Light-footed Massage

A cow is enjoying a back scratch from a bird.I was out mowing grass between the pasture and the road and noticed one of the heifers with her head dropped low . At first I thought she was nibbling grass, but she was standing perfectly still.

That was when I noticed about 6 cow-birds running back and forth across her body. Cow-birds are small and a brown/grey color. They are unafraid when hanging around the cows in the field and are known to hitch a ride every now and then on a bovine as they look for small insects to add to their diet.

This heifer was enjoying the sensations along her skin and stopped moving so the tippy-tap of tiny feet would continue. The birds would jump off every now and again only to return to the task at hand (make that foot).

It was a fine day to be out in the sunshine and get a massage at the same time.


Third Day Surprise

A herd of Black Angus cows standing by the River.On the third day of our rain drenched thaw, with the river still too high for the herd to cross, Paulette decided to have her calf.

The herd huddled by the river in the rain and we fed yet another breakfast in the too small pasture. At this point, the bulk of the snow was melted and had already flowed into the river. Feeling sure that the river would recede enough in the next 24 hours, we planned on moving the baby in the morning, across the river via the Gator and have the cows swim across to meet us. The herd had other plans.

When they heard the Gator start up signaling the evening feeding was close at hand, the 19 pregnant cows swam across. I stayed with Paulette and her baby to keep them from crossing fearing the water was much too high to take the little calf.

Mike went over the bridge to feed the herd and was going to come back with the Gator so we could transfer the baby from the wrong side to the right side. Paulette didn’t like being left behind, she out-maneuvered me with a sneaky end-around run. She had her calf right by her side as the pair plunged into the river.

Mike and I were up on the bridge when we saw Paulette make it across and the little calf, just a bobbing head on the turbulent surface, was being swept downstream in the current. I was afraid to even take a picture, because it did not look like it would be a good outcome.

Paulette was bellowing and the calf was frantically swimming but being pulled farther away with each moment. Miraculously, the calf was able to get out of the swift current near a bend in the river and got footing on the rocks where the water wasn’t as deep.

By the time we could get over to the other side, Paulette had her baby away from the river and was heading toward the outdoor feeders. We intercepted the pair and put them in the barn with Plum and her baby bull, Snowcap.

After a chance for Paulette to get some dinner and the baby to get dried off from the icy plunge. Both mother and baby are well and getting along well with their pen-mates in the nursery field.

A Black Angus cow with newborn calf.As for the baby, we have named that tough girl after a very strong swimmer. Welcome to the farm, Nyad, weighing in at 65 lbs. on 1/20/2017.

Piddy Pat

A new set of hooves were found in the barn this morning. Our show cow, Sitka had a cute little girl.

To say the least, we were a little surprised. Sitka had delivered Mapleine on March 10, 2016. She must have been bred back only a month later in order to have her next one in January. Just like humans, cows usually don’t become fertile after delivery quite so soon especially when they are nursing heavily.

A newborn Black Angus calf standing in the barn.Welcome to the farm Peach, who weighed in at 62 lbs on January 3, 2017.

She looks a little scruffy in her first picture, but once her mom got her all cleaned up her hair is long, jet black and fluffy.

By her size, we think she may be a week or two premature, but she is very happy and healthy. Cutting circles around her mom and sneaking out the door to cavort in the snow before coming back into the shelter of the barn.




She Has Me Trained

There is a newly weaned heifer in the barn that is stupid. Or stubborn. Or maybe she is cunning enough to have me trained to do her bidding. I haven’t figured out for sure which statement is true.

Going on three weeks now, we moved the heifer into the show barn so that I could spend time with her and get her used to sticking her head into the stanchions to reach her food. She is a fairly gentle animal, she is not skittish when I walk near her, she lets me touch her when I am close by, she will even eat pieces of fruit from my hand when I offer her a sliced pear or apple. But she will not stick her head in through the thick metal bars to eat.

When weaning calves that have been used to eating grass in the pasture or hay that is dropped on the ground, the idea of picking their head up and over the ‘v’ shape of the metal bars to eat out of the manger is a foreign concept. Many times it will take several days before a calf figures out the idea, once and a while it will take up to a week. But this heifer simply can’t figure it out.Heifer trying to reach through bars of manger to reach hay. She will stick her nose though gaps in the bars and snag one spear at a time with her long tongue but will not move over a few inches and lift her head.

I have put bales of hay below the fluffy hay and she still reaches through the small bars instead of getting full mouth-fulls.  She tears at the hay and ends up pulling large quantities out by her feet that gets wasted by getting stomped in poop.

Heifer looking at feed in manger.I set hay in a round tub on top of a bale, she will lift stick her head to eat off the top of the tub but once the tub slides to the floor or gets knocked over, she cannot reach any more food.

During the feeding time, all the other heifers are munching happily away. I have to lock them away from this area so I can get this little one to eat. I have to keep moving the tub so she has access to the hay.

This heifer is stupid, or maybe she really is smarter than she appears.



Me and #34

Our heifer #34, Gauge, likes people. I mean she likes the taste of people, especially the taste of me. She is a licker. She tests the taste of boots, jeans, shirts, zippers, coats, hair, hands, chins, anything she can sample will do just fine. She likes to lick on my knuckles as I hold the water hose or gates, or try to close latches. Continue reading

Queen of the Mountain

This week of beautiful sunshine, warm weather and drying mud has been good for the calves. They don’t hunker under the tall trees all day, rather they cavort around and lounge in the sun.

Black Angus calf standing on stump.This heifer was playing Queen of the mountain on the tallest stump she could find. She towered over the other calves, and she seemed to enjoy watching traffic go by on the rural county road just beyond the fence line.

Once on top of the stump, she started stretching (and possibly yawning), while the sun warmed her.

Black Angus calf standing on top of stump.Before long, the standing got to be too much work and she looked to find a way to lay down for a snooze.

Black Angus calf trying to lay down on stump.

It took a bit of maneuvering, but she was able to get her front legs under her before settling down to rest.

Black Angus calf laying on top of an old stump.Doesn’t look very comfortable to me, but I guess when you are Queen, a little discomfort only adds to the quality of the view.

Getting Prepared for the Fair I

Black angus cows wearing halters with heads in stanchions.

This is the first post in the Fair Prep Series.

The first step in preparing the show string for the fair circuit is getting the animals comfortable wearing a halter. We start several weeks before the fair and take the process in small steps.

The older heifers and the cow that has been to fairs before take no time at all to get used to the rope halter. The young bull and heifer calves take a couple of sessions until they realize that the rope on their face will not hurt them. Continue reading