Hey Jupiter

☆ July 1, 2014


A new baby has joined the Farmily. Maia, Daisy’s adopted calf from 2012, had her first calf a few weeks ago. I’ve often said that cows are the best mothers, but sometimes they aren’t. And Maia has been the absolute worst. She had an easy birth on a sunny afternoon, but immediately after was like, “OK, I’m done, gonna hang with my friends now,” and walked off, completely ignoring her calf. When he followed her and tried to nurse, she kicked and headbutted him. Not OK, Maia!

With Daisy’s help, I walked Maia to the corral while Mike brought the calf down on his 4-wheeler. (Maia did not want to leave her gang but she was willing to follow Daisy, and Daisy is always happy to follow me because she knows she gets special treats when she does.) At the corral, we put Maia in the squeeze chute – which gently confines a cow – and allowed her calf to safely nurse, which he did with gusto as Maia glared into the middle distance. When we let her out of the chute, she turned on her calf again. It was obviously too dangerous to leave them together for the night, as a cow can kill a calf if she is aggressive and determined to keep it from nursing.

By that time, the sun was setting and the weather was turning and I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving a newborn alone in a storm, even in the shelter of the barn. So I took him home with me, made a nest of blankets in the bathroom, set my laptop on the toilet seat, and mainlined Orange Is The New Black while the calf slept curled beside me with his chin resting on my thigh.

The next morning, Jupiter bounced around the yard and played with Pita while I had tea; then we took him down to the corral to repeat the squeeze chute maneuver for breakfast. We kept the two of them close but separated during the day – together in the corral but with a wood fence between them, so they could smell each other and communicate, but Maia couldn’t harm him. When we put them together in the evening to see if Maia had decided to love him, Maia went right back into attack mode. Back in the squeeze chute she went, so the baby could dine. And back to my house he went, because another evening storm blew in.

Day three was a repeat of day two, with no change in Maia’s attitude. We’ve had other cows start out as reluctant mothers, but usually two days with the squeeze chute is all they need to get accustomed to nursing and fall in love with their calves. Maia’s behavior was kind of baffling (there was no physical reason for it), and getting very high maintenance, and not fair for the baby. So, on the fourth morning, we hobbled her. Hobbles are like prison leg shackles made of leather that go on a cow’s hind legs. Maia could still walk and lie down, but she couldn’t run or kick.

Maia was furious, but Jupiter was safe to stay close to Maia to bond and nurse when he wanted to, and I tried to soothe Maia with pans of Daisy’s special treats and long brushing sessions. After five days – because she was still antagonistic towards Jupiter for four solid days – we took the hobbles off and sat back to see what would happen. Free from the hobbles, Maia allowed Jupiter to nurse IF AND ONLY IF she was also eating. Begrudgingly, and not without agitation, but she no longer assaulted him. If she wasn’t eating, however, Jupiter couldn’t either – she’d kick him away, though not nearly as viciously as she had been.

And finally, FINALLY, at the end of last week, I spied Jupiter nursing while Maia stood calmly, without any food in her mouth. We might have a love match, after all.


55 Responses to “Hey Jupiter”

  1. brook
    July 1st, 2014 @ 8:45 am

    glad to read a happy ending for maia and jupiter (and also, love what i hope is a tori shout-out in the title!) :)

  2. Terry V.
    July 1st, 2014 @ 8:52 am

    Farm life is quite the adventure. Thank you for sharing these tidbits. You’ve taught me so much. Jupiter is so lucky to have you take such good care of him.

  3. jen
    July 1st, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    I wonder if it’s sort of a cow’s version of PPD? Jupiter looks like such a sweet baby…glad Maia decided he’s not the worst thing after all.

  4. Marg
    July 1st, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    I would never survive your lifestyle, my patience with “mom” would have run out the first day. Good on ya Shreve. Jupiter is a knobby kneed cutie.

  5. Patr
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    Wow, Maia is a real toot!!! I wonder if the next calf will have the same treatment or if she will accumulate to motherhood after Jupiter.

    Cows has such personality!

  6. LISA
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:13 am

    What a sweet baby…Love that everything worked out and that you made it possible…(:

  7. shreve
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:16 am

    B ~ ’tis!

    P ~ REALLY hoping it’s the latter!

  8. ClaireB
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:22 am

    Love this story and outcome. I enjoy your ranch life stories and always look forward to the next one. Jupiter is a lucky guy to have you and Mike — actually all your animals are blessed.

  9. Erynn
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:36 am

    Wow patience.

    Seriously love the thought of a calf sleeping with its head on my lap. Ka-yoot!

  10. Vickie Zimmerman
    July 1st, 2014 @ 9:45 am

    Awwww poor little Jupiter, but at least his Mom is being good for the moment anyway. Farm life is very difficult! I am so glad to get to hear these stories from you on the animals. You have come up with genius ways to solve problems and always with care and love for the animals. I love it! Thank you!

  11. Sherri Cox
    July 1st, 2014 @ 10:14 am

    “played with Pita”…what/who is Pita? Did I miss something? I check in every day!

  12. bekka
    July 1st, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    cows always give us neat stories….and my comment of” are you my mother” was probably right on

  13. shreve
    July 1st, 2014 @ 11:04 am

    S ~ last of the pics from the last post….

  14. Amy
    July 1st, 2014 @ 11:05 am

    That must have been rough for all of you – here’s hoping the patience sticks! I’m sure you’ll have no trouble giving him a few extra scritches behind the ears, just in case!

  15. mj
    July 1st, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    Do you think Maia’s reluctance had anything to do with her rough beginning, before Daisy adopted her?

    Bless you for all you do to make things work better than nature sometimes does:)

  16. Kristan
    July 1st, 2014 @ 11:59 am

    Don’t have much to say except that I find these Farmily stories fascinating. Thanks for sharing!

    And I’m so glad Jupiter and the gang have you in the corner. :)

  17. Karen
    July 1st, 2014 @ 12:14 pm

    He’s gorgeous, Shreve! Thank you for sharing, and for working so hard for him. I have such enormous respect for your patience and persistence.

  18. Maggie
    July 1st, 2014 @ 12:16 pm

    He’s so darling! What an ordeal… man. I really hope Maia is good with him now. I really love your stories from the farm and have learned so much.

  19. Cin
    July 1st, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

    I wanna kiss Jupiter’s leeeeps

  20. gift4gab
    July 1st, 2014 @ 2:53 pm

    Just curious – at what point might you have decided to just raise him as a bottle baby? Or is that a really bad thing?

  21. Patricia Long
    July 1st, 2014 @ 3:14 pm

    I love this farmily story! Again, it shows evidence of your great love for animals and your intuition and understanding along with your patience. Jupiter is such a cute little calf and I think Maia will indeed come to love him. I like it that Jupiter and Pita play together!

  22. mlaiuppa
    July 1st, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    Wow. Talk about high maintenance.

    Even Daisy wasn’t that bad with her first baby after you got her. She wasn’t accustomed to nursing but she didn’t try to attack Sir Baby.

    I hope Maia is better with her second calf. If she’s like this with every calf she has, what are you going to do? Same process? Or is it possible to stop breeding her?

  23. shreve
    July 1st, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    G4G ~ That is a last last last resort, especially when it’s not a twin and the mother is alive. Bottle babies never do as well as a calf on mother’s milk. And milk replacer is so expensive! In this scenario, I’d have put Maia in the chute twice a day ad infinitum over bottle feeding him. I’d also worry that making him a bottle baby would set Maia up for a repeat performance next year – now that she’s decided Jupiter is OK, I’m hoping she’ll embrace motherhood her second time around.

  24. Jacque S
    July 1st, 2014 @ 4:11 pm

    Just reminded me of a cow we had that did the very same thing, we hobbled her and that was a huge mistake! She was never the same cow, she use to come to us for cake and was happy most of the time. After the hobble she would come to us but then shake her head and blow snot at us. She was mad at us! She did take her calf then but she was a different cow after that. Glad it all turned out okay for Jupiter and Maia!

  25. penny in co
    July 1st, 2014 @ 4:39 pm

    awww!!! I just love how you tell a story…..
    so glad it is starting to work out.

  26. Jenny C
    July 1st, 2014 @ 10:06 pm

    Hahaha, Cin – me too! Isn’t he just a little doll?

    Man, Shreve, I had that tight-gut feeling every time you described the squeeze chute maneuver – I can only imagine how it felt for you. I was cheering for Maia and Jupiter: “come on, girl, you can do it” and “hey, Jupe, it’s not you, baby, it’s not you.” Had to shake it off when I finished reading the tale. Hehe.

  27. Me
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 1:20 am

    Interesting how no one considers that maybe she simply doesn’t want to be a mother? I realize we’re talking about a cow here, but reading about going to such lengths to force her to accept offspring she clearly doesn’t want seems rather cruel.

  28. Claudia
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 2:30 am

    What an amazing story. I never would have thought things like this could happen and I want to thank you for putting it out there. I have learned so much from you over the years and I love hearing about your life with the farmily.

  29. TomT
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 5:46 am

    Interesting stuff. I never thought a mother would ever behave like that.

  30. Karla
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 7:33 am

    Jupiter is a handsome little guy. Glad to hear Maia has finally decided he’s not so bad after all.

  31. NancyD
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 10:24 am

    I absolutely love hearing your stories, you are a great writer. Glad to hear they are bonding, thanks to you!

  32. Karen
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 10:30 am

    Wow- I’m glad it worked out after all your hard effort!! Always incredible reading, your farmily stories.
    PS I renamed the series: Orange is the New Crack.

  33. Barbara
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    Sounds like Maia inherited the tendancy to reject offspring from her mom.

  34. Lindsay
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 1:13 pm

    I just LOVE reading your adventures and tales. :)

  35. shreve
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 1:58 pm

    B ~ Actually, Maia was born at the sale barn, and her mom was sold just hours after her birth. That separation was one of sad circumstance. My vet happened to be there, and knew I was looking for a calf for Daisy, and rescued Maia for me.

  36. Marya
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 1:59 pm

    So glad you have a new calf. And I love his name.

  37. Kelsey
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 2:32 pm

    I think I am in love! Such a sweet looking baby!

  38. sybil
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 5:51 pm

    That lack of a mother (except for Daisy as a replacement) may very well have something to do with it. Who knows? I often wonder if my time in an incubator as a preemie at first, instead of home with my mother, accounts for my lack of interest in having an infant of my own – and I don’t lack nurturing tendencies.

  39. Mary R.
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 7:15 pm

    I love your dedication. Been through something similar with adults that has been happening for years. No such shute available, nor such peaceful reckoning. Enjoy that it took so little. All my love and respect.

  40. Mary R.
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 7:16 pm

    You reach us all, dear woman. Thank you.

  41. carmen
    July 2nd, 2014 @ 7:38 pm

    What an absolute cute baby!

  42. Deborah
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 5:33 am

    Precious baby!!!

  43. kay
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 6:54 am

    Little Jupes is a sweetie!!

  44. Janet in Cambridge MA
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

    “as Maia glared into the middle distance.” Seems like such a useful phrase.

  45. Robin
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

    I love your stories. So interesting to read. They are lucky to have your patience, kindness, and persistence to set things right!

  46. carmel
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 10:11 pm

    Maia was adopted by Daisy, she was shunned by her own mother (if I remember correctly)?

  47. mjo
    July 3rd, 2014 @ 10:24 pm

    Life is so interesting. Thanks for sharing

  48. shreve
    July 4th, 2014 @ 8:16 am

    C ~ Not really – Maia was born at the sale barn, and her mom was sold just hours after her birth. That separation was one of sad circumstance. My vet happened to be there, and knew I was looking for a calf for Daisy, and rescued Maia for me.

  49. Sandy G.
    July 6th, 2014 @ 10:19 pm

    Whew, your persistence paid off. Success!

  50. Diane
    July 8th, 2014 @ 5:14 am

    This is fascinating! I had no idea that all these things happened to “well adjusted” bovines, too. For some odd reason, I assumed that most non-human animals were just better at motherhood and other “natural” things than we are. I am relieved that it seems to be going pretty well now, thanks to your interventions.

  51. Kim
    July 8th, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    Jupiter is such a doll baby! I hope his relationship with Maia continues to improve. :)

  52. Ann
    July 8th, 2014 @ 2:17 pm

    While there will never be another Frisco, maybe this baby will fill some of the hole in your heart.
    Thank you for being such a compassionate person to and for all your family.
    Love ya.

  53. Cindy
    July 8th, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

    I love the name Jupiter. I think it’s a sign of healing. Jupiter in astrology is expansive, happy, spiritual, a blessing, a teacher.


  54. Bev
    July 9th, 2014 @ 12:36 pm

    Glad to hear this all worked out! Jupiter is adorable and I look forward to hearing more about him as he grows up.

  55. Marva
    July 9th, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

    “…mainlined Orange Is The New Black while the calf slept curled beside me with his chin resting on my thigh.”

    This made me smile!!!

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