Wherein Daisy (Hopefully) Gets Knocked Up

☆ May 25, 2010

demure daisy

It’s time for Daisy to get pregnant again!  Frisco is five months old and is still “on the teat,” so to speak, and I am still milking ~ but this has nothing to do with Daisy getting pregnant again.  In fact, if you notice the cycles of deer in the wild, you will know this is the way it works ~ deer have their fawns the first of June, nurse them through breeding season (November) when they become pregnant with another, kick their fawn off the teat the following spring when the new grass begins to grow, to give their bodies time to dry off and prepare colostrum for their new fawn, which is born at the beginning of June and the cycle continues.  So, the fact that Daisy is actively raising a calf while forming another inside is normal and natural.

The only thing that is not totally natural is the timing.  I am hoping to get Daisy bred now, instead of in the fall as the deer and elk do, so that she will calve the first of March, just before Mike’s cows do (cows have a gestation of roughly nine months).  This way, Daisy will be able to provide colostrum and fresh milk should any of Mike’s cows have twins or abandon their babies.  And for now, Mike calves in the early spring like the rest of the ranchers around here.

Daisy cycles every twenty-or-so days but there is just a tiny window of opportunity when she is READY to be impregnated.  We are doing artificial insemination because, quite simply, there are no dairy bulls around here.  And with AI, you can pick any breed of bull you fancy.  Since I am hoping for a girl-calf this time, and since, according to both Charlie and myself, there is no such thing as too much cream, I chose sperm from a strapping Jersey bull.  Daisy’s first calf was a heifer calf from a Jersey bull; her second calf is Frisco, via a Holstein bull.  This will be Daisy’s third pregnancy, if it takes.

The key sign that Daisy is ready to be AI’ed is that she will stand for a steer (castrated male) as he mounts her.  There are other signs.  More nebulous signs.  There is also a hormone one can give a cow to induce cycling but we’re going au natural.  I should have been watching Daisy and taking notes since Frisco’s birth, tracking her cycles over the last few months, but that would have entailed planning ahead, and, well, I’m still learning how to be good at such sensible stuff.  Therefore, I’ve been watching her obsessively ~ because this is my first time at this rodeo and because the man from whom I bought Daisy did mention that it was somewhat difficult to get her bred.

And so, after two weeks of watching Daisy, I saw on Saturday morning that she was standing, kind of, while being mounted by a steer.  OK, it was Frisco. Banish your ewww thoughts.  She was standing but kind of walking away so it wasn’t the exact stand I was on the lookout for, but it was very close.  Her time was close.  But I wasn’t sure how close.  And it was Saturday morning and I knew I had my own very small window of time in which to reach my vet before Monday (Monday, which would surely ~ or at least perhaps? ~ be too late), as his office closed at noon on Saturday for the weekend.

My vet has been on standby for nearly a month and on Saturday morning I couldn’t get ahold of him.  After a series of technical glitches far too boring to detail here but which felt, at the time, like one tragedy after another, I finally tracked him down on his cell phone late in the afternoon.  By that point, I had crossed the threshold into panic and started blurting out everything, saying eight things at once, making no sense whatsoever, and he interrupted me and said, in his calm, singsong voice, “Do youuu know where I ammm right now?”

I wish you could hear his voice.  It’s like the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.  He IS the Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland.  “No…” I answered, tentatively.  “I’m in my rrrazberry patch,” he said.  “Would you like some raspberries?”

I love raspberries, almost more than life, and so I momentarily ditched all thoughts of Daisy and my zealous blather became all about raspberries.  “Alllright!” he said, “I’ll bring you some raspberry starts when I come to do Miss Daisy.  I’ll see you tomorrow at eight.”  Click.

OK, Caterpillar, whatever you say.

Eight to the Caterpillar means nine but I went down to the corrals at 7:30 to wait for him.  I brushed Daisy from head to toe.  I made her a fertility adornment which she wore for the procedure: three long blades of new green grass braided together and secured to her topnotch with a pink hair elastic.  I paced around the corrals.  And then it was time.

