Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Calves popping out everywhere

Holy cow (no pun intended), we've got calves popping out all over.

Late Saturday night, around 10 pm, Victoria had her calf in the pasture. I tried to get a flash photo without much luck.

Sunday morning we went to fetch the calf to the barn. It's a boy, so we needed to have him close to castrate.

Out came Don with the faithful calf cage on the tractor.

The calf cage has made life much easier for us. Here's Victoria and her baby in the barn...

...which adjoins the corral...

...where Lucy and her baby are still residing until the baby is old enough to castrate.

This meant the two calves got to play. Very cute.

Meanwhile Matilda's calf, I'm pleased to report, found the faucet after only two days, relieving me of twice-a-day milking and bottle-feeding the calf.

We've kept Matilda in the driveway area until such time as we could castrate.

Then Monday morning, shortly after Younger Daughter came stumbling out of bed rubbing her eyes, she looked out the window and said casually, "Looks like another cow in labor." There's a country kid for ya.

Sure enough, Sparky was having her baby.

She was at the "two hoof" stage. Birth is usually within half an hour at this point.

No privacy for a cow. Everyone wandered over to offer moral support.

Finally, after a lot of pushing, straining, and groaning...

...she delivered the calf.

As well as all the amniotic fluid.

Immediately Sparky started licking the calf. Licking accomplishes three things: It cleans the calf, it stimulates circulation, and it familiarizes the mother with the calf's unique scent. (Trust me on this. With multiple calves gamboling through a field, I've seen a mother sniff one calf and move on to another it since it didn't smell like hers.)

Lots of curiosity about the newcomer.

It's a little heifer, a rich chestnut brown.

After fifteen minutes or so, her first shaky attempt to stand.

We gave Sparky and her baby a few hours to rest, then out came the calf cage once again. The heifer won't need castrating, of course, but we'll dehorn her.

Here's Sparky and the baby in the barn. The calf is a good strong nurser.

This makes six calves so far -- four bull calves and two heifers. We've steered the bull calves and dehorned one of the heifers (we'll have to wait about five days for Sparky's calf).

You'll notice, however, with the exception of Pixie (Polly's calf) I haven't given any names to the calves. That's because I thought I'd run a calf-naming competition among all of you, dear readers. We're waiting on one, possibly two mores calves, and when the full cadre has arrived, I'll post pictures and genders and invite reader participation.

We've had so many calves popping out that frankly we're dry on names; but it will be fun to hear all of your clever suggestions.


  1. I like Ruby for the new little heifer, she is a dark red color.

  2. Hi Patrice - With all of the livestock, where is all the meat going? I would figure one or two would take care of your family needs. Do you sell the meat or barter for other things?

  3. You have a lot of calves. We had a lot of Republican candidates. How about a "Ted", a "Jeb" and maybe a "Donald"? A Carlie or a whatever some of the candidate's wives names? Julia

    1. Ha ha, good idea. And then we can vote on which ones to castrate and which to put in the freezer.

      Oops, I think I'm on another list!
      Montana Guy

  4. You could name the last heifer that popped out "Poppy"!

  5. The field next door to us always has new calves being born this time of year. However, I always miss the events by mere minutes. Wonderful photographs. Thank you for taking them.

  6. This latest little cutie looks like a Bambi to me. Either that or Flower. Too cute. But a lot of work!

  7. If it is male, then Ivan the Terri-bull! Thanks again for the tour today with my Dad! ~PJ

  8. Isn't it traditional that somewhere along the way you have a milk cow named Elsie? I had an aunt named Elsie, and she had a cow named the same. Aunt and cow were both quite the scrappers. Tough ol' biddies, strongly self reliant to the end.

  9. Because you like books and babies are popping out like flies on Memorial day, why not go to your thesaurus and find names like Honor,Praise or Keepsake. Here is a list for you to look at: http://www.thesaurus.com/browse/memorial

  10. You could name one L.C. DeKau

  11. This is probably a silly question, but I'm curious. For the bull calves born to your Jersey cows, are they worthwhile meat producers, or is there a noticeable difference in the carcass weight when it comes time to process them compared to the straight Dexter cattle? Thanks KW

    1. They are definitely worthwhile meat producers. They're rangier than pureblood Dexter cattle, but larger, so they produce a decent quantity of meat. Remember, any bull calves born to our Jerseys are half Dexter, since our bull is Dexter.

      - Patrice