in which one of these cows is not like the others

in which one of these cows is not like the others

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our funny, sassy Miss Honey. At the time, she was about as spunky a heifer as I’d met.  But, as often happens when you start measuring things and attaching labels, something new comes along to prove you’re all wrong.

One of these cows is not like the others

This young heifer, part of the neighbor’s handsome Angus herd, decided she was ready to take on the world by herself. She had big dreams and was ready to head out for the bright lights and big city.

One of these cows just doesn’t belong

Well, reality was a bit scarier than expected and this little lady decided she’d had enough roughing it on her own.  But, by the time she found her way back home, her family had gone; moved back to their winter address. So, she opted for Plan B and decided to join the Ladies.

Can you tell which cow is not like the others

The Ladies are kind in their way, but they aren’t too charitable to give this strange hornless heifer the Cinderella treatment.

She’s not quite so Sassy these days, but she’s far from beaten.

Miss Sassy thinking I can't see her....

Remember Sesame Street? Photo captions are adapted from One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others), words and music by Joe Raposo and Jon Stone. I dare you not to hum it  all day…

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?

In which we’ve got bumps

In which we’ve got bumps

Sprite's sporting her second bump. Are you looking?

Baby bumps that is. When did the world become so interested in baby bumps? I’m not sure I get it, but then it is true I often don’t. In the days when women suffered from the “vapours”, a lady wouldn’t dream of strutting around flaunting a bulging belly like we do today. Of course, pretty much everything else women are free to do today would be off-limits to those vapid ladies too.

Well, neither the Ladies nor I are hardcore Libbers, but we are grateful for all our modern freedoms and choices. Thanks all you Freedom Warriors before us who made it all possible. We’re ever so grateful for your courage and sacrifices.

Bling made sure I got her bump from all angles she's so proud. What a ham!

Our Ladies have an odd blend of progressive and not-so-progressive in their approach to life. Apparently, in the cow world, having babies is a huge status symbol. They all strive to be mommies and seem to enjoy it tremendously. You’d have to see the pleasure these Ladies show while nursing their calves; I truly believe they have achieved Zen.

In a free cow’s world it is true that a female leads the herd. I admit to being somewhat surprised by this. The bull

Femme is a compact cutie. She looks young for her age; this is her second bump. Of all the Ladies, she was the sweetest, happiest mom and most dedicated babysitter to all the calves.

tends to watch things carefully and quietly from the middle of the herd while he decides how to best handle the situation. If you aren’t familiar with herd life, you might not notice him right away which may not end up so well for you.

More baby daddy than paternal one, no one relishes all the pleasures life has to offer more than Rocco.

Our Rocco is the first calf born on this farm and he is a colorful character. Definitely more a baby daddy than a paternal one, he spreads himself fairly among all the ladies. But he’s pretty companionable with the steer and the little ones too.

The Ladies step aside to give him the best of whatever there is and he isn’t shy about giving a solid shove to anyone too slow about it. Rocco seems pretty satisfied with the way life has turned out for him; lots of pretty ladies, plenty of good grass, fluffy straw beds all winter and freedom to roam and explore. And, the apple trees!

He also enjoys the company of the steer and a good-natured tussling session is held most evenings. I was surprised also by how much the steer enjoy each others company and how kind they usually are to one another. Rocco prefers to hang out with the boys when he has no pressing lady business. And, he’s just as likely to plop down and nap with the babies for a spell. Overall, Rocco is a sunny and personality packed fellow who spreads himself around.

More Bling bump! That's one goofy girl. She's actually trying to convince me to give her a butt scratch. We expect a total of 9 babies beginning very early this spring. Hannah, Sally and Ruby aren't showing bumps yet; they aren't far enough along, but according to Rocco, his work is done.

I wrote once before about our decision to keep a bull. In these days of Artificial Insemination, it isn’t necessary to keep an unpredictable bull around and many farmers don’t. We do for a few reasons. Since one of my primary goals is to allow these cows to show me just how capable they are of managing themselves, I always prefer the least intrusive, least human driven method of management possible. And, I just can’t ignore the lives bulls working as AI sires lead. Maybe not so bad for the Big Name Bull of the Season, but the lesser bulls really have an unfortunate life.

Rocco knows way more than I do about when the Ladies are ready. Rocco lets me know pretty early when the Ladies are settled. With his help, our babies have all been right on time.

Suki wants to make sure you see her bump too...

So, now we’ve all got bumps and the Ladies seem content. They’re ready now to part ways with this year’s babies to prepare for next years’. And Rocco seems pretty pleased with himself. As usual….

I like to say our Zay is the Pamela Anderson of cows. Somehow, she makes motherhood look hot. And all the boys seem to agree... check out that brisket!

And my goodness. What can I say about this? Gigunda? Humongous? Big, honking, mountainous bump? Say what you like; Molly could care less what you think. She couldn't be more pleased with her huge self. Pass the apples please!

