Thursday, September 25, 2008

At the farm

Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn

The sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn. . . 

Well, our cows are in the meadow and there are no sheep. There's no corn either. And Little Boy Blue was not fast asleep in the haycock, but hard at work helping me with the cows this week at the farm.

These are the darling calves: Dolly, Lucky and Smarty Pants
They frolic and play like puppies, but they are sky and didn't really want their picture taken.

Notice anything in this picture? Look closely. Right there, in the middle of the girls. Yup, that my dears is a bull. And he has a nose ring. 
This is Bo, our borrowed bull. He is here for one reason and one reason alone. No, make that seven reasons and seven alone. He is here to, uh, do what bulls do so our girls will be bred and have calves in the spring.  
I was not prepared for his massive size. The girls are so dainty. Bo is just massive. But he is a baby. As long as you don't turn your back on him. And if he gets pushy, because he takes his job so seriously, you just face him and stare him down. He backs down easily. He has soft black eyes. He really is a baby. Did I mention his nose ring?
Monday went well considering I haven't worked at the farm in about six weeks. Tuesday was another story. Farmer Susan came out to help because we are transitioning the girls from afternoon/evening milking to morning milking. She forgot to close the gate to the hay we are storing in the barn. In the past, this was not a big deal because it took up the far back quarter of the barn. The girls would come in and mill about until it was their turn to go to the milking line. But now, we are storing up lots of hay for the winter months and the stacks have taken up almost half of the barn and now there is no room for milling. They come to the barn and have to go right into the line, or wait outside. 

Tuesday. TUESDAY they came so well from the pasture and fell right into single file perfectly heading to the barn. By the time Susan and I got there all of the cows were in the barn. They all went into the barn and into the hay. ALL of the cows. Seven cows, one yearling heifer, and the bull. They were all in the hay which was stacked in small bales nearly to the ceiling. Bo, the bull was climbing the stacks. It was a feeding frenzy. If they could have been squeeling they would have been. I thought I heard squealing. I think it was Susan yelling, "THIS IS SERIOUS!" If Susan said it was serious I was about to panic. She knows cows. It looked serious to me and I don't know cows that well. I only know what I've read from James Harriott.
Now, if you know anything about cows, it may be that you've heard that they can kinda snap and tend to go a little crazy, and it might be the smallest thing that sets one off. They may never be set off in their whole life. Probably not. But this situation, in my mind, was something that could set them off. Somehow, we got them all out of the barn. And somehow we got four of them into the milking line. And somehow we got them hooked up to the milkers. But they were so upset from the whole ordeal that they did not milk well. The other three escaped back down to the pasture twice and would not come back unless they were allowed to have at the hay again.
So, we turned them all to pasture and Susan said she would let them calm down for a few hours and would try to milk them in the afternoon. 
In case you've made it this far and want to know what finally happened, Susan did milk them later but they were still somewhat cranky and didn't milk all that well. Then I came back the following morning and it went much better but I felt they were still holding a grudge. Susan says they aren't even thinking about it anymore, but are having a hard time adjusting to the morning schedule. They still look to come in in the evening.
It went much better today.

This is our new cow Buttercup. She just freshened with her first calf and is new to the milkers. She is very skittish and if she's not squeezed in between two of the bigger cows, she gets scared and tends to kick the milkers off. I don't blame her. I would hate to be hooked up to those things. They're cold too.
But she gives lots of milk.

That's all from the farm today.

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