The entire procedure took less than five minutes.  The vet took a thin straw of semen out of a huge tank filled with dry ice, warmed it in his armpit to get the swimmers swimming, and then gently threaded the straw through Daisy’s open cervix and set the swimmers free.

Daisy stood calmly, and that was that!  I, however, was a wreck.  I was hovering around while it was being done and after Daisy ate her fertility adornment and wandered off, and the vet left, I went home and drank warm milk in hopes of settling down.  I was absolutely wound, and so very anxious.  But this is just my cow.  If she doesn’t end up pregnant with this try, we will try again, and eventually, I am certain, it will take.  I simply cannot imagine enduring the tension and unknowingness and hope and chance that so many women must face each month in their own quest to get pregnant. 

My heart goes out to those of you who are in the midst of living this yourselves.

walking down the aisle

Comments

50 Responses to “Wherein Daisy (Hopefully) Gets Knocked Up”

  1. Carol
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Describing The Good Doctor S as the Caterpillar is SOOOOOO spot on! I shall always think of him like that now! If you want to learn to AI yourself… and not rely on him, wander by this weekend morning and eve… my kids will let you shove your arm up some cow!

  2. Alicia
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

    Awwww!!!! I hope it goes well! When will you know, for sure? Love the fertility adornment, too. :) How were the raspberries!?!

  3. Emily
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    If this takes, send me one of those fertility adornments- I sure need it! I can relate to all of those mixed emotions you were feeling on behalf of your sweet cow. Good luck!

  4. hello haha narf
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    praying for daisy. (and you.)
    i wish you could see the happy smile you put on my face. this was a wonderful, kind and loving post.

  5. Dave Robatcek
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:19 pm

    Your descriptions of life are simply amazing…

  6. Claudia
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:20 pm

    I’ll be thinking of Daisy and encouraging the little swimmers from afar! (hmm… thinking of Daisy in this context sounds an awful lot like “think of England”…)

    By the way, how wonderful that you got raspberry starts too! Those raspberries will go really nicely with all the milk and cream. :)

  7. Angela
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:25 pm

    Good luck, I’m sure everything will go fine!

  8. dusty
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:34 pm

    hahhaaa! oh – sorry – i should be sympathetic to your worry – but oh gosh you write well!

    here’s hoping the doc has to make only one visit!

    and thank you!

  9. Amy
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:35 pm

    I think this is one of my favorite stories yet. I was getting all anxious for you while reading! And those eyelashes are magnificent. What a beautiful animal you have there.

  10. Adrienne
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

    Sending best wishes for you and Daisy!
    I love her fertility hair ornament and I love even more the vet-as-caterpillar. =)

  11. kate
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

    Wow. I, for one, just learned WAY more about knocking up a cow than I ever thought I wanted to know! ;) What a fascinating process. Thank you for sharing your anxiety and hopes with us; it’s fun to live vicariously through you!

    Here’s hoping there’s a Jersey heifer in your near future!

  12. Trina
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Good luck to Daisy and swimmers. May they meet upstream and produce a lovlely heifer for you.

  13. Barbara
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

    What staggers me is how many hugs, (transmitted through the air and not physically of course) Daisy (and for that matter, Charlie et al) must have received. I can’t imagine that many of your readers don’t reach out to them as I do. In fact, on the vibrational plane, Charlie is probably the most hugged-by-humans coyote in history. Think of that!

  14. Wendy
    May 25th, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    “Daisy ate her fertility adornment and wandered off”

    For some reason, that is my absolute favorite part of the whole ordeal – which it clearly was for you! Placid, sweet, unconcerned Daisy, munching on her fertility charm lovingly crafted, while you were all anxious and nervous.

    I hope it took, dear Shreve, so you don’t have to go through it again for a while!

  15. Claudia
    May 25th, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

    Barbara — beautiful! :)

  16. Maren
    May 25th, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

    Thank you for the infertility sympathy. There is something about not being able to get pregnant that makes it seem like SUCH an impossible task. So many factors that must line up perfectly, charting to do (if you aren’t lazy…like me) and just waiting and anxiety. It is a wonder anything ever gets pregnant…until you do (I say this as I get the crap kicked out of my gut by my 35-week fetus…it isn’t impossible!)

