beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

beatrice: braveheart, bold or just plain bad?

You’ve been spotted – don’t think she’s going to let you get away

Here she comes… who’s she?? It’s beatrice…

xxxxxxpet me ladyxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxor I’ll butt your knees

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Come on lady, I don’t have all day – What are you waiting for??

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This weekend, I had to break down and mow some grass.  I admit it; I have developed a Scrooge-ish double hatred of mowing grass. First because now that I have cows to feed, grass = food.  Mowing grass feels like throwing food away and I have a real issue with  that.  Second because I hate wasting gas on something that could easily be performed by hand or by animal and that bugs me too. It was some green, juicy grass; the men would have happily done that job.

But alas, that field isn’t fenced and won’t be for a while, so while it pained me to do it, I had to break down and mow. But that’s not really the story.

The story is Beatrice.  Beatrice is one wacky heifer.  I thought Honey was the one who would end up knocking me on my can one day. But next to Beatrice, Honey is darn near shy.

Talk about gawky & awkward … here’s honey in all her teen-aged glory. All the calves go through a homely phase between one and two years, but my goodness. With a leggy, all elbows and knees look like this, surely she’ll be a supermodel one day…

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Honey went through a quad-chasing phase which was both funny and alarming, but she seems to have outgrown it. But even at her sassiest, Honey has a healthy respect for tractors, weed-whackers and other scary machinery. And the other “normal” calves? They stay far, far away from all that stuff.

Beatrice’s first week, she left the herd and her mom and chased the tractor all the way up the hill and to the gate after I delivered hay one morning. I had to get down and chase her away by flapping my arms, jumping around and yelling just so I could drive the tractor through the gate. And don’t think she took that without some head shaking sass.

The next unusual Beatrice encounter was when I had to take the weed-whacker and trim the grass under the electric fence. Most of the calves (and cows) are rightly fearful of me  with this scary-looking noisy gadget and keep their distance.  Not Beatrice.  She actually chased after me and wanted to get her face right into the action. Very odd.

Yesterday was the first time the calves have seen the brush hog at work. It’s noisy. And most calves think it’s scary.  Not you-know-who.

Beatrice saw that rig coming and ran right up to get a better look.  She chased me all the way along the fence line and looked really sad when I turned and drove away.  I can tell right now, pasture mowing will be a bit of a challenge with Beatrice around.

Are you talkin’ to me??

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Remember Beatrice’s kidnapping incident? I may owe Zay an apology accusing her of kidnapping and all. As unlikely as it was, Beatrice is just the sort of girl to sneak out and party all night leaving her mom crazy with worry….. sorry Zaymonster!

How to Live a Life of No Regrets

How to Live a Life of No Regrets

Monday Moo-sings: In which we share random farm happenings, snapshots & recipes

 

xOnly one way to take Beatrice’s picture: catch her when she’s sleeping…

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“There is only one thing about which I shall have no regrets when my life ends.  I have savored to the full all the small, daily joys.  The bright sunshine on the breakfast table; the smell of the air at dusk; the sound of the clock ticking; the light rains that start gently after midnight; the hour when the family come home; Sunday-evening tea before the fire!  I have never missed one moment of beauty, not ever taken it for granted.  Spring, summer, autumn, or winter.  I wish I had failed as little in other ways.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-Agnes Sligh Turnbull

Play, eat, sleep, repeat. These kids definitely savor to the full all the small, daily joys.

Babies like to nap together on a big pile of hay. Bovine daycare for frazzled Moms.

Fritz & Google rise & shine

Suzette is a perfect lady, always polite and demure

Max says a good power nap and a few big stretches works wonders

Why do we call him Google? No idea except he’s kind of funny. Check out those teeth!

Bess says just because she’s a year old now doesn’t mean she isn’t funny anymore…

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Well Bess, I can’t deny the truth in that. You ARE a funny girl.  OK people, you have your mission. What small, daily joys have you appreciated?

two hellos and a kidnapping

two hellos and a kidnapping

Monday Moo-sings: In which we share random happenings, snapshots & recipes

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I don’t know if you noticed I stood you up last Thursday, but it’s been a little exhausting around here. I know we’re small. Two calves in one day is no big deal on a large farm. But you haven’t met these calves. I know Milking Devons make some amazing milk, but these moms must make rocket fuel.

Just after dawn, Molly says hello to little Max

The first day for new babies is usually kind of quiet – being born is tough business and they spend much of that day tucked into a warm place getting some battery-charging sleep.  But the second and third days, look out. Those poor moms spend hours running after their kids trying to get them to listen. Which doesn’t work any better for cow moms than it does for human ones. The more the calves get chased, the more fun the game. I haven’t figured out how to tell the Ladies if they just turned and walked away, those babies would run right back.

Of course, along with the exhaustion are some moments of heart-warming charm and  cuteness. Like this morning, when all three babies were playing inside the barn. Chasing each other around the posts, zooming around the corners, jumping and bucking like puppies with wild eyes and tongue-lolling grins.

