Enviously I read as my friend from Upstate New York tells me about the lambs born on the farm at which she volunteers. As usual with sheep, one of the three who birthed so far this season has rejected her babies. So, there’s bottle feeding going on.
Envious? Yes! For years, spring was marked by a big box by the woodstove with a warming lamb, by having a bottle fed baby follow us around the ranch, by me never being found without a beer bottle close at hand with a rubber nipple on the end and filled with milk replacer. I haven’t done this in years, and I do miss it. Perhaps memory has tarnished the pain in the neck that this can be. But I do recall, even then with the interrupted sleep for so many weeks, thoroughly enjoying it.
Some of us just thrive on those things. What is it? The farm baby thing? It’s probably the same with folks who breed and raise cats and dogs. I’ve never done that. Imagine it’s just as exciting, busy, purposeful and satisfying.
Looks like our next baby due will not be born here at the ranch, but down on winter pasture in the valley, 80 miles and 2 ½ hours away. I’ll probably miss it, which as you can imagine, I hate to do. That’s just how things got going here over the past few years, and you have to roll with the punches sometimes. Lots of punches around this place, with a family feud over the land, and the three of us caught in the middle of it. But no matter, we’ll be down at times, but we won’t be out. As my mom usued to tell me, “This too will pass.”
So, our little cow herd spends the winter off the mountain. I imagine lower elevation, less snow, and more grass please them just fine. Bet they don’t miss me one bit.
But tell me, can you call three cows a herd? Or is three still just pets? Because that’s all we’ve got at this point. Three girls. Three long haired, big horned, fuzzy, furry, red Highland cows. Yes, I suppose just pets…
But a slowly growing number of pets. One is due to calve any day now, and she and her daughter who is now coming on two, will both be eligible for babies next year. And then the following year, all three girls can have babies. You can do the math. It’s going to take a while to grow a herd this way, but not all of us were lucky enough to have family hand us these things on a silver platter. We’re working for it all, very slowly, with lots of mistakes, but lots of pride and pleasure. And once again, working so hard for it makes it all the sweeter. And makes it ours.
Our three girls: Mama Katrina; her first born, the one coming on two, is Rio’s Cyndee; and the daughter born last year, Rio’s Freddie. The girls spent the winter on valley pasture with our work horses. But knowing how one of those geldings just loves to chase the calves, and knowing how my luck has been of late, we decided to “relocate” the girls for calving season. Just one calf due, I know, but I’m still calling it calving season.
So, early last week Bob and Forrest headed off the mountain and wrassled up the herd. All the three of them. Now the girls are now on pasture with a bunch of other cows, real cows, a real herd, at least 50 of them, some of them already calving.
And in just a few days, we should be the proud owners of a herd of four!