  17. Paula
    May 25th, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    Shreve, I think I just fell head over heels for your life through your writing and photos. My heart is seriously filled with joy at the thought of another animal lucky enough to join your farmily. I definitely am sending huge hugs and nuzzles your way as well as the best of wishes for sweet Daisy. What a wonderful life!

  18. Sandy
    May 25th, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

    Heres to Daisy and how fun that she ate her fertility adornment,I live vicariously thru your blogs. I lived in Jackson WY and loved it there. This OB/RN will be hoping for a positive pregnancy for her.

  19. Rachel
    May 25th, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    haha. The expression on Daisy’s face is like “are we done yet?” “no, Daisy, we haven’t started” “humph…. well are we done now?”

    On a slightly (but not really, not at all) more serious note, I hope you successfully knocked up your cow!

  20. Rachel
    May 25th, 2010 @ 3:13 pm

    And yes I did get that expression from just her one eye, top of her head, and part of her ear.

  21. heather a.
    May 25th, 2010 @ 3:34 pm

    My husband and I are going through the getting pregnant quest at the moment. 5 months now. At first I was anxious and a nervous wreck every month. It feels like trying to get the planets to align. Then a lot of people told me to just let it go, and it would happen eventually. That the more I worried, the less chance I would have. So… I’m trying to let go, but it’s not so easy. Sometimes I think that (maybe) I would be OK with just having a “farmily” if the baby thing doesn’t happen for us. My husband wants a son SO BAD. I would love to have a baby (I want a boy too), but I’m trying as hard as I can not to let the lack of one on the way bother me.

    Good luck to Daisy! She’s such a great mom! I want to hug her. She looks like she gives such nice hugs. :)

  22. Evan
    May 25th, 2010 @ 3:41 pm

    Oh, thank you. This has been a bad day in mytechie job and I appreciate the delightful earthy visual of Daisy chopping on her fertility adornment. Good luck!

  23. Alexandra
    May 25th, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    Oh Shreve, I love how the love for the gorgeous Miss Daisy speaks out of all your posts about her.

  24. Wind River Marcia
    May 25th, 2010 @ 5:32 pm

    “Daisy’s first calf was a heifer calf from a Jersey bull”…THAT WOULD BE MY MOLLY COW!! I was obsessed with finding out if Molly was pregnant a few months after the bull had visited – tried the Preg-o-vet milk test with inconclusive results – but finally KNEW when at about 7 months along the unborn baby kicked me in the shoulder while I was milking…awaiting said baby mid-July.

  25. catherine
    May 25th, 2010 @ 5:47 pm

    Well, the Daisy hat ornament reminds me of an Isabella Bow hat. As we all know, Isabella Bow was Alexander McQueen’s muse. Both committed suicide. (not because of the hats ) The braiding of the grass and little rubber band is a combination of ” Freaks” the 1932 movie and a typical “Bow” hat inspiration . Well Done Shrieve !! That daisy needs a hat, a proper hat, let me rummage trough my collections and see if something is worthy of her new condition. She ate the ornament you said, something any hat maker should learn, “make hat eatable” in an emergency…. We are all hoping for a girl, lets cross our fingers !!!

  26. AZwhiskers
    May 25th, 2010 @ 6:08 pm

    Why not now a brown cow? Or why not inseminate with a Brown Swiss speciman? Just curious.

  27. mlaiuppa
    May 25th, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

    I love that Daisy got to eat her hair ornament. Is this part of the ‘ceremony’?

    And did she get any razzzzberries?

    I thought for a bit you were letting Sir Baby have the honors of husbandhood. I mean, if you’re going to go natural, why not all the way. Isn’t he about to enter a live of service to Mike and all?

    My best wishes to Ms. Daisy. Or Mrs. Daisy. May she be fruitful and multiply, may her time be easy and may she get the hang of the suckling thing easier this time around.

