Friday, February 26, 2010

Calf chronicles

Well calving season seemed to be off to a good start. We had six calves at the brood herd last week, but other than #55's calf on Tuesday, there hasn't been much to show for calving season this week. At least not until today. Today, just as equally sunny and gorgeous as the rest of the week, was the day that the cows said it was time.

First up was a solid black cow with a speckly bag. She calved out a reddish-tinted black bull. For some reason I didn't take any photos though I stood looking at it for a good 5 minutes.

Next up was Spits who has the distinction of having the first black and white faced calf of the season, a little steer. The black calves are cute but when there gets to be about 15 of them running around it is hard to tell them apart.

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Third calf of the day was an all black bull born to an all black cow. While out checking on the herd we spotted this pair under a tree, along the fence way out in the pasture. From a distance, we could see the calf was already up and walking around and decided we could wait until tomorrow to look over the calf and sex it. For some reason though, we decided to go check anyway and we were glad we did since the calf was on the wrong side of the barb wire fence. Normally the cows can coax the little ones back through the wire, but this section of fence was surprisingly taut. The calf must have laid down right under the fence and then stood up on the wrong side. Nathan grabbed him and placed him on the proper side and mama and baby skedaddled up the hill.

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Nearby, Whitecap had recently calved out another all black bull and was letting him nurse as we drove by to check.

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Finally, back at the house, another heifer started antsing around like she was feeling calvish. Cows, especially first-calf heifers, can act anxious as labor approaches; they wander around, repeatedly lay down and get up, hold their tails up and kick at their bellies. I'd been watching #51 from across the canyon as I worked in the garden and at 2pm she looked like she was close but by 2:30 she was in labor (not everyone is a fan of specific birth-related details, so I will keep it vague here). We walked her down to the barn where we could pen her in to a smaller space and Lloyd helped pull the calf, so by 3:15, cow and calf were getting to know each other. Here's the little red heifer the next morning out enjoying the sunshine in the barnyard.

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That brings us to five calves for the day and six total for the week. Maybe we will have a few more tomorrow. I told Nathan I want a cute baby calf born tomorrow for my birthday please and thank you. We'll see what happens.

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