Country Living Series

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Brat Pack is complete

We only had one cow -- technically a heifer -- left to give birth to her calf. This was Pixie, Polly's adult calf.

She's been fooling me, this little lady. I've tucked her into the pen (which I'm coming to think of as the Birthing Chamber) a couple times, sure she was close to calving, but morning would come and no calf.

But yesterday her udder was very turgid, and she had a string of mucous hanging from her backside. No escaping it this time.

We'd been letting the animals down into the woods during the day, but they've still been hanging in the driveway in the evening. Yesterday evening came and Pixie was nowhere to be seen, so I walked down into the woods and found her in a thicket of leafless bushes. It's very normal for cows to go off by themselves to give birth, but Pixie is a first-time mother and there are coyotes around. I wanted her on firm ground with the rest of the cows nearby. She docilely let me herd her back into the driveway.

The weather has been very warm (it hit 60F today!) and the nights cool but not bitter, so it didn't bother me wherever Pixie choose to have her calf, as long as it was in the driveway area with the rest of the herd around. She settled right down for the night. I checked her just before I went to bed, and there were no signs of labor yet.

But this morning, I was not surprised to walk outside and see five, not four, calves. Pixie is now a mama.

Here's the new baby, a little girl we named Peggy (so the descendants go: Polly ==> Pixie ==> Peggy), wobbling right over another calf.

Here's Pixie, looking a little shell-shocked at her new role in life. Sometimes it takes new mamas a little while to get the hang of things.

But she was attentive enough. I think it helps to have other, more experienced cows around.

Then I fed all the animals breakfast under the awning, and Pixie was torn between wanting food and wanting to stay with her baby.


Or breakfast?

Breakfast won. Hey, a gal has to keep her strength up.

So here we have the makings of a fine Brat Pack: Five little calves, born within a few weeks of each other. Can't you just see the mischief they'll be getting into?

In the meantime, Pixie showed signs of being a good mama.

For a little while, that is. Through a series of unfortunate events (namely, spring), one cow (Sparky) jumped a fence into another pasture, and eventually everyone ended up there for the day -- five cows, four calves.

Naughty Pixie had shucked off her responsibilities and left her baby in the driveway while she took advantage of the pasture (those calves aren't hers, by the way). Like a newborn fawn, it's often the habit of newborn calves to just hunker down and stay still when their mothers are away, so Peggy stayed in the driveway.

As evening drew near, Peggy needed her mama, so I scooped her up and put her in the barn pen, then put fresh food and water in the barn pen as well. Then we did our universal cattle call ("Bossy bossy bossy bossy bossy!!!") and got the herd near the gate. It was at this point Pixie remembered she had a calf, so we got her into the barn with her baby.

I was pleased to see Peggy nursing strongly. Once a calf nurses, its chances of survival are superb.

I'm afraid Pixie is in for a boring spell since we're going to keep her confined with Peggy. We have a day of rain moving in, and I want the newborn protected.

So that's the completion of our Brat Pack. In a few weeks these guys will be wreaking havoc. Such is spring.


  1. I think cows are one of the most beautiful creatures! We don't have enough land for one so I really appreciate getting to see yours!

  2. So nice. I sure miss having livestock. But I don't miss making hay and moving manure. Where do you find help during hay making? There are no operating farms around here anymore except those with big families running them and I'm sure they will fold when the kids/grandkids leave home.--ken

    1. We don't make our own hay since we don't have the equipment. However we're surrounded by operating farms and hay is abundant. In the end it's cheaper to buy it.

      - Patrice

  3. You must have your hands full, you usually wish your followers Happy Pi Day so, Happy Pi Day to you and yours :)

  4. So glad to hear all your calves have arrived and are doing well. Always fun to watch the antics of little critters, be it lambs, goat kids or super sweet baby calves.
    J @ Creekside Farmstead