  28. Donna
    May 25th, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

    I have to tell you that was the most interesting thing I have ever read. It makes my day to first see what Charlie is up to and then flip over to this website and see what all the other animals are doing. I want to come back as one of your animals in my next life. Thank you for all the enjoyment you have given me.

  29. Donna
    May 25th, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

    Oops me again, I forgot to say, love. love Daisy’s eyelashes, any woman who kill to have those

  30. Danielle
    May 25th, 2010 @ 7:13 pm

    Hoping for Daisy just as much as anyone else. And I can’t believe Frisco is only five months old… it seems like we all have been following him for much longer than that!

  31. shreve
    May 25th, 2010 @ 7:15 pm

    AZwhiskers: A Jersey crossed with Daisy will make a brown cow. All the dairy breeds have different pros and cons, so to speak. And I wanted Jersey “pros” should I get a female calf. Simple as that!

    mlaiuppa: Sir Baby is an angus bull, a beef bull; Daisy is dairy. They’re quite different in form and function. Perhaps Daisy and Sir Baby will mate one day but in order to get a calf that will become a great dairy cow, which is what I am hoping for, the father really does need to be dairy also.

    Thanks one and all for your most wonderful words and well-wishes! It means so much to me.

  32. Mary
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

    No kidding, I’m with Emily (the third note-leaver). If it takes, I want one of those adornments, too.

  33. MaryK
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:25 pm

    A silly question: what would happen if Daisy were not to get pregnant. Does the milk stop? If you want milk, does that mean she has to have a calf every year? As she ages does that get harder on her like it does on us? How many years can you expect to have calves? Do you have a plan for all of them?

  34. Della
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:27 pm

    Yay for Jerseys! They’ve always been my favorite. They are the bovine version of an Arabian horse to me, with their dished faces and dainty legs. My Dad gave me a Jersey calf when I was 10yrs old, for helping out in the barn so much. She was born on Valentines day, so that was her name (Valentine) but I called her Tiny. My Dad did AI for years and I loved pouring over his bull books and riding around to all the different farms with him. When Tiny needed breeding, I Really poured over the bull books, choosing just the perfect Jersey bull. She was such a gentle sweet cow! I could crawl all over, under, and around her without a care. Her front ankles were so small that I could reach around them with my fingers. That makes them smaller than my wrists. I’d better stop before I write a book. I could really go on about cows… lol I hope Daisy took! :D

  35. Katiebug Ladydid
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:32 pm

    Hmmm, this sounds a bit familiar (but I’m trying to breed my dog, not a cow!)…hope you’re with calf soon!

  36. Steph in Oregon
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:34 pm

    I so enjoyed your telling of this adventure. The details… fertility adornment, Caterpillar, raspberry patch, semen straw…It’s all so exciting. If the timing is right, I can’t imagine she won’t be pregnant–you had a worldwide fertility dance going on.

  37. JoDi
    May 25th, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    I read a newsbite in a magazine the other day about a study showing that cows with names produce more milk, and it made me think of you and Daisy!

    Here’s an article about the study they did in the UK:
    http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2009/02/05/cow-milk-name.html

    Thanks for sharing your farmily with us. I really enjoy learning about a life so different from the one we live in the burbs!

  38. angie
    May 25th, 2010 @ 9:57 pm

    aah, the romance of warming semen in your armpit.

    i love her hairpiece, so cute.

  39. Beth
    May 26th, 2010 @ 4:27 am

    I am breeding the equine equivalent of Miss Daisy, and I believe what was missing is the fertility adornment, (Will try that for next go round tuesday)….Im right there with you in the wreck department…apperently it will be this way till the foal hits the ground then i can worry daily about it in person! ;0)ps my fav cow breeds are jersys and guernseys…but I do hold a special place for belted galways too( though those are mere beef cattle)

  40. Maia
    May 26th, 2010 @ 5:22 am

    Shreve, I understand completely. I’m going through the same thing with attempting to AI my mare. It’s enough to make you want to run screaming around the room or bang your head on a wall. Hang in there. My thoughts are with a fellow sufferer.

    PS: My granddad was a dairy farmer and he told my mother that the way he controlled the number of bulls he had was to impregnate his cows at the very beginning of their cycle. He said dairy farmers have known that forever.

