Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

What a month

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.)


CoachTom said...

Rain, I have been reading your blog and use it for inspiration for my own attempts at bloging (http://tomramblings.blogspot.com/)
I grew up in Lyons (East of Salem) and returned to Oregon after a Navy career. In 8 days I will be moving to Healdsburg, California) Your blog will help me stay in touch with my native land. You seem to be very much like me...


robin andrea said...

It has been quite month for you and Farm Boss. A lot of work, keeping on eye on things all the time. I have to say, if it takes your mind off politics and the flu, that's definitely an upside.

I've got my fingers crossed that momma will come through.

Darlene said...

I am so glad that the little calf made it and it's a joy to see him playing with his buddy. I hope the negligent Mom gets her act together soon. I won't weep for her if she has to be shipped off.

Kay Dennison said...

I hope there's a happy ending for the lil' heifer and her mama AND I hope that you are rid of the flu quickly. I'd say get some rest but knowing all too well of farm life, it can be damn near impossible. Take care!!!! Hugs!!!!

Rain said...

Thank you, Coach Tom. It always means a lot to me to find someone else has been enjoying my blog.

I don't have the flu now, Kay but just it was part of the last month and it was no fun when I did have it.

The calf is still a very iffy deal. It just doesn't want to be part of the herd and its mother isn't knowing how to deal with it. A combination of both of them is making them not work very well. Disappointing if it doesn't work. Farm Boss is now treating the calf for scours, something calves get now and then. None of this has helped its health :(

Mary Lou said...

Just catching up...and sounds like you have been really busy being a farm wife. I love all the pictures and the stories!!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This is such a Heart Tugging story on BOTH little calves...Gee, I hope this second Mama & Baby get things worked out....