Bonnie, the Jersey cow

Our latest addition to the menagerie came last week in the form of a 4 yr old doe-eyed dairy bovine with fawn colored skin and a silky brown tail.  Ponderous belly swollen with her impending calf, she descended from the trailer and surveyed her domain. 

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Our ten grassy acres with tall shade trees and a cool clean barn was  a far cry from her former living quarters.  Up to her knees in muck with no dry place to lay down and no shelter, her old home was not worthy of her highness.  This new place was much  more to her liking and she showed her approval by promptly diving into the fresh spring grass and shoving the Holstein bottle calves out of her way. 

Her highness becomes a bit undignified though when the whistle is sounded and the grain bucket rattled.  Her addiction to this cracked grain ambrosia causes her to throw haughtiness to the wind and come a-running, belly swinging, udder flopping, tail flying in the wind. 

 

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Watching her coming, I had flashbacks of my third pregnancy and the sounds of the Dreyer’s coffee ice cream container opening… Let’s just say the scene was somewhat similar…

Published in: on April 20, 2009 at 1:49 pm  Comments (4)  
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Calves in the barn, calf in the laundry room…

Something about spring coming makes me want to accumulate animals, much to my husband’s chagrin!  

It must be some primal urge to mother small creatures and since we are done having children, I have to take my mothering instinct to the corral…

That sounded really weird…

 

Because of my primal mothering instinct, and because the milk market has just tanked,  we now have 7 Holstein bottle calves in our barn…

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Well, 6 Holstein calves in the barn and one sick calf in the laundry room…

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What can I say? It’s cold outside, she needs supervision and I don’t feel like walking to the barn every 15 minutes to check on her…

 

This is also to my husband’s chagrin… I think he is really regretting taking me to the livestock sale this morning…

It’s like walking an alcoholic into a bar and handing them the bottle opener…

But he really loves me…really, really loves me… and it doesn’t hurt that he really loves beef too…

 

Not a big fan of sick beef in the laundry room though!

Published in: on February 28, 2009 at 6:25 pm  Comments (3)  
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Branding

Aaaahhhh!!! Sniff, sniff….

Branding day- the smell of burning hair, the bawling of calves, the chaos of people and cows and branding irons and vaccination guns, all in close proximity.

Did I mention HOT branding irons?

Note the flame coming off the hide of this poor calf-

I could pretend to be all politically correct and worried about the pain that the calf is going through, but, it’s a necessary fact of life for these calves, the pain is momentary, and within moments, it’s done and they are off to mama.

Yes, occasionally someone gets stuck with the vaccination needle- but its’s ok- they are guaranteed not to get blackleg or rhinovirus for at least a year-

In this yearly event, all the community that is available participates, moving from ranch to ranch, often branding 300 calves in just a few hours.

Cow/calf pairs are rounded up from the pasture by 4-wheelers and horses, brought into the corrals, sorted and seperated. Groups of up to 50 calves at a time are run into a corral filled with people. Two folks pick out a calf, grab it from the group, wrestle it to the ground, and while one person sits on its head and one holds its feet, it is systematically vaccinated, branded, and if need be, castrated.

Hence the Rocky Mountain Oysters: Castration is done by the older guys with a knife and their fingers- generally the knife is held in the teeth inbetween cuts-

No, I am not joking- it’s the way it’s done- The cool thing is, the kids are brought right into the middle of things- this is my girl, barely 75 lbs, sitting on the head of a 200 lb calf that she brought down (with help!)

Castration was not something my kids learned how to do that day, but eating calf nuts fresh fried on the branding iron was not an experience my 12 yr old son was able to pass up!
Sorry, no pics of that one!!

At the end of the morning, an enormous feast is spread in the ranch house- 5 main dishes in enormous crockpots, huge baskets of bread, 5 different kinds of salad, iced tea and lemonade, and 10 different kinds of pie.

That, and the unlimited beer (come on, this is ranch country-beer is water here), are all the pay that the folks get.

Then onto another day and another ranch, 300 more calves, more beer and more food—it’s a good ranch life!!

Published in: on November 4, 2008 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment