Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Babies having babies

Two years ago, when we brought the cows down to my farm, we decided to keep three of the calves that were born here that spring.  We were lucky enough to have three heifer calves born in close proximity.  It is quite a lot of work to raise them - feeding them twice a day, and milking twice a day, too, so that we had enough extra milk to feed them without taking milk away from the shareholders.

Even with milking twice a day, it still affected shareholder production by the end of the 90 days that they need mother's milk.  In addition, it creates a lot of work for the people who are milking.  If you have never had the privilege of leaning over a fence with three milk buckets, trying to keep three calves from butting them off the fencing they are hooked to, then you haven't lived! 

This year, we intend to use one of our milk cows to nurse the calves.  It is healthier for the calves, or anyway more natural, and it will certainly be easier on the milkers.  Here is a pic of one of our calves from two years ago.

It was taken within minutes of the calf's birth.  Mom is Lucy, and calf is Smarty Pants, so named because she was a real escape artist.  She made her way out of the pasture and hid under a pine tree when she was only three days old! 

But look at her now!  See that fat belly?  She is about to have a calf of her own. 

The other two calves we kept are Dolly, who is out of Baby Doll, the cow we lost two years ago, and Lucky, out of Rosie the Alpha Cow.  Rosie is our biggest cow, but Lucky is the smallest of the three calves.  But she is ready to pop! 

I am pretty sure she is going to be the first of this trio to bless us with a calf.  She has a beautiful udder!  So does her mom.  Rosie is 11 years old, still a great milker, nice high udder.  It would be nice if Lucky takes after her - only maybe not so bossy?

Dolly is the shyest of the three.  She has never let me hug her and kiss her like the other two do.  Maybe it's because she lost her mom when she was only a few weeks old.  That was a very sad time for all of us, but especially for her, I'm sure. 

I think her belly is the fattest of the three.  It should be a big calf.  Dolly's mom was a wonderful milker.  It is good that she is carrying on her mom's genes in the herd.

These three have gotten into a lot of trouble over the past two years, which has led to their nicknames -  Larry, Curly and Moe.  They were the canaries in the coal mine if there was a break or a short in the fence.  In fact, it was Lucky and Smarty Pants who were at my bedroom window at 3 a.m. a couple of weeks ago, an event that precipitated Androo and I doing some fence repair.

Soon, within a week or two, I expect that we will become "grandparents."  The first of our babies are having babies of their own.  :)

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