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
Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, large animals are not as dumb as they may seem. Although normally they abide by the rules of the farm and get along with their fellow critters(including humans), they can also be quite conniving when they decide to mutiny or if they just get into a ‘mood’. Continue reading
Pressure had a bull calf we named Pirelli, born 3/26/2017 and he weighed 75 lbs.
Rather than disturb the new baby, we gave Pressure a couple of slabs of sweet grass hay next to the fence and under a large fir tree so the rain wasn’t too uncomfortable for the pair.
Pirelli, didn’t rouse from his nap and Pressure was able to get filled up before settling down next to the baby for a needed rest.
By the next morning, Pressure had moved Pirelli across the field by the hillside which gave the little one even more protection from the weather. Once the rain let up, she moved Pirelli out to the middle of the field and in with the main herd.
The loaner herd has completed their work for the year. From the group of animals we took to the neighbor farm to keep the grass pastures trimmed down, Topanga and Scratch with their babies are the four that were left to work through the summer and early fall.
We moved those last four home to be with the rest of the herd since the grass will not be growing much through the rest of the year and early next year. They had successfully managed the grass in several pastures and around the barnyard.
As we pulled the stock-trailer into the barnyard area, the cows with their calves came running to the barn, bellering the whole way. It sounded like they were happy to see us and they were ready to go home. In reality, the farmer at the loaner farm, called the herd up daily for a bite or two of sweet grass hay and a few molasses pellets.
Topanga, the biggest momma cow, seemed rather indignant that her run up the trail from the woods to the barn didn’t end in a delicious meal. But that only lasted a little while. All four animals were loaded into the trailer and hauled home. Mike pulled the trailer over the bridge to the far side pasture where the main herd had been moved into the 6 acre field. The back door of the trailer was opened and the four loaners ran out to meet their long-lost family.
There was a bit of scuffling, snorting and general mayhem for about 10 minutes while the herd restructured with the returning members. The pecking order was decided and peace again reigns on the farm.
Our herd sire, Renaissance, had been keeping company with our show cows in the barn and pastures close to the house. These areas happen to be fairly close to the bull pen, where all our adolescent bulls have been gawking over the fence at the majestic movements and sounds of a herd sire in action.
Since the house and garden are located between the yearling bulls and the show animals with the herd sire, we were in a prime location to hear the serenading going on by both sides. Many evenings, our attempted slumber was punctuated by squeaky snorts on the left and soul-stirring rumbles from the right. Usually the sounds of the herd are soothing and go un-noticed, unless it is pointed out by a visitor or becomes unusually raucous. When the noise brings you out of a solid sleep to sit bolt upright in bed, you become aware of the interruptions of the peaceful nights.
Renaissance had been moved from the main herd to the show herd more than two cycles ago, enough time for the cows to come into heat twice plus a few days. The bull has the opportunity to breed the cow with her first cycle and then get another chance the next month, just in case the cow didn’t get bred or settle during the first go-round.
He was loaded back into the stock trailer for the short trip over the bridge to the property on the other side of the river. When the trailer door was swung open, Renaissance took no time at all to go scooting out to the cows in the main herd to get reacquainted. The cows were bellering a welcome and the calves were kicking up heels and running circles around the herd. Renaissance took the greeting in stride with his own deep, throaty bellows announcing his return and daring any competition to interfere with his reign.
His welcome settled quickly as all the animals went back to grazing and napping in the large grass field. Renaissance, after checking each cow with a good sniff, realized his manliness wasn’t needed at the moment and was content to start grazing as well, content to be back with the main herd.
It had been a full week since I was fooled by our six year old cow named Scratch. To me she looked like she was near calving. I pulled her away from the main herd and moved her into the nursery field where she could calve in a clean, grassy field away from the crowd.
She put up with the move and got reacquainted with the cows that have their new calves with them, but she was not content. Two days later, when I had the gate open to take hay to the main herd, she calmly walked out the gate and back to her non-birthed friends. Day after day, she scoffed at me while feeding (this may have been just my imagination).
She simply refused to deliver and refused to live in the nursery field, until today. Her calf, Scrappy was born early this morning weighting in at 68 lbs., not far from the main herd.
Scratch is now more than happy to hang with the other mothers and babies in the nursery field.
Nearing mealtime, the main herd waits along the fence line. Although they look calm, there is a lot of movement and mooing coming from the herd. They don’t want to be forgotten.
This time of year, the grass is not growing much and the herd depends on supplemental hay to round out their grazing. Breakfast and dinner are not optional, the mother cows are pregnant and need the nutrition to feed their unborn calves.
We usually feed with two people to keep the mayhem from overpowering the feeder. The cows are not mean, just insistent about getting food faster than their neighbor. Jostling for position is natural and not very gentle. Those doing the feeding have to be on watch to avoid getting pinched between two hungry critters.