As I said last blog, there are times when our little ranch seems to mostly run itself. The last month has not been one of those times. There is an up side to this as when there are problems, I am out there more, observing, watching and end up more connected to the animals than during more benign cycles.
First we had the calf that we thought we lost, but that the mother would not let go. With antibiotics, her care, and the little bull calf's own spirit, these photos show where we are with that.
I watched him running and playing with his little buddy (he's the calf running in the back of the first photo). He has a nice round little body, good energy, and it seems we can heave a sigh of relief. *fingers crossed* ( In that photo with him nose to nose with his mama and his friend alongside, don't they look like two kids checking in with mom?)
Then there is the calf that her mother went off and left. That story is still not resolved.
We had the cow and little heifer (heifers are renamed cows after they give birth to their first calves) in the barn, and it all seemed to be going okay. Farm Boss and I had discussed giving it more time in a pen for bonding.
Wednesday morning, Farm Boss came in from his morning barn check with a sheepish look (figuratively speaking). He had decided they were doing fine and he released them both. Mama took off at a run leaving baby behind who had to be wondering what was that all about? Farm Boss had to put the little heifer back in the barn but had early meetings if he was going to be back for shearing.
It wasn't easy getting the cow in first time. Could we do it again? I grimaced but not much I could do about it. Poor little baby. I thought about shooting the mother but that wouldn't solve the problem-- although it might have given me some satisfaction. grrrrrrrr
The cow, once in awhile, would come close to the barn, but she did not come into it, and her calf remained inside-- theoretically orphaned. After Farm Boss got home, before the shearer arrived, we gave the calf a bottle, but milk replacer is never the best solution as nothing replaces a mother's milk or love.
I had about decided that if we had to accept the mother wasn't going to be a mother, we would bottle feed the baby and keep it. The cow though was going to the auction if she didn't get her act together!
When shearing was done, Farm Boss managed to get the young cow back in the pen with her baby. Actually it seemed she wanted to be there. This time he was determined that she was staying until he could see more commitment. He fenced off the end of the barn to keep them together but not in such a small space.
This is not just a problem of the cow but also one for the little heifer. They have to bond. The heifer must see that this is her mother, and her responsibility is to bond to her, respond when she calls, and recognize this is her food source. This is a symbiotic relationship, good for them both, and the calf has things to learn also. Unfortunately, these two are, in a way, both kids who aren't sure what the heck they are doing.
Thursday I kept an eye on how it was going while Farm Boss was at work but wasn't sure. Early on I thought the udder of the cow looked less full. That would be a good sign. It's not like every time I came out there I was likely to catch the calf nursing. Calves do a lot of sleeping when they are newborns.
By evening, when Farm Boss returned, the heifer was acting pretty energetic, jumping around, and quick to nurse when Farm Boss put the cow back in the head-gate. So, how is this going to work? It's looking good but still a wait and see situation.
Even ignoring politics, my flu, the wet weather, it's been a harder month than usual!
(The calf you see in the first two photos is the one we nearly lost. He is so cute, running, jumping, part of the herd, and forming calf relationships. I hope that the little heifer will soon be joining to make it a gang of three.)