We all need a little down time, that moment or two throughout the day to kick up a heel or do a little jig. Those carefree moments can seem to transport us from a day of slogging through the rain, to light and carefree exuberance. Babies of all species learn from those times of wild gyrations or wiggly movements, new muscles are being worked while balance and new abilities are forged.
The younger calves in the nursery field are testing their strength with each other by touching heads and trying to push each other out of the way. They try messing with the bigger calf and even the mom’s in the field, with the larger animals ignoring the little ones attempts to bother them. The calves love to run toward the Gator when we are driving out in the field and fly their tales high in the air as they come flying across the pasture.
The newest baby in the nursery field is KAOS, now just a week old now and can be seen chomping on a single spear of hay during meal time. It is still more important to grab a few slugs of milk from his mother #99 than eating solid food, but he is getting the idea that when there is food being placed in the field it is time to eat.
At mealtime when we throw out slabs of hay, the babies spend time nosing around and sometimes fighting the hay in an attempt to outwit the pile that fluffs into loose hay as the calf flips it around. Once it is broken into a loose pile rather than a stiff slab, the calf changes tactics and flops down in the hay to enjoy the soft downy pile.
It was a gray, rainy day that I happened to get a few pictures of Hopper who was having a grand time scooting around a slab of hay and trying to work it into submission. He was not troubled by the muddy ground, the rain coming down or any other creatures out in the field. He was busy taking time to play in the rain.
You will have to go to SchmidlinAngusFarms to see the pictures since this site is nearly out of data space. Thank you for following my stories and all the farm adventures.
The next batch of calves to be weaned now have their green weaner clips installed and are comfortably roaming the fields with their mothers while the milk supply dries up. After installing the clips, we moved the herd into the far, far field where they can meander the large pasture, under the fir trees that have grown up along the old railroad grade and the forest around the pasture. The weaning calves will stay in the same field as their mothers for about five days before we haul the calves to the show barn where they will learn to be completely independent from their mothers. Continue reading
I have had some questions about the weaner clips that we use for our calves.
Ours happen to be a green color while the newer version is a nice bright yellow that is easier to spot both on the calves and when we are trying to locate them in the cow cupboard. When we first bought the weaning clips we ordered ten of them so we could wean ten calves at a time. Over the course of at least eight years, we broke one when the plastic became brittle and one when we dropped it on the ground and drove over it (I would say bright yellow is a great choice). Needless to say, they are very durable.
These cool little nose clips are easy to insert without any discomfort for the calf. Once inserted a small wing nut ensures that the clips stay in place. The calves are unable to nurse while the clips are in but they are able to eat grain, apples, and drink water with ease. The cows are able to dry up from not being nursed while they are right next to their baby, the mother can comfort her baby by licking and close contact.
The result is no bellowing from the cows or the calves, no pacing, jumping or running through fences. No animals in distress and no need to play loud music in an effort to drown out all the crying from both sides of the river. This is the only way we wean now, it has made for a smooth transition for the cattle and humans alike.
To see the whole story with pictures and ordering information, visit SchmidlinAngusFarms.com
It’s that time of year when the farm takes on the look of a movie production. It makes me think of Hannibal Lecter in his face-mask during the movie Silence of the Lambs.
Four of the oldest calves are ready to begin the weaning process. It takes only moments for the temporary clip to be inserted without pain or undue hardship. The new face guard is a simple green plastic clip that fits into their nostrils. The guard swings easily to allow for the calf to drink water and eat grass while getting in the way enough so the calf cannot attach to a mother cow for milk. The calves go back to grazing moments after the clip is inserted. Continue reading
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