Both Bling and Molly had their babies on Thursday. Molly early in the morning, Bling late in the evening.  Molly’s kind of a pro and a bit wild at heart, so she passed on the maternity ward and chose instead to hide in the brush pile.  I knew I’d find a baby when I couldn’t find Molly.  Now, you’d need to see her to appreciate just what a wide load Molly is. And if you did,  you’d see what a feat it is for her to make herself invisible. Since it was a warm, dry and sunny day, Molly and Max spent their first day napping together in the sun.

For Bling, it was a different kind of day.

Bling is young and this is just her second calf. She’s such a goofball, with her funny way of always seeming surprised, it’s hard to know what to expect from her. She was fussy all day, pacing up and down and going off by herself. She was still fussing at dinnertime and I wanted to be able to grab her if things weren’t going well, so I locked her inside the barn and everyone else out.

After a few hours of discomfort and fussiness, hello Beatrice!  Once she was up, licked & fed, I was able to lock them inside a stall. Then, everyone else could come back in for the night and I could finally head in for my dinner.

Friday morning, all’s looking good – the Ladies are outside eating hay and Bling’s looking perky but calm, peeking over her stall for room service.  Zay, as usual, was trolling around outside the stall looking for ways to steal Bling’s breakfast.

I didn’t see the baby right away, but the hay was piled up pretty high, and napping babies tuck down pretty low.  Since Bling wasn’t fussing, there didn’t seem to be any cause for alarm.  But, when I filled the water buckets and I still couldn’t see any little lumps, I went in and started pawing through the hay.  I still can’t believe it, but it’s true. No baby. Anywhere inside the barn.

Now, clearly it’s not impossible, but pretty unbelievable.

Trying not to panic, I head out towards the herd at the hay bales.  Where could she be? Well, over by the bales, tucked into the brambles was a tiny lump. There she was, curled up, all alone, taking a power nap.  How did she get there? It’s such an unlikely hike for a brand newbie with no clue about where she is.  Well, I have no witnesses, but I’m pretty sure I know what went down.

Little Beatrice hidden in the brambles

I haven’t told you much about our Zay-monster. Good thing she’s so amazingly beautiful, because her only other endearing quality is the fact that she’s such an outstanding mother.  So outstanding in fact, she steals other Lady’s babies.

Suki had her baby first this year, and she doesn’t take crap from Zay. Molly’s a little scared of Zay, but she hasn’t forgotten her wild ways and still has a few tricks up her sleeve. But Bling? Bling’s no match for a troll like Zay.

Bling takes candy from strangers, and will tell anybody anything if they scratch her chin and tell her how pretty she is. It seems Bling’s little one slipped out under the gate and Zay spirited her off and hid her in the brambles.

Unscathed by her adventure, little Beatrice wasn’t having any parts of letting me get close enough to pick her up and carry her back to her mom in the barn.  So, I went for plan B – lock up the kidnapper and turn Bling out for some undisturbed maternal bonding.  Happy mom that she is, Bling went running straight to Beatrice & resumed her so rudely interrupted motherly duties.

The alleged kidnapper behind bars...not looking very remorseful to me..

and left....

Bling chases Beatrice right...

and does her best to tell Beatrice not to take rides from strangers

Whew – another day survived with just a few minor incidents.  Soon enough these little ones will pick their own favorite spots, stop crashing into the fences and become much more predictable.  Can’t happen soon enough for me.

We need a nap!

in which we smile: an ode to joy

in which we smile: an ode to joy

How can you be grumpy in the face of this much joy?

I admit I was in a bit of a hurry this morning and not pleased about this everlasting mud. I was rushing to get the hay delivered while the ground was at least a tiny bit frozen.

Despite my hurry, I couldn’t help but stop and appreciate this little pleasure.

She’s one happy heifer with a busy schedule full of running, jumping & discovering

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Our newest little one hasn’t seen the hay delivery yet.  In fact, she hasn’t seen anything before and each discovery seems to be a new delight for this playful and happy-natured girl.

Now you see her…xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxNow you don’t.  Pretty quick….

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Inspector Honey at work. did You think she was going to mind her own business?

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Only the hardest heart would not be lifted…

in which Suki does it her way

in which Suki does it her way

Suki's newest little one

Nag, nag nag. That’s what I heard Suki saying to her good friend Zay the other day. I’m sure they were talking about me, but that’s OK.

I was only suggesting that the weather was balmy and dry which is a rare stroke of luck in February, don’t you think?  If you’re going to have a baby anyway, wouldn’t it be a good idea to pick a warm, sunny day?

What-ever. With lots of eye-rolling.  OK, Suki, do it your way.

So she did. Last night I was pretty sure we’d be meeting our new friend today. So, I gave Suki her own room. Before dawn when I checked this morning, everyone was inside except guess who? Suki.  Somehow, Suki managed to escape and off she went by herself to take care of her very important business.

