Love Connection

☆ July 1, 2015

Spoiler: Maia and Luna are a happy pair! After two days of using the squeeze chute to allow Luna to nurse safely and easily, it was time to transition to a more natural method – we didn’t want Luna to associate the squeeze chute with food and have that override her instinctual connection with Maia. Though Maia never really kicked at Luna – she favored headbutting – we decided to put the hobbles on Maia as we did last year, in hopes of keeping Maia standing still so Luna could nurse. Straight out of the gate, Maia figured out how to bunny-hop with the hobbles on, taking a step with her front legs and jumping forward with her back legs together. When Luna approached to suckle, Maia pivoted, violently headbutted Luna, and then ran away with her bunny-hops. Maia could cover some serious ground with her bunny-hopping, crossing the entire length of the corral in two seconds flat.

So we took off the hobbles and came up with another contraption to protect Luna from the headbutting. We clipped two horse cinches together with a carabiner, and tied them on Maia behind her shoulders. I then put a halter on Maia, and tied the lead rope to the cinch. Maia could still eat and drink, and get up easily and safely, but she didn’t have the full range of motion to headbutt with any force. Since Maia had never worn tack before, Mike was nervous about an epic protest in the form of bucking and snorting, but that never happened. Instead, she stood calmly beside me like a seasoned saddle horse as I fiddled with the halter and cinch and all the knots. Such a gentle, patient cow! Now we just needed to transfer that patience and trust to her baby.

With this contraption in place, we brought Luna over to Maia, and though Maia no longer whacked Luna with headbutts, she still wouldn’t stand still for Luna to nurse. So Mike took off his shirt and tossed it over Maia’s face. Maia, unable to see anything, stopped moving around, and Luna had her meal. We gave Maia plenty of hay to relax and distract her.


We couldn’t just leave Maia blindfolded, and didn’t trust her with Luna yet. Though Maia could no longer forcefully headbutt, there was still a chance that, if left together, Luna could accidentally get cornered and Maia could really hurt her. So, between meals, we kept them in adjacent sections of the corral, where Luna and Maia could see and hear and smell one another. I cuddled and brushed Luna and gave her some of the physical attention she wasn’t getting from her mother, and we brought them together for meals three times a day. We often found them lying side by side, with just the rail fence between them.

At meal time, either Mike or I (whoever was on duty) would toss a flannel shirt over Maia’s face and tie the arms under her chin, and open gates for Luna, who would run to Maia and plug onto a teat. As the days went by, we began taking the flannel off Maia midway through Luna’s nursing sessions and observe Maia’s behavior – sometimes she’d get antsy and angry and we’d put the flannel back on; sometimes, she’d stand calmly and nuzzle Luna. We began leaving them together after meal time and watching their behavior, and, once we felt we could trust Maia not to hurt Luna, we left them together overnight. The next morning, I walked down to the corral at first light and caught them in the act – Maia was standing calmly, of her own volition, as Luna nursed. Hooray! It just took a little darkness and time, patience and creativity, and trust in love.

In other news ~

I will be taking my Shop offline tonight (July 1) for all of July and much of August. If you would like to stock up on presents, prints, elk antler chew toys, books, or special stones, today is your last chance!

The baby chicks have turned into mini chickens….
mini chicken


23 Responses to “Love Connection”

  1. easternpanther
    July 1st, 2015 @ 9:21 am

    You are the most patient animal nurturer I’ve ever known of. WOW.

  2. hello haha narf
    July 1st, 2015 @ 9:32 am

    yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, maia!!!
    and yaaaaaaaaaaaay, you and mike!!
    great work.

  3. Theresa Szpila
    July 1st, 2015 @ 10:13 am

    Congratulations on a successful bonding between Mom and Baby. They are both sooo lucky to have you and Mike ~ I can’t imagine any other ranchers would have been so patient!
    Hugs and smiles to all!

  4. Amy
    July 1st, 2015 @ 10:19 am

    Your patience and trust in your animals is astounding. That we should all be on the receiving end of such patience when we need it most!

  5. wright1
    July 1st, 2015 @ 11:11 am

    Your patience and devotion to your animals are clearly a big part of your well-earned success. You are everything a livestock raiser and an animal lover should be.

  6. Anna
    July 1st, 2015 @ 11:15 am

    Good news! I really needed some good news today, especially the kind that shows beings can change, grow, adapt, survive. Thank goodness for your hard work and empathetic eye.

