A modern heritage foodstead
When I told you about my bullish week, did you hear the part where I said:
“I brought my oldest cow Hannah and her calf Henrietta to move in with Henry.”
Whoops – I fell behind and had so many things I wanted to tell you, I forgot to introduce you to Henrietta.
I guess because there wasn’t really much to tell. Hannah is such an old pro at motherhood, there’s never much fuss. I just found Hannah at breakfast with Henrietta all washed and fed, napping at Hannah’s feet. For a few days, I was a little concerned because while Hannah is always dutiful, she didn’t seem to be showing Henrietta the same enthusiasm she had for Hodil, Hannabelle and Honey.
Of course, it’s been about a gazillion degrees with high humidity – who’s got enthusiasm for much of anything these days? But Henrietta is not going to be denied. She is a full throttle flirt and she’s working it with all she’s got.
Ruminating over my failure with Henry, I decided that my problem was the omission of a critical step of training all the earlier calves had benefited from. They all were kept in a pasture adjoining this barn and were taught to come inside when I called. So, on trailer loading day, when they were called to the barn, coming inside was no strange deal. Before they knew anything unusual was happening, everyone was on board the trailer.
Henry didn’t get a chance to do this because when he was born we had moved the cows into their new pastures and since he had to part company with any heifers (another bull management complication), Henry was eased in with the older steer wintering in the back pasture instead of coming to the barn pasture with the girls. The barn Henry is familiar with is the shed that Ellis so recently redecorated.
Teaching a group of calves is a frustrating and ridiculous maneuver at first, but cows are so amazingly trainable. Once they get their places and pecking order worked out amongst themselves, the only trouble you ever have is when you jam it up yourself by losing patience and interfering with their preferred social order. And it’s a big help if you have an experienced cow to lead the way.
Hannah is getting older and as much as she loves to be in the middle of all the action, she just isn’t all she used to be. She can use a little extra help in the calorie department, and a reduction in the amount of ground she has to cover to keep up with the gang. Also as she ages and loses status in the herd, she no longer qualifies for the best spot at the hay bale. An A-lister all her life, today Hannah has to wait in line with the rest of the B-listers.
It’s time for Hannah to stop having to shove her way to a meal, so I’ve given her a new job. She’s headmistress of the calf training program. Hannah’s new job is to teach the younger ones how to enter and exit the barn in an orderly way on demand.
So far, so good. I think she was a little miffed at first that she wasn’t going to be meeting Ellis – she certainly did her best to make sure he knew she was available. Hannah definitely wasn’t crazy about being penned up with the year old heifers – she says they’re boring. But Henry? She says he’ll be okay.
They are a funny, misfit little family – I really get a kick out of seeing them together. They’re showing sweet little signs of attachment and Henry has been intently watching Hannah walk inside for her dinner every morning and night. Hannah likes to be inside her barn and Henry has noticed. Soon enough he’ll be bugged that he’s missing something and he’ll want to come in too – cows are predictable that way. All I have to do is stay out of Hannah’s way.
And Henrietta? Remember what I said about her?
“Well, she’s just happy anywhere. That heifer is pure sass & sunshine and is busy wrapping Henry right around her tiny cloven hoof.”
It couldn’t be more true. She’s especially engaging. Rocco calves have been very positive, peppy and sunny in temperament and Henrietta is no exception.
Henrietta, Miss Hen, Little Hen, Little Red Hen, Happy Hen; girl’s got a lot of names… apparently I’m smitten…