Gauge and Dial

Mother Black Angus cow with newborn calf.We have been watching #64, SAF Gauge for a month. She was showing all the signs of impending birth, but she was not ready.

Each day we would check her and each day would have the same conclusion of ‘any time now’.

Finally 4/19/17 SAF Dial was born, the heifer weighed in at 61 lbs. This baby was definitely not overdue, or she would have weighed 80 lbs. Gauge had fooled us the whole time.

Dial was born in the middle of the main herd. I was halfway across the field when I heard Gauge let out one loud bellow, the calf was expelled and plopped into the pasture grass. The rest of the herd danced around with snorting and bellowing of their own. Some of the other calves were running circles around the herd. Everyone was very excited.

Dial was standing up and eating within 15 minutes of birth. The excitement around her her had quieted down as I coaxed the rest of the herd to eat their hay on the other side of the river.

Peach and Respect

Peach, who was born on January 3 and Respect, who was born on March 25 are getting along wonderfully well. Peach has been showing Respect how to sleep outside in the pasture, chase birds and as shown in this picture, eat hay from the manger.

Two young calves eating hay in the manger.Peach grabs large clumps of hay while Respect is still nibbling on stem at a time, but soon both will come into the barn at feeding time as quickly as their mothers do.

Respect tries to show his dominance as a bull when around Peach. He will scuffle and bump heads. Peach takes it good-naturedly and just pushes him aside when she tires of his game.

Seeing Double

Cow #7 had a surprise for me this morning as I headed across the river to feed the main herd and the cow/calf pairs in the nursery field.

Black Angus cow with twin calves.#7 had just successfully delivered twin bull calves and was busy trying to figure out exactly what was going on while she cleaned the pair. I missed the birth by less than an hour when I found her with her double delivery.

I was solely in charge of the farm on this day and it took quite a bit of effort to get the family out of the wet, rainy pasture and up to the barn. #7 was not mean but she sure was confused about the newborns and why I was haltering herĀ  babies and moving around in her space while she was trying to deliver and clean up her afterbirth. Continue reading

The Nature of Nature

Teats and bag of a Black Angus cow.Imagine a garden hose that has the inner rubber lining thinning and causing the outer wraps of the hose to expand and grow larger than the intended diameter. Some cows experience that same kind of deterioration.

The cow #7 is 7 years old and she has ‘boobular’ issues. The underlying structure of her teats has broken down as she has been maturing. During the summer and winter months the issue is not a problem, but during calving, her large bag and even bigger teats tend to drag in the mud and the muck leaving a most undesirable dinner plate for newborns. In addition, the extra large teats are quite cumbersome for newborns to maneuver around to get a solid grip for a satisfying meal.

Normally, we would cull this animal from the herd because of the extra care needed to keep her and her calf healthy. #7 has shown herself to be of good gentle disposition where we can get her moved from pen to field easily and she is a wonderful mother who has raised several really good calves that have been sold with a nice profit. She has earned her keep even with the extra work.

It may still be several days, but #7 was looking like she was getting close to calving so we moved her out into the nursery field with the other mothers with babies so that her bag could get cleaned up before she calved. We may still have to help her newborn learn to nurse from the ‘balloon boobs’, but at least they will be clean when she does decide to deliver.


Catching Moisture

One of the reasons we don’t house the main herd inside the barn during the winter is the need for clean, thawed water for the animals.

Ice in buckets that are collecting drips from barn roof.The main herd is across the river and there is no electricity over there. No lights in the barn and no way to get water.

The cows are able to free roam to the spring in the far back of the place, to drink from the spring that breaks out along the hillside, or go down to the river for water.

The one cow and calf that we have in the barn,with access to the nursery field, do have a water tub inside the barn and we have to pack buckets of water to replenish as needed. A cow will drink 10-15 gallons of water a day, milking cows may drink up to twice that amount to be able to continue producing a healthy supply of milk to their calves.

We have had quite a bit a snow that was on the roof of the barn, so we placed buckets and tubs along the drip line of barn. Most days, once the sun came out, the buckets would fill during the day and we could dump them inside for the cow to drink.

When the temps dip down into the low teens, as they have in the last week, the collecting tubs at the drip line and the water tub inside are all frozen solid. We have resorted to hauling buckets full of hot water down the driveway, across the county road, along toward the river, over the bridge, across the pasture to the barn and through two gates to replenish the water supply.

Weather forecasters are calling for a warming trend next week…until then, I’ll be packing.

New Assignment For Tank

It has been quite a life for Tank, the little calf born to Chardonnay.

Our loaner herd of four cows had been happily grazing at the neighbor farm to assist the farmer manage the overgrown grass in the pastures around his place. That was 17 months ago.

Chardonnay was pregnant when we moved her to be loaned. She has had nine calves already and was well-seasoned in the art of delivering beautiful, healthy babies. With all the spring grass she could eat, she delivered a beast of a baby and we named him Tank. He was born on June 1st and weighed 87 lbs. He was the largest calf born from our herd in 2015. An he was born hungry, he thrived on the loaner farm with Chardonnay giving lots of milk and the continuing grass supply. Continue reading

Next Batch of Weaning

The process for a calf to go from their mothers side to be ready for sale is about a month, if all goes smoothly.

Currently, another five calves have had their green weaners inserted, that was four days ago. Today we move them away from the herd into their own barn and will remove the green nose clips.

Since they are across the river, we will use the stock trailer to move them over the bridge to cross the water and the county road. The amazing amount of rain we have had this month may mean that the tractor will be hooked to the trailer so the pickup does not sink in the soft turf around the pastures and barns.

The calves will be housed for a few weeks in the show barn with limited pasture so that I will be able to keep an eye on their progress learning about the head gates (stanchions), eating hay from the manger, and spoiling them with slices of sweet fall apples.

These animals have already been spoken for. We have received their official registration papers from the American Angus Association and will be getting their vet check in the next week or two along with tattoos in their ears for identification. Once these items have been complete, they will be headed off to a farm on the other side of Portland.