Monday, December 5, 2011

It's a new calf!

One of our cows aborted her calf midway through her gestation.  I wasn't aware of it.  One of the milkers told me that Lucy was in heat, and I pooh-poohed it, saying that it had to be a false heat, since she was settled (that means pregnant).

In June, no calf, nor July, nor August, nor September.  In October, I called the vet to check her, and he thought she was due in January, maybe as late as February.  So it wasn't a false heat the milker saw.  I was very disappointed, but at least she was definitely pregnant.

About two weeks ago, I saw her udder begin to fill, and I knew she was not going to make it to January.  I called it for the second week of December, and definitely there would be a calf here by Christmas.

Yesterday afternoon, I looked out the window and saw a little one, still wet and wobbly, following Lucy around.  Of course, she was easy to spot because Sam has made his mark yet again!  We will have a whole herd of cows that look like full blooded Guernseys before long - a lovely caramel tan with big blotches of stark white.  She is beautiful, just beautiful.  The calf is already sold, to one of our shareholders.  She will leave us in a week. 

In the meantime, I am going to have to milk Lucy out, because her udder is so huge!  And I’m not sure the calf can even suckle - might have to milk her, then turn around and fill a nipple pail and feed the calf that way.   I am leaving mother and child together even if I hand feed.  Right now I am heating some frozen colostrum that we saved last spring, just in case the calf was not able to nurse.  Just waiting for daylight to go out there with it.  Calves can go about 24 hours before they have to eat, so we still have some time.

Yesterday, I moved the cows to Paddocks 2 & 3 because the weather was warm and the grass was okay in there - I wanted to give them just a little treat before the winter weather hits this week.  It entered my mind that I should put Lucy in the nursing pen, but I thought she would enjoy that good grass - and surely the calf wouldn't come today!  I was wrong, hey?

That meant I had to get the calf away from Lucy, into the wagon and then take her up the lane to the nursing pen.  Lucy is a very protective mother.  Well, they all are, but she is more than most.  I was surprised that I got the calf away from her without too much trouble - so glad my wagon tilts so I didn't have to lift her far.  Lucy was bellowing but she didn't come at me, thank goodness.   About halfway there, the calf jumped out of the wagon.  I wrestled her back in, got up to the nursing pen and then got her out of the wagon.  Taking a few steps at a time, I got her into the nursing pen.  Of course, Lucy followed her right in.   She didn't butt me once.  I am surprised.  It has been an issue in the past.  But maybe it was because it was just me handling her.  She doesn't like strangers, so when I brought in help, it might have disturbed her more.  Or maybe she is just getting less aggressive as she gets older.

All of the cows and the two bulls were very interested.  They are such sociable animals.  They ran along the path while I drove the calf up to the pen, a few of them bellowing in concert with Lucy.  They stood by the fence looking over at the nursing pen instead of eating their hay.

I was just telling someone that this is my slow time of the year.  The vet predicted Lucy would freshen January or February.  So I was even hoping she would wait until February so I could enjoy my slow time to the fullest, but getting fresh raw milk again is worth giving it up. 

Well, I am heading out to the barn to feed the calf and milk Lucy.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad mama cow didn't butt you. One week is such a short time to enjoy that calf, but I understand.
    David/ :-)