  7. mlaiuppa
    July 1st, 2015 @ 12:32 pm

    Those are very cute chickens. Are they a cross of something?

    Excellent behavior modification. Hopefully Maia will get better each time but good you have method in place now that will save some time.

    Luna is quite the looker. I can think of worse things than having to cuddle her for a few days.

  8. Jennifer Brost
    July 1st, 2015 @ 12:47 pm

    So glad it worked out between Mama and Baby. But I can’t be the only one to wants a photo of Mike taking his shirt off. Lol.

  9. mj
    July 1st, 2015 @ 12:53 pm

    Beautifully done! You and Mike are an amazing team. You both know how to combine creativity, animal behavior and know how to make things work. Well done. Best wishes for your continuing success on all things!

  10. shreve
    July 1st, 2015 @ 1:20 pm

    J ~ Hahaa!!! Just read your comment to Mike and it made him blush ;)

  11. Sandy G.
    July 1st, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

    Thanks for the photo of Luna and that stinker, Maia. Glad she finally came around! And for the photo of the chick (I mean mini chicken–an amazing change).

  12. Jenny C
    July 1st, 2015 @ 2:24 pm

    Jennifer (8) – ahem… no, you weren’t the only one, hehe.

    Maia is a biiig mama! No wonder you were/are concerned about Luna-baby. So glad for good outcome. Way to go, Shreve & Mike! As for next time Maia calves: do they make cow Valium? The pills would have to be the size of small missiles, but still, Mike may run out of shirts. ;)

  13. Felyne
    July 1st, 2015 @ 4:08 pm

    It’s a makeshift martingale! Good thinking! If this is a common problem then there’s a really good business opportunity! :D Do you have a local leather craftsman?

  14. taffy
    July 1st, 2015 @ 7:41 pm

    What a relief for everyone. (mom doing what baby knew was right all along!) And it sure shows a natural instinct from you two, such perfect teamwork…rigging just the right restraint by one and then the quick shirt off the other’s back to top it all off! So much cuteness and wisdom!

  15. Colleen G
    July 1st, 2015 @ 8:18 pm

    Thank goodness you posted a picture of Maia with Mike’s shirt on her head. Seeing is believing sometimes! I totally agree with Jennifer, you deprived us of a shirtless MC!!

  16. Laura
    July 1st, 2015 @ 8:51 pm

    awesome news!

  17. Joy
    July 1st, 2015 @ 9:18 pm

    Thank you so much for the update on mother and ‘child’. I have been checking every day hoping that the story would have a happy ending…and if it didn’t ‘naturally,’ just how you would work it all out and MAKE a happy ending. GOOD JOB!

  18. mlaiuppa
    July 2nd, 2015 @ 2:48 am

    I can just read the speech bubble above the head of that other cow in the pen to Maia. “Sister, you are looking ridiculous. Come on and get with the program already.”

  19. Diane
    July 2nd, 2015 @ 4:38 am

    I learn something new with each installment of the farm-story!
    You certainly have to be very creative (as well as patient and calm) to be able to help in these situations.

    Is it common for a mother to not want her offspring around?
    One sometimes reads of this happening in zoos, for example.
    Well, I guess humans also sometimes balk and are overwhelmed when a new baby is there.
    Life is weird.


  20. molly
    July 2nd, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

    Sounds like Maia suffers from a bovine form of postpartum depression. Love the creative and humane ways that you and Mike have for getting her through it.

  21. Patricia Long
    July 3rd, 2015 @ 11:26 am

    I am happy to hear that Maia and Luna are now getting along. Your ability to come up with creative solutions to help Maia is wonderful! Your little chick looks great all grown up.

  22. Karen
    July 5th, 2015 @ 5:00 pm

    Never a dull moment on the homestead! So glad your’s and Mike’s ingenuity worked well and that all animals are current thriving. bok bok!

  23. Deanna
    July 7th, 2015 @ 9:07 am

    Talk about ingenuity and resourcefulness. Of course those are your middle names, you and Mike. I loved this whole post. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply


    • mwchrdF
    • SBhrd
    • Bhrd
  • More, Elsewhere

    • tdcbuttonb
    • newshopbutton16s
    • IGflicka
  • Tweets

    • No Tweets Available
  • Follow Honey Rock Dawn

    Enter your email address to receive new posts via email.

  • My Books

    • tdccoverbutton
    • ten
  • What I’m Reading

  • Categories

  • RSS