In which we say a surprised hello

In which we say a surprised hello

Who says Hannah is too old? Welcome Hannah's new little girl.....

Who says Hannah is too old? Welcome Hannah’s new little girl…..

Hannah, Mrs. B, Hannah Banana, whatever we call her, Hannah is a girl who knows just how awesome she is. The only one of the Ladies who answers to her own name, Hannah is truly the matriarch of our herd.

She came to us from New Hampshire with her daughters Ruby and Sprite, son Hodil and granddaughter Sally.

Her contribution to our herd has been multiplied many, many times. Ruby has given us Regina and Rose, Hodil is father to nearly all of our calves this year and will be again next year. Sally has had Saralee and Sammy and Sprite has given us Spritzer. Last year, Hannah had another girl, Hannabelle and now, today, wonder of wonders, the old girl did it again.

Though Hannah was with Rocco the bull all winter, we really didn’t expect Hannah to have any more babies. I guess she showed us who’s too old. Hannah is very proud of her role as a mother and apparently isn’t about to give it up.

I wish we could teach all our daughters to be as free of self doubt as Hannah. With an udder like a saggy bag of rocks, wrinkly ankles like loose pantyhose and long, flat feet, it would be easy for Hannah to focus on her flaws and lose self esteem surrounded as she is by young, gorgeous Ladies.

But that’s not Hannah’s style; she frets not one bit – she knows she’s got it going on. She sashays her wide self right into the center of all the action and everyone had better just step back and make room.

Having Hannah for a mother is the best advantage a calf can get...

Having Hannah for a mother is the best advantage a calf can get…

More handsome than beautiful, Hannah is a large, imposing Lady with a rich, chestnut coat and stately posture. A couple of blinks of her big, brown eyes and you’ll do whatever she says.  She is a great girl and has been such a help teaching the younger Ladies the ropes. Like the advantage gained by attending the best prep school, any calf gets a boost from being Hannah’s kid.

Here she is, minutes old, getting ready to make her first effort to stand up. Hard to manage those big feet and legs at first....

Here she is, minutes old, getting ready to make her first effort to stand up. Hard to manage those big feet and legs at first….

Today’s young Lady looks like she’s off to a bright start – we expect great things from Hannah’s calves. She’s already got her eye on her sister Rose – I can see those two beauties will be fast friends as soon as our new girl is allowed to go off and play.

Welcome little Lady!

A new baby is an exciting event for the herd. Everyone needs to see the new kid. Then, excitement over, it’s back to work everyone!

In which we say: hello Sammy

In which we say: hello Sammy

Sally and Sammy enjoying a few days of room service

Is it wrong for me to have a favorite Lady?

I’m not admitting it or anything, but if I did have a favorite and if I told you who it is, you’d probably be surprised because we don’t talk about her much.

Some of the Ladies are hambones and always in the middle of the action and some of them are not.  Sally isn’t a flashy girl, but she is pure, sweet and true and we’re crazy about her.

It took me a while to figure her out when she first came – I wasn’t familiar with the ways of cows and she was a little different from the others. Neither a leader or a follower, Sally holds her own without being mean or bullying.

Sally is a little shy and still doesn’t like direct eye contact.  You have to be paying attention to understand that when she comes close and looks at your feet, she wants you to spend time with her. She really likes being around us and loves to be talked to and groomed.

There’s never been a been a kinder, more devoted mother than Sally, two-legged or four. 

Last year, Sally had her first calf, a heifer named Saralee.  Saralee is a real charmer and a sweet girl herself. Saralee was born in August during the hottest, most miserable weather of the summer.  True to form,  this year, Sally was again the last Lady to deliver and while it was in July this time, it was still the hottest, most miserable weather of the summer. The poor girl can’t get a break! But Sally never gets grumpy or complains.

Sammy on the move…..

 

This year, Sally had a boy. He’s peppy, chubby and really, really shiny. He has an especially beautiful coat just like his dad, Rocco, had as a calf.  We sort of joke that Rocco was super-calf racing around as soon as he hit the ground (I say sort of because it was no joke – Rocco was super charged). It appears this little fellow is a chip off the old block.

He kept everyone on edge his first day because he kept slipping out of the pasture and running off. Poor Sally was bawling and running around too. What could I do? A little house arrest was in order, so back to the barn for a few days of bonding.

He needed a little time for Sally to teach him the ropes before returning to the great outdoors. Sally was happy to have a few days of room service and we got the opportunity to get to know this sassy new kid better.  Happy to say, the plan was a success and Sally and Sammy have returned to their pasture.  Sammy’s a busy fellow learning all about running, bucking and kicking and chatting up Ladies. And respecting boundaries.

Welcome Sammy!

Sammy recharging his battery….