We made some of our first sales and trades this past month, just in time for Christmas. While I was saddened to see them go, our “babies” are going to good homes. Frick and Frack were traded to a dairy farmer who intends to use them as breeders in exchange for three nearly grown heifers. Bruno found a home with a beef-stock farmer, who wants to use hime immediately to breed eight of his cows and heifers. He grew into a fine young bull: long bodied, calm-natured, and built like a hippopotamus. What a difference a few months make!
We have had a lot of interest in our bottle calves, as well. Especially so for those we really do not intend to sell yet. Little Boo (Wa-debu) and Cocoa, being large for their ages have brought several interested people out, as I am sure one of our newest arrivals, who outsized them at just one week of age, will do. The nursery is fairly full right now, with a dozen Holstein, Jersey, Guernsey, Angus, Saler, Gelbvieh and other crosses in colors that range from champagne to coal black.
I noticed yesterday that Brahma Mama has dried up since losing her calf last month. We want to have her bred, but cow pregnancies are a whole new classroom subject for us to learn. Meanwhile, she keeps the “Painted Ladies” (the Frick and Frack traded Holsteins) in line, particularly if she thinks they might eat “her” food. She has slimmed down a bit, but still a huge cow. To give you an idea, from her poll to her muzzle (top of her head to the tip of her nose) she measures about 25 inches…yeah, that is just her head! We are keeping her in the shed with the babies, where she arrived with her own calf, because she seems so comfortable in the surroundings. Of course, she also has access to the great outdoors and has nearly a whole hay roll to herself, not to mention her feed, and whatever soybeans she can glean from what will be her pasture next year. She seems to love looking out the window of the shed or standing at the end of her “yard” closest to the house to watch us as we go about our daily activities. Makes you sort of wonder who is the “pet” and who is the master.
Fritz, our little Patterdale terrier, decided a couple of weeks ago that he must see the “baby cows” before he goes to bed for the night and it has become his ritual. Each night before bed, he and Mike make a trip out to the calf shed and Mike puts the dog’s leash end on a nail while he does cattle chores. Fritz is often so excited to go, he literally pulls Mike along behind him as he bounds for the shed. Eddie, the Belgian shepherd is a difficult-sell on the issue. At first, he loved going to the shed after dark.One day, however, he decided to “sneak” around the back of the shed and come out the other side to surprise Mike. Oops! He found the electric fence instead. With a loud YELP! he ran back to the house and wanted back in the house NOW! He hasn’t gone to the shed after dark since. Not even with coaxing and treats.
So, Eddie is our Brahma Mama-dog. Like the cow, he is huge, goofy, and oversized with a head the size of a pumpkin. Even his coloring is like hers. But while Brahma watches the world with what appears to be pleased amusement, Doofus (as Eddie is often called) runs through life stomping on flowers, small children, and smaller dogs in an effort to find love, fun, and happiness. He is a total klutz and while I am not quite sure which style is ‘right,’ each of the animals seems to eventually find contentment in their own unique way.
I am thinking there is a lesson there. Whether we grow with the sole purpose of procreation, like Frick and Frack, or whether we become nurturers content with watching the world more than participating in it, or whether we bound through life clumsily stomping on everything in our exhuberance, as cow, as dog or as human, our time is short. The choices we make about how we approach life determine our own joy in living it. Observers cannot understand bumblers any more than the ultra-religious can understand partiers…yet somehow both types seek their own contentment within the process of living. Brahma’s electric fence gives her a sense of safety, but terrifies Eddie. Eddie’s sense of freedom would terrify Brahma. It seems to me, however, that both styles are equally valid for humans. Which brings up two questions: Can we legislate for “safety” without losing our freedom? And should we?
They are questions we face today in far more significant ways than we have faced in this country in the past. I wonder if we are up to trying to answer them.