Saturday, October 15, 2016

Baby Brain

Nope, not me.

No, the babies I'm referring to are of the bovine kind. On our farm, we have our cows calve seasonally so they avoid giving birth in the hottest part of the summer and the coldest part of the winter. This means we have two calving seasons each year-Spring and Fall. Spring runs mid-March to the end of June and Fall is mid September to late November/early December. We're currently at the end of the craziest, most hectic, INSANELY nutso Calving Seasons we've ever had and let me tell you, it's been one for the record books. We've had the usual amount of cows having babies but there have been some moments that made for a whole lot of stress. Like having ten cows give birth in three days...Here are a few other head-scratching moments we've had from the last three months.

One late August afternoon, I headed out to bring cows home for evening milking. When I got out to the pasture though, I saw a small group of cows shuffling around in a circle. Now this can be normal cow behavior so I wasn't worried at all but something made me look closer. To my utter amazement, the cows were circling around a wee tiny calf! This was a shock because we weren't supposed to have cows giving birth for another month and all of the cows who were due at that time were in a different pasture. At first we didn't know who her momma was because there were four cows who all thought the baby was their own but we figured it out. Momma Cow had her calf 3-4 weeks premature and because of a mixup in the records, she wasn't even listed as pregnant. Hence the reason why momma wasn't out with the other pregnant cows like she should have been. Oopsie. The calf was so itty bitty I couldn't NOT name her even though we usually just give our cows a number. She became known as Liina-which is my shortened up version of Thumbelina. Liina is now 4 months old and despite her early birth, she's doing great.

We had two other calves born 6-8 weeks early according to our breeding records and since they were healthy and normal sized, we knew there was another paperwork mixup somewhere. I put on my detective hat and sleuthed around until I found last fall's breeding papers.(Well, the hubby found them and brought them over to the summer barn so I could figure out where the mistake was made.) Once I had the right paperwork in front of me, it was a simple matter to figure out what had happened and change the records. One was a skipped entry on some paperwork and the other one was an ear tag number that got written down wrong. One more puzzle solved.

Then there was L450. She had miscarried her first calf at about 4-5 months and the resulting hormone fluctuations caused her to produce milk. This was unexpected (as in 'NEVER HAPPENS' unexpected especially considering that this was her first pregnancy) but we brought her into the milk herd and she's been there ever since. Then one September evening I went to get cows home for chores and found a small black heifer giving birth. I assumed it was the small black heifer that my husband had brought over from the winter barn the week before so she could get used to the barn and the milking routine. I was utterly shocked when said small black heifer walked past me in a totally different part of the pasture less than a minute after I left the new momma tending to her newborn baby bull. Not trusting my eyes, I hurried back to the mom and babe to find L450-the cow we were CERTAIN wasn't pregnant-had been the one to give birth! Our only explanation is that when she miscarried in May, she lost one calf but unbeknownst to us, she was actually carrying twins and the other one survived.

And speaking of twins, we went out for morning chores a few weeks back and there were two new mommas with three calves between them. My farmer husband brought the moms and two of the tots to the barn but the third calf was feeling a bit spirited and galloped off to hide. Because we couldn't compare the three calves until we found the missing one, we couldn't tell which of the cows had twins. It took a fair amount of hunting on the part of my hubby as well as myself but we found the impish young'un hiding in a patch of tall grass and shortly after I deposited the babe in her new pen, I was able to figure out which momma had Double Trouble.

Then the other evening L went out to check the cows who are due to calve only to find one momma and two newborns. One baby was off by itself and it had stumbled into a bit of a mud puddle while the new mom was tending to the other calf. We brought the muddy baby up to the barn and after she was cleaned up, we saw a small black and white calf with an upside down triangle on her forehead. The calf being tended to was a milk chocolate brown with white speckles on it's legs and looked nothing like the mother who was fastidiously cleaning up the newborn. The black and white cow (who has an upside down triangle on her forehead) had been bred to a Brown Swiss bull and Brown Swiss are milk chocolate brown cows so we didn't know what to think. One calf looked like the daddy and one looked like a nearly exact copy of the mother but the two calves didn't look anything like each other. We checked the other cows and discovered the two babies were indeed twins. It's uncommon to get twins that don't look at least somewhat alike but for them to be so incredibly different is pretty rare. They do have *some* similarities though. If you look closely, you'll see both calves have nearly identical white speckled patches on their hind legs, they both have colored tail tips (the black/white calf has a black tail with a white tip and the brown calf has a brown tail with a black tip), and they both have matching white patches on their bellies.

