Thursday, April 29, 2010

False M

Of all the cows in the herd, False M is the oldest, scrawniest, sweetest, most adventurous, most headstrong and the one that always keeps us guessing. She is one of three remaining cows that appear in Lorene's herd book (a book of all the cattle records complete with photos that goes up through 2000 (most everyone else in the herd was either born after 2000 or is not very easily identifiable from photos). With a distinct red mark on her face, we know from her cattle record that she was born in 1992 of Medium Red (dam, red angus) and Curly (sire, hereford) which makes her 18 years old now.

I have more stories about this one cow than all my other cow stories combined and I haven't even known her that long. False M is not so much of a fencebreaker but it is more that she knows all of the pastures, all of the holes in the fences and how long she wants to be on any one pasture. If your schedule for moving cattle doesn't align with her own, she will move herself - like last summer when she was done with being Out South and went through several fences and the CRP fields and showed up above the garden one day.

On the flip side, if she is not ready to go, there is no way you are going to get her to go anywhere. She knows just the right buttons to exasperate you or elicit pity so that come moving day, we just leave her behind where she wants to be. Last year, when it was time to move the herd from Upper Kirkbride to Out South, she didn't want to go so we left her.

Another thing you should know about our antique cow, False M, is that she has arthritis or some other condition in her right rear leg that is so bad she can't really flex the joints so she drags her hooves and moves very slow. In the winter months it seems even worse. She takes forever to come up to the hayshed for feedings; she will get there, but she is so slow. Yet for how slow that old girl is, she can cover some serious country.

At branding this year, we rounded up the herd and she didn't come in with the others. Then a few days later we rounded them up again and moved them to the York Place. False M did not come in then either. We didn't see her for two weeks and figured she was probably dead. Her condition had been worsening through the winter, she was very skinny, had few remaining teeth and though we thought she might be pregnant, she would probably be too weak to deliver the calf.

Two weeks later, Lloyd and Nathan spotted her alive and well further down the creek in Lower Kirkbride pasture (as I mentioned before, closed gates and fences mean nothing to her). We opened the gates so she could come down towards the house where the yearling herd was pasturing, but we didn't see her again.

Low and behold, she appears yesterday back in Upper Kirkbride resting under a tree right next to the road (literally the farthest point from where she was spotted on Lower Kirkbride a week ago) and she is not alone. At her side is a little red/white face heifer calf (no genetic mystery of who the sire is on that one, good job Archie). We can't help but laugh at how familiar this seems.

Last year, after branding we turned the herd out on Upper Kirkbride for a few days to calm down and rest before we moved them to their spring pasture, Out South. Come moving day, False M would not go. She hadn't calved yet anyway so we left her. She disappeared for a few weeks until we drove by and saw her resting along the road with a new heifer calf (Blk/white face named Lightbulb).

False M and 2009 calf Lightbulb

IMG_1794 copy

False M and 2010 Red/White face calf

I checked my cattle records and that was on 4/29/09 meaning that it was precisely one year, to the day, from when she presented her calf Lightbulb last year and her new red calf today. Just like last year, we opened up the gate for her and she headed off towards wherever she wants to be just like the False M we all know and love.

IMG_1796 copy


lisa said...

I love the false M story. We too, have a geriatric cow in our herd. She is the same age as yours--18 (as close as we can calculate). Since she was looking a bit thin (no teeth left), i moved her to a lot at the barn where i could grain her along with a couple of calves we are feeding out. I explained to her that i was leaving in a couple of weeks and it would be nice if she would pop before i left. actually, i think she liked the hand feeding and was holding off as long as possible. of course,the morning of my flight (we have an hour drive to a shuttle, then a 2-1/2 hour drive to the airport)i am keeping an eye on grandma and she keeps laying down then getting up to check the ground. as i am driving out the drive, she is showing 1 foot. on the positive side, it was a front foot although it would have been more reassuring to have 2 front feet, better yet to have 2 front feet and a nose and even better to have a whole calf! i called the neighbor who offered to come by and check on her. got the call while on the shuttle to the airport that she had a new bull calf and both were fine. i am not sure why you can have a cow calve in the pasture and not worry as much as when you have them in a lot. grandma thinks she has a pretty sweet deal--her own pasture and daily bunk feeding and a brand new baby!

Katia said...

I know exactly what you mean. It doesn't matter that it is snowing and a cow could wander down the canyon and run into trouble calving, when you stare at them a couple times a day, it is so much easier to fuss and fret over the smallest perceived problem. Despite the fact that those ole gals have more experience calving than we do, we still worry!

Post a Comment