HONEY ROCK DAWN

Sid Has Two Mommies

Little Sid, kitchen calf, lap calf, my sweet little orphan, was a bottle baby the first month of his life, which made me “Mama.” He followed me anywhere and everywhere. If he was still hungry after draining the bottle I’d brought out to the pasture, he’d follow me back to the house, up the stairs of the deck (clip-clopping across the deck on his tiny hooves), in the front door and all the way to the kitchen, where he’d wait at my feet as I prepared another bottle. (It was such a bad habit, but so cute I couldn’t bring myself to break him of it.)

And then Daisy calved. Instead of milking into a bottle for Sid, I led Sid to Daisy’s udder, using the empty bottle as a lure and sticking one of her teats in his mouth. He caught on within two days, though Daisy was a less willing participant (as is normal – cows don’t like random calves stealing the milk that is meant for their baby). But Daisy has more than enough milk for all of us, and I knew she’d accept Sid eventually, as she has adopted orphans in the past. Exhibit A: Frisco and TR, way (WAY!) past the age of needing milk, but don’t they all look so content?

mostrediculous2

So, I helped Sid dine with Daisy a few times a day – while she was haltered after I’d milked her, while she was distracted as I brushed her, and, at times, using Maia’s super-effective blindfold technique. Meanwhile, Sid and Roxy became best pals – siblings, really. They are side by side every moment of the day. Sid learned to eat when Roxy ate, keeping Roxy closest to Daisy’s head, so when Daisy turned to look or sniff, she’d find Roxy and mellow out. And then one day I caught Daisy licking Sid, and answering his moos, which means she’s decided to be his mama, too.

sid roxy daisy

MOAR BABIEZ!!

DaisyRoxy

Daisy had a baby! So… this happened really all of a sudden, or as “all of a sudden” as something that takes nine months can happen.

Backing up: Daisy’s last calf was Leila, in 2014. Daisy is always a bit challenging to breed back, but in early 2015, when it would have been time to start trying to get Daisy pregnant again, I was in the midst of dealing with my health baloney and I didn’t want her to be pregnant. I had stopped milking her because I didn’t have the energy (Leila was big enough at that point to take care of Daisy’s milk output on her own) and I couldn’t deal with the responsibility of Daisy calving again until I got my health back on track and reached a more functional state of being.

Last summer, we brought our bull Billy in to breed the cows and heifers that spent the summer here at home. (The majority of cows and bulls spend the summer on the mountain.) Billy is daddy to all the calves I’ve shared here this spring – Ixchel, Sid, and the rest – and he also got Leila pregnant for her first time. It was possible that he had bred Daisy, too, but I wasn’t terribly confident that it happened. It usually takes Daisy several cycles to finally get pregnant, and after about three months of having Billy in with the cows, we had to move him out again. One of the neighbor’s cows showed up and climbed through our fence and Billy bred her (I watched it happen) and we moved him out that very day. Because cows can have STDs.

There’s a bovine STD called trichomoniasis (“trich” for short) which causes cows to spontaneously abort, and it was not worth the risk to keep Billy in with our cows until we had him tested again. Since it takes a couple of months of dormancy for trich to show up on tests, Billy was out of work for the season. Mike was convinced Daisy had been bred, but I was skeptical… until earlier this spring, when it became apparent she was making milk! I was overjoyed. And I guess I didn’t fully believe that she was actually, truly pregnant until quite close to the end of the term, because I was going to post about Daisy being pregnant, but she had her baby before I even could.

A week or so ago, I started obsessively checking on Daisy and Leila for signs of labor. With angus cows, it’s pretty easy to tell when the time is near just by looking at their udder, but Daisy’s udder keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and it’s not a great indicator. This happened to be the case with Leila, too – she has Daisy’s genetics in that department, more so than Fiona, and her udder also kept getting bigger and bigger. Fast forward to Friday night: the sun was setting and all the cows were eating near the house and Mike and I went outside and, at exactly the same time, we turned to each other and said “Where’s Daisy?!!”

I found her off by herself in a draw. This is what cows do when they are close to having their babies. I lured her all the up to the house with treats and put her in the yard for the night, so it would be easy to check on her – Daisy’s last two calves had been breach and I was not going to rest until I knew all was well. I checked on her hourly till midnight, then at 2am, then at 4am. Nothing was really going on through the night, but at 4am, I got the sense that I shouldn’t wait another two hours to check on her again. So I checked on her at 5am, and she had hooves sticking out – and they were the correct direction! And I rejoiced, because the calf was not breach. And not five minutes later, Daisy lay down and had her baby in the light of dawn.

And two hours later, within sight of the yard but off on her own, Leila had her baby, too! Perfectly and easily.

I named Leila’s baby Pixie because she is so little and cute. And I named Daisy’s baby Roxy, which is a variant of the English variant of the French variant of the Latin variant of the Persian word for dawn. And Sid might get his own happy cow family after all…. but that’s a story for another post.

It’s Almost Time….

helpingherwalk

….for babies!

{{Daisy and Fiona, 2011}}

Sneaking Up On Cows

I took Chloe out at 6 this morning (Charlie will stay in bed till 8am if he has his way, which he does). It was well before sunrise but the full moon was still high and bright. All the snow has melted and all the mud has dried (here, “mud” is it’s own major season between “snow” and “grass”), and the bare ground shimmered with frost.

I saw Daisy as soon as I stepped outside, her white coat a glowing aura in the moonlight. She was asleep, curled up like a swan, her legs tucked under her and her head resting on her shoulder. The other cows were grouped behind her, as if she was the guard stationed to protect them through the night. And now that dawn was near, they were awake and she was asleep.

It’s very hard to sneak up on a cow. They are better watch dogs than most dogs. I walked softly toward Daisy and she didn’t stir. I got close enough to hear her deep, steady sleep-breathing and she didn’t wake. I crouched next to her flank with just a few inches between us and she didn’t even open one eye.

I moved past her to Fiona, who I could see was awake, and it was my whispered, “good morning, Fifi” that woke Daisy. She popped her head up and blinked at me, so I went back over to her to stroke her soft cheeks and kiss her broad forehead.

Monday Meditation

monday meditation

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