Sometime during the night, the cows and calves of the main herd decided to cross the river to lounge and nibble in a small field near the county road.
This field just happens to be across the road from the bull pen where we have five yearling bulls that are simply itching to make friends with some females. We heard the snuffling and snorting well before sunrise and knew exactly what was going on before we got out of bed.
Electric fences keep everyone separated and away from the log trucks, motorcycles, bicycles and commuter traffic that travel between the two groups of critters.
The calves are all bunched into gangs that usually correlate with their ages. The youngest three calves typically hang together so the bigger ones don’t pick on them although the spunky ones break the boundaries to practice head butting and chasing. Continue reading
Our next hoodwinking pair is Marlo and Phil. Marlo is one of our more senior cows and has had four years of calving before now so knows all the good places to stash a newborn while she meanders for her daily grazing, which is just what she did for three days. We could see that she was supplying milk for a baby but could not find the little one. Marlo would walk us in circles through the woods, through brushy thickets, around the fence line keeping the herd out of the 16 acre field and down the old railroad grade. She refused to show the baby, even when we moved the main herd (sans the three who delivered with her included). Continue reading
Our main herd of cows across the river have been giving us clues that it is time to move them to new grazing areas. Some of the more mature, senior cows stand at the fence line longingly looking toward greener pastures. But before we moved the herd there was a little housekeeping in the veterinary sense that needed to be taken care of. The older calves have ear tags already and now there are five more that are old enough to get their own number. Continue reading
We moved the cow/calf pairs into the barn and picked out the four oldest calves of the season to attach eartags. At this age, the calves are fairly easy to wrangle so we did not have to worry that it would turn into a rodeo, it was a quick catch, clip and release. We did not put tags in all the calves because the weight of the tags is enough to permanently droop tender ears.
The yellow tags are numbered and we will be on the lookout to see which baby nurses from which mother so we can document the number to verify lineage. This is important both for our registration records and because we already have a cow/calf pair that is sold and will be picked up next week to go to a farm by Hood River.
The barn cats have found the dwindling haystack to be the best vantage point to watch me as I do the chores in the show barn.
One moment they are all poised for a picture and the next a rogue feline will scurry and dart, up and down, through and around, upsetting the tiered balance.
The air pockets between bales make good hidey-holes for sneak attacks. The frantic chase game has been known to startle the two calves, HeartThrob and Cloud who then run willy-nilly out of the barn and into the open pasture away from the cat skirmishes.
The three calves are growing like crazy and look forward to eating hay when we feed. They are learning to be more independent from their mothers and like to hang out together.
The mothers are still very cautious and there is always one not too far away in case one of the calves gets into mischief, meanders too far from the group, or if the coyotes begin to hang around. The mothers take turns with babysitting duties between feedings.
Christmas Carol is still smaller than the two bulls but she is eating well and putting on weight. All three are now running and have learned to kick up their heels without falling over. The bulls, Bluff and Blaze are prone to stick their nose in the hay before eating in an attempt to fight with the pile by pushing it around.
The three new calves are having a wonderful time getting to know their world and bonding with their mothers in the hay field turned nursery field.
The babies are beginning to display personality traits. Christmas Carol (the smallest and oldest) loves to lag behind so she can run full tilt to catch up and run circles around the other babies and all the mothers. She has learned to twitch her tail and kick up her heels while getting warmed up for a run. (In this picture she is on the far right). Continue reading