Monday, September 17, 2007

First Calf of the Season

Our first calf of the season arrived last week. To make this one even more special the mom is a first time momma, and she was born and raised at our farm - a complete circle of sustainable life. She's such a crazed, hormonal maniac so protective of her calf that it took me three days to get a picture without risking death. Mr. W finally followed them into the shed to snap this one, but the photo op was short lived. She charged.

Charolais cows are big; Charolais bulls are enormous; and Charolais calves are many times a little too big for the first time heifer. To avoid the scary need help with labor issue, we had the bright idea of renting Sarge, a neighbor's Brangus bull, to guarantee small calves for all our first timers. No, the calves won't be true to breed -the tell-tale signs of the Brangus bull are written all over the small calf's grayer white coat (rather than creamy white), black nose and hooves, and compact head - but we can sell all of these calves so as not to sully the picturesque views from the porch with mismatched cows.

My husband is going out of town for the next month or so. He plans the calving around his seasonal absences. Isn't that nice of him?


ZBTzahBTzoo said...

I'd be dead by now. We city slickers have this uncontrollable urge to pet any creature that's even half as cute as that calf!

My husband plans his travels around weddings, funerals, birthday parties, dental appointments, anniversaries, major surgeries, and rare visits from his mother in-law ... makes me wish I were zoned for livestock. That'd teach him!

Don't I recall a difficult calving last fall -- one where you were thankfully able to intervene with a good outcome?

("sully[ing] the picturesque views from the porch with mismatched cows?" My mother thought I was a bit nutty for thinking all curtains should have white linings so they'll match from the outside of the house. I completely understand why you'll have to sell the "Charolangus" babies.)

Q: Do you breed cows on different dates so the calves don't all arrive at once? Or do you not attempt to control the timing at all?

I've got my fingers crossed for your worry-free calving season.

Wisteria said...

All momma cows are protective, but this one is so much more so than any of our others. We try to let things happen as naturally as possible, but we don't want it to be so natural that calves or mothers die unnecessarily , so we look to see it the calf nurses, if the afterbirth has been delivered, and if the calf is healthy. This mom has barely tolerated it. We are hoping this is a one time mania.

We meticulously plan calving because we don't want any calves to be born when the temperatures are over 100 F. We also prefer not to have calves in January and February because the cold, damp ground isn't a fabulous bed for the babies and they get sick. So, we start mid-September with the first timers, then October and November for everyone else. We have a few strays before and after, but the goal is to have everyone calving at once. This way, we are all focused on the calving and can keep an eye out for trouble, and all vaccines, weanings, and other procedures can be done together.

Last year, I handled a momma cow with a stick in her eye and a herniated calf while Mr. W was gone. I did have help from my dad and the rest of the town.

Susan said...

They're both so pretty, Wisteria. Good picture.

Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

What a darling addition to your four-legged herd! As a half-breed lover myself, I think the plan was brilliant and the results adorable!

Not thinking DH travels plans equally adorable. Pinch him!

Melora said...

What a darling baby! Mama is awfully pretty too, and I can't blame her for being protective since you make a habit of selling off animals that don't work with your color scheme.
We've been watching the video series All Creatures Great and Small, and the main characters spend a lot of time with their arms stuck us the back side of cows. It looks very uncomfortable (both for the cow and the person).

Mrs. G. said...

This post makes me suspicious of my own husband's travels. They always happen when the bathroom needs cleaning.

Nice cows.

Kate in NJ said...

Lovely cows!
Good luck for a healthy
calving season!