. I rounded up the rest of the herd and moved them in the right direction, the calf toddled along later, after she had satiated her need for relief.
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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.
I had spread out a bunch of fresh, dry wood chips inside the barn to make a soft clean spot for the new baby, and the chips clung to every wet spot on the newborn (which was everywhere).
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
We have been observing our most-pregnant cow, Topanga. This is usually done from the backside of her since that gives us the best clue on her progress.
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.
Little Dial was standing right in the middle with spruce, maple, alder and dogwood seedlings that made her look like a giant.
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.
The newest member of the herd arrived on Monday 3/18/17, he was delivered to #89 Marlo and weighed in at 75 lbs.
We knew Marlo was about due, when we fed the rest of the main herd she was missing from the count. We found her safe and sound up along the old railroad grade. with her calf by her side. The underbrush was a little hard to walk around for the newborn, but the tall timbers kept most of the rain off while the tall banks of the grade made a nice windbreak.
We fed Marlo some hay and left the pair to bond while we fed the main herd further out in the field so they could have quality mommy/baby time.