Wild Thoughts about Calves- (or I think I need more coffee this morning)

Boo the (Br)Angus posing for his closeupI woke up this morning with just of hint of new daylight streaming through the window and the sound of a flock of Canada geese honking as they flew overhead. Outside, the grass was nearly white from the heavy frost and the trees now devoid of their leaves contrasted the brightness of the rising sun. There is not a cloud in the sky. This is the typical Kentucky winter morning. It is not that we do not get snow, we get plenty, but if it is a cloudy day in winter, it is likely to be a bit warmer, if not sloppier, than the sunny day it follows.

It is a fine day for the chores we need to do today. We took delivery yesterday of three large Holstein heifers in exchange for a couple of Jersey bulls that a local farmer intends to use to “freshen” his herd of dairy cows. They look to be in good health and we kept them separated from the others last night, but today they need a place of their own where they can stretch their legs too. Mike and I will go over later with the tractor so he can load a wagon with some round bales to bring over for the ladies, as well as Brahma Mama and Pip. We want to check that herd too. One of them got out last night and we had to put her in her pen before we went to bed.

We had some interest in the purchase of several of our smaller calves this past week  and even an offer to trade a bottle baby for a colt. I might have made the trade if the colt was not nearly two and never ridden. But since I do not know how to ride and, indeed, am fearful of horses, I do not think it would be a good trade for us. He needs someone that can break him to ride, not just to his lead. He is beautiful, though, a cremello that would be a good stud. I’ll ask around to some of the horse farms close by and see if there is an interest there. I doubt it.

Boo seems to bring the most interest right now, because he is a black angus. Well, he might even be a Brangus (Brahma and Angus). I find it rather funny that people are all about “Ooooo, Angus!” like the color of their coat somehow makes a difference in the taste of the meat. Ah well, we will play along and for our “keeper” herd, will concentrate on solid color cattle like the Angus and Charolais. If you remember, Sam and Diane, my first calves, are both Charolais and in my own weird sense of humor I named them for the television news correspondents I used to watch every night. They stuck out in the crowd of black calves, mingled among them, then found their own special places on the fringe of the herd.

Like the other solid colored calves, there is also good interest in Big Un, a new arrival, and Coco, his look alike. Both appear to be solid red Simmentals. Time will tell for certain, but they are beautiful in their coat color, have long bodies, good muscle, bright eyes, and are huge for their age. Big Un is now about six days old and easily the size of Boo the Angus, who is now a month old. Both BigUn and Coco keep hearty appetites too. So much so, that I have wondered if they shouldn’t be given a touch more milk than the smaller calves. I will have to look that up.

Some of the newer babies are nearly ready for weaning too. Runner, for example, the one that escaped the electric fence the other day and ended up in the pasture with Brahma Mama, eats hays with Brahma on a daily basis, munches on his bedding, and loves the sweet feed we keep handy for the babies in their stalls. Once the Holstein ladies are in their own place, it may be time to move him and a couple of others to “school” where they can be weaned and lead-trained.

Speaking of lead-trained. I noticed Pip is “lead training” Belle, the blind Holstein in their stall. He directs her where he wants her, keeps her “safe” from Mike when he is in the stall, and shows her the food. She is a smart heiffer too! She is not lead trained, but certainly understands the voice commands of Gee, Haw, and Giddup. I think she likes being directed instead of circling round and round trying to figure out where walls and animals and feed troughs are.

So…I’m off now, sorry to cut this short, but it is feeding time. It now takes about 1-1/2 hours to feed the babies in the morning, not counting mucking out stalls, giving medications if needed, and other miscellaneous duties. Cuts into house cleaning time, too…ah…I…am…so…sad about that. Ha!


About cattlebaroness

I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a BA in History, nearing completion of a Master of Arts in American history. Born and raised first on military bases around the world, then in Orange County, CA, I moved to Kentucky when my children were small. I now live on a small family farm and am learning about farm life, planting and our newest addition to the landscape--cattle. Until a month or two ago, all I knew about 'cows' were that they came in brown, black and white and that some are raised for milk and others for meat. I am a quick study out of necessity.
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2 Responses to Wild Thoughts about Calves- (or I think I need more coffee this morning)

  1. ceciliag says:

    I just got in from doing the chores, we do not have nearly as many as you do, i just do not have the space. But you are building up your herd so fast. We had a holstein once and he took out every gate we had, smashed fences and was a terrible bully, he was a steer though, John said no more holsteins every again. We have a lovely hereford heifer who is the sweetest cow i have ever had and is named (so we keep her) I hope she is fertile as she will be the mama of the beef cows. I loves being out there in the barn working with them though.. it is a lovely way to start the day.. c

  2. Good afternoon!

    Sometimes it feels like all day long are chores. Other days it is all so much fun I can’t believe the day is over already. We have had good luck so far with the Holsteins although we only have five of them, counting the new three and none of them are steers. Hal was one of our first calves and spoiled like the rest, so he even comes to his name in hopes of a good pet or special food. He might not be as spoiled as, say, Spot, who all but rolls over for a belly pat in response to a good mess of kale, but he is very spoiled. I do love being out in the barn with them and it is something I’m sure of lot of people I know (city people like me) would never understand. We are bottle feeding ten right now and each one has its own “puppy-like” personality. We have been very lucky to obtain them at reasonable prices and I suspect now that some farmers have seen the new facilities, more will come available. Hopefully, that will include more beef calves to go with the dairy calves, since we want to build our own herd as well as selling the little ones. It is not easy and I still cry when one dies after we’ve done all we could to save him, but there really is something special about feeling needed…even by a calf.

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