  41. shreve
    May 26th, 2010 @ 7:17 am

    MaryK ~ Yes, calf = milk, no calf = no milk. Ages ago I read somewhere that cows love to be pregnant and caring for a new baby ~ and now that I’ve been observing them for a few years, I totally agree with that statement. It’s something very cow-ish. As far as how many years will Daisy create milk and babies ~ another ten years? Each cow is different but Mike has 18 year old cows that are fab mothers with healthy, lively calves. And giving birth doesn’t faze them. Cows are hardier stock than we….

    Beth ~ Dutch Belted are a dairy breed that look a lot like Belted Galloways ~ I LOVE them! Random internet pic here: http://www.dutchbelted.com/F%20&%20Shirley%2008.JPG

    Maia ~ WOW….awesome info….hmmmmmmm

  42. Assana
    May 26th, 2010 @ 8:22 am

    Good luck, miss Daisy! And secretly i’m hoping for a white baby! :)

  43. Cait
    May 26th, 2010 @ 8:27 am

    Can you make a durable necklace version of the fertility adornment and sell it on Etsy?

    I’ve been trying for about a year now. I just turned 36. I had to wait a long time to get the green light from all six of my doctors to start trying because of a kidney transplant, cervical cancer and other health issues.

    I just saw my fertility doc, and he said that my husband and I are totally healthy, reproductively speaking, and there isn’t a reason on Earth we shouldn’t be getting pregnant…so, have at it…

    I’m trying to be chill and not freak with counting days, tests, kits, thermometers, etc.

    But I think that a Wyoming cow fertility charm (perhaps a bit more durable than grass, since Denny my dog might eat it) is just what I need.

    Pleeeeeease????

  44. Cathy
    May 26th, 2010 @ 10:48 am

    I needed cheering up and, although this seems stressful for you, it lightened up my mood – especially when Daisy ate her fertility ornament. :)

  45. Tiny Tyrant
    May 26th, 2010 @ 11:55 am

    If the fertility adornment works send me a non-grass one (allergic lol).

    4 + years and using same method as your little miss. I’ll try anything at this point.

    Good luck.

  46. Chris
    May 26th, 2010 @ 11:55 am

    Great entry, as usual. Love the description of your laid-back caterpillar, raspberry-raising vet. He sounds like the calming type needed by jittery clients…

    The details about cow insemination and breeding are fascinating too. Anyone who thinks farming is an occupation that doesn’t engage one’s intellect… wouldn’t last long as a farmer.

    So sorry this is stressful for you. I’m always touched by the human ability to bond emotionally with animals: it is one of our species’ redeeming qualities. And definitely one of your strengths.

    You’re the matriarch of your Farmily; of COURSE you’re worked up. Have a milk bath and some raspberries in your new tub. Things WILL get better.

  47. Nimbrethil
    May 26th, 2010 @ 3:08 pm

    What breed of dairy cow is Daisy? And what are the pros of Jerseys as far as dairy cows go?

    I was under the impression that continually milking a cow kept her producing milk, even without a calf.

    At the time I’m a confirmed city gal (more city than I’d like, too, living in a studio on the fifth floor of an apartment building), but I’ve entertained notions of someday having some modest bit of land and keeping a miniature dairy cow.

  48. Carla
    May 26th, 2010 @ 6:03 pm

    I love these posts when you ramble on like an excited kid. They’re so heartfelt and fun to read. I love Charlie, but I’m starting to itch for a book about you, your home you built yourself, and your love affair with your darling cow, topknot and all. :o)

  49. Stephanie
    May 27th, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    I can remember going through something similar to get my mare AIed – the thing is though I was not stressed for her behalf, she was an old pro, and I wasn’t stressed that she would or wouldn’t take for timing purposes – I had all Spring work with after all I was stress out because I didn’t want to have to pay for it a again! Gah! I hope cows are cheaper than horses for you sake – that whole experience just about broke my @ss…

  50. moof
    June 1st, 2010 @ 6:36 pm

    Daisy ATE her fertility adornment?

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