Posted by: highmountainmuse | April 6, 2009

The cow herd

 

An older photo of my "starter cow herd."  We have since sold the big daddy bull, and have a new little red cow born last summer.

An older photo of my "starter cow herd." We have since sold the big daddy bull, and have a new little red cow born last summer.

 

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!

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Responses

  1. Our two steers certainly consider themselves a “herd”. But a herd who just loves handouts and scratches. Maybe your Highlands and our Longhorns are herds of pets.
    Our guys make up some sort of cosmic pact – a counterbalance for the worlds mistreatment of cattle – a couple who get to live out the length of their natural lives.
    We bottle raised one of them, and I too so miss those little hooves clattering around behind me.

  2. […] High Mountain Musing placed an interesting blog post on The cow herdHere’s a brief overview  An older photo of my “starter cow herd.” We have since sold the big daddy bull, and have a new little red cow born last summer.   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 t […]

  3. What beauties. I miss my highlander; he was such a sweetie…

    We lost him due to a turned stomach as a calf and it was heartbreaking.

  4. Gosh, Maggie – I’m so sorry! I am sure that was heartbreaking. Is this unusual, the turned stomach?

  5. It’s called displaced abomasum and it can happen from time to time; I’m not sure that it is unusual. I think it is most prevelant in dairy animals. Don’t worry – most times you’ll see your animal go off it’s feed in time and the vet can take care of it. Because our guy was so young it took him pretty swiftly, before we could notice a serious problem and get him taken care of…

  6. Maggie, there are crazy things that can happen. We can’t be prepared for them all. I understand this, as with the loss of the foal last year, and the same bacteria striking again this year. Living on the land, we are closer to life, closer to death. I believe you, too, would not give that up, harder as it may be some times.

  7. Very true; the closer we are to one, the closer we are to the other. And I’ve always thought that the amazing stuff out weighs the hard stuff! I can’t imagine living any other way!

    🙂

  8. That picture is precious. Look at that big fuzzy baby head! Just curious, what purpose do you have for the Highlanders? I’m really ignorant when it comes to all that is cow and cattle.

    I DO know that calves are cute and that watching them run is probably one of my favorite spring pastimes. So wobbly and awkward.

  9. I want to raise my own beef again. Natural grass fed beef. These furry cows are great for grass fed beef. No finishing out or feed lots necessary. Though I’ll question if that is ever really necessary. Figure if the Queen of England can insist on Highland Cattle, I can be happy with them too.

    I hope this does not dissapoint Cyndee to know we plan on eating our bovine offspring one day. I figure it’s a good life for the them while they are alive, without being stuck in the feed lot and all, and it also enables us to be that much more responsible for what we consume and what’s on our table. Remember your goal of providing at least a meal a week completely “home grown?” This brings us one step closer.

  10. WHEN I WAS YOUNG ON THE RANCH MY FATHER WENT TO THE AUCTION AND GOT A YOUNG CALF .I MADE IT INTO A PET . I COULD GO OUT THE BACK DOOR AND WHISTLE AND SHE WOULD COME RUNNING .HER FAVORITE THING WAS TO LAY DOWN BESIDE ME AND HAVE HER HEAD SCRATCHED .WHEN WE HAD TO SELL THE RANCH SHE HAD TO STAY . A COUPLE OF YEARS LATER THE PEOPLE THAT BOUGHT THE RANCH CALLED AND SAID SHE HAD A CALF . I WENT BACK UP TO THE RANCH AND THE LADY SAID SHE DIDNT KNOW WHERE SHE WAS . SO JUST FOR FUN I WHISTLED . HERE COME THIS FULL GROWN COW RUNNING WITH A CALF BEHIND HER .WHEN SHE GOT TO ME SHE PUSHED THE CALF UP TO ME AS TO SAY LOOK HERE . I SAT DOWN AND SHE LAYED DOWN BESIDE ME TO HAVE HER HEAD SCRATCHED . THE CALF LOOK AROUND LIKE WHATS GOING ON . I ALMOST HAD TO BE DRAGGED AWAY TO GO HOME . I WENT BACK MANY TIMES AND IT WAS ALWAYS THE SAME. SHE AND NOW HER YOUNG HEIFER WERE BOTH PETS . WHEN WE MOVED AWAY I MISSED MY TRIPS TO THE RANCH SOMETIMES STILL TODAY I WISH I COULD GO BACK IN TIME TO A BETTER TIME AND PLACE .I WILL CHECK YOUR OTHER BLOG . WE ALSO HAD SOME WILD HORSES SOMEONE HAD TURNED LOOSE . BUT THATS FOR ANOTHER TIME

  11. Don, I had to read this story out loud to my boys. Wonderful! Can’t wait to hear about those horses…


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