Fortunately, I have been placing big bales of hay in wind-sheltered places just in case. One mostly eaten bale in the most sheltered spot offered the perfect, fluffiest bed.  Since Suki may well be my smartest cow, I was pretty confident that’s where she’d be.

Hello, hello.

It was still dark but quiet and still. I grabbed my lantern and set off over the hill. And sure enough, that’s where she was with her new little calf. Dried, fed and taking a nap. Very, very far from the barn.

While Suki enjoyed a special breakfast, I carried our new friend up to the barn. A long snow-covered uphill hike carrying about 40 pounds of awkward, squirming calf. And, let me just say – this morning I have no doubt I’m not twenty-six anymore.

We were just in time because as soon as Suki & Co. were safely tucked inside and buried in hay, the wind whipped up and things took a turn for the nasty.  So our little friend is getting a challenging start to his/her new life, but so far, so good.

The pinkest ears I've seen yet.... probably trying to figure out how to get back inside that warm cozy cocoon - this place is COLD!

One down, six more hellos to go…

Like babies? Check out some other hellos:

In which we say hello
in which we say hello again and again and again
in which whine enough already
in which Sprite gets game
in which we begin a new round of hellos
in which we say hello Sammy
in which we say a surprised hello

in which our Honey packs a punch

in which our Honey packs a punch

Our funny Honey - a tiny rocket of head shakin' sassiness. Not ladylike to clean your nose with your tongue in public you say? Honey couldn't care less what you think of her rowdy and uncivilized ways. She couldn't be happier with her grubby tomboy self.

It’s only recently that I have been lucky to count cows among my circle of acquaintances.  One of the things I really wanted to know was what kind of emotional life they honestly have.

And, if you’ve been following this blog, I hope I have convinced you that cows do have an inner life. They form and sustain friendships, they play, they enjoy learning new things, appreciate novelty, harbor resentments and remember unpleasantness.

Cows definitely know their favorite people and without question show affection and extend friendship. Many eyes are watching me all the time as I go about my routine.  Of course, the fact that I am the source of any and all handouts makes me more attractive in my cows’ eyes too.

Honey & Rose. Two peas in a pod, both sassy and funny, but while Rose is more sugar than spice, Honey is red-hot.

Cows take immense pleasure in simple joys like a sunny fall day, plentiful spring grass, personal space, apples on the trees and a good, hard back scratch. And they obviously suffer anxiety, stress and depression when these pleasures are lacking.

Cows are also repetitive and predictable which is both a help and an annoyance. It’s an asset because they’re easily trainable, but oh my, can they try your last nerve when their rigidity jams up important farming business.  Especially when you’re in a hurry.

We’re now on our third crop of calves and this year, for the first time, some of the steer are indistinguishable in both appearance and behavior.  I have to admit I’m not completely sure which steer belongs to what cow.

Rose & Honey - see why I call Honey a munchkin? That's OK; Honey is huge with confidence

Of course, every year one calf or another is a standout.  Bling was a real character from day one and continues to crack me up nearly every day.  Sally’s daughter Saralee is a perky, sweet and funny girl too.  Our bull Rocco is personality packed and seems to have passed a certain liveliness on to all his calves.  Ruby’s girl Rose is perky and pretty and has a really endearing way about her.  Same for Sally’s Sammy – unusually cuddly and sweet.  But oh, my; that Honey!

Honey was a pistol from Day One.  She was born late, so she was really a munchkin compared to her pasture mates.  Today, I’m not sure if she really is tiny or if it’s just by comparison to the others who are all older and similar in size.

No matter, being youngest and tiniest doesn’t slow Honey down one bit.  She’s a mighty mite; clever, bold and bursting with head-shaking sassiness.  Most calves are cautious and tentative to attempt new things. Not Honey; she jumps in first and with all four hooves. Honey figures things out lightening fast and is front and center for any new game or activity. Often it’s Honey leading the big girls instead of the other way around.

Honey leads the daily quad inspection...

New straw in the shed? Honey knows all about it.  New mineral block? Honey’s licked it.  New bale of hay? Honey’s already got her head stuck in it.  If there’s a tussle going on, Honey’s in the middle of it or at least running around the edges shaking her head and throwing in the last kick when nobody’s looking.

The other calves don’t want to play? Honey’s not taking no for an answer. She gives a few good head butts to her napping friend until it’s clear that nap is not going to happen. Slowly, they get up and give her a chase half-hearted though it may be.

But, her funniest game is one that I’ll probably never be able to get on film.    I use a quad to do lots of my daily pasture chores, and the cows are all taken with it for some reason.  But Honey’s taken her interest one step further; Honey is a world-class quad chaser.   She’ll literally run right beside me, flatten out and stretch her stride like a Thoroughbred; neck and neck. She actually looks me straight in the eye and sometimes she tries to cut in front to block me.

She’s not the first to think up the idea, but she has taken the sport to new heights. She’s sumpin’…

What are you lookin' at?