And there you have it. We've had mismatched twins, surprise pregnancies, and itty bitty babies to tend to. There's been other weird calving seasons too (like the one where we had four sets of twins born in two months or the one where 1 out of every 6 calves born was a boy), but this one tops them all.

At least til the next Calving Season starts anyway. 😉


Well, that's how it goes I guess.

As I've mentioned in the past, I was writing a monthly column for a family newsletter and it seemed like my creative juices kept me writing more for that and less for this little old blog 'o mine. But alas, ye old family newsletter is at an end (or at least on hiatus) so I suddenly find myself at a loss for words...Well not really. I'm just at a loss as to where to put my words.

And then I remembered my beloved blog. So here I am again.

When I started writing for the newsletter, I found it was sometimes hard to figure out what to write about. You see, the hard thing about writing about farm life is while each day is different to me, it's hard to write about it without it sounding repetitive to the reader. Or, even worse, boring.

So I struggled at first. For two years I wrote that monthly column and gradually, I found it a bit easier to find inspiration. Sometimes it literally leapt out at me (or, in the unfortunate skunk incident, ran under me) and sometimes I had to hunt, but I always found *something* fun/interesting/humorous/crazy to write about.

And now I'm in habit of writing things down because I never know what will strike me as good column fodder. I'm in the habit of producing a monthly column and I'd just started a puzzle feature as well. But my place of publishing is no longer there. I'm sad but I understand all too well how life has a habit of getting overwhelmingly busy and sometimes you need to stop something because of that.

So I'm back. I can't guarantee a daily blog entry. I can't guarantee a weekly one either. But I can say that now that I'm in the habit of writing at least once a month, I'm going to try and keep it up here.

I've missed my blog. It's like an old friend.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


The title says it all. I haven't written in months again and a large portion of that is due mind blank.

Cows got moved in May, kids are growing as fast as the weeds in my garden (which is suspiciously the wrong color of green-quack grass green to be exact), and I'm loving my lawnmower now that we did some landscaping so I've now got lawn instead of thistle patches and dirt piles. Hay is being cut/raked/baled/hauled/wrapped, corn is being cultivated, and if the level of milk in the bulk tank is any indication, there are large black/white/brown/gray animals being milked on a regular basis.

In short, it's life as usual.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Howdy, It's Been A While Hasn't It?

Sorry. Life has a way of taking up my time of late and I'm writing a monthly column for a family newsletter too that seems to suck up my grand post ideas. After all, I don't want to repost things that family are reading so it's hard to write without overlapping topics. Multitasking is not my forte and this extends to writing these days.


What's been happening over here? Not much. Just the usual. Same ol' same ol'.

Spring has apparently started to tippy toe into the area so we are playing musical parking spots. If we don't, one's vehicle needs to have 4 wheel drive capabilities to even think of moving in any direction other than down and even then, it's iffy you'll budge. So we're parking hither and yon in the dry-er spots in the hopes that Mother Nature will take pity on us and dry up our parking area enough to again park vehicles without digging ruts to China.

This also means the driveway is the usual grease slide, I'd be wearing rubber boots everywhere if I had a pair without a hole in them (it's #1 on my list to get next time I'm in town), and every vehicle in our fleet have turned to the oh-so-glamorous Muddy Brown.

Oh yeah, and the Electrical Gremlin that lives under the hood of my barn wheels has come up with a sorta nifty new trick to add to his/her repertoire. I now have automatic headlights-which is nice when one drives after dark but it's not so nice when you park because they don't turn off. The only way to turn them off is to pop the hood and unhook the battery cable. Fun. (Sarcasm there...)

Aside from that? We're busy. Tractors need tinkering, fertilizer needs ordering, seed needs choosing, cows need milking, houses need cleaning, kids need raising, laundry need washing, food needs cooking, and life needs living.

Like I said, same old same old.