Friday, September 18, 2015

Cow Mamas and their babies

Instinct is a wonderful and amazing thing and that is never truer than when our two heifers calved in the pasture this summer. These were their first babies, they did not go to birthing classes or read books, "What To Expect When You are Expecting That First Calf," they did not have mothers, grandmothers, sisters or friends to turn to with their questions. I'm not even totally sure they know another being is growing in their stomach until they push it out on the ground. We've had heifers give birth, turn around to see just what that was and jump back, eyes bugging out, ears at attention. Obviously what lay there was not what they expected.

#40 reassuring herself that her calf is okay after I had the nerve to pet him.

While we were gone to WI, #23 successfully gave birth to this little guy, we could finally close the books on calving season at French Farms.

Since the creek was still high, I was looking for #40 and her calf, I found the heifer away from the herd, looking and bawling her head off so I was immediately worried. Way down the pasture I saw a brown cow with two little calves and I knew we didn't have any twins. #40 forgot she left her baby with #33.....

....he was safe and sound and so glad to get back with his mama. It's fun to have a play date but come lunch time he wanted his mother back. 

While I was in the pasture, I drove the 4 wheeler around and looked at all the cattle, the high water doesn't faze them much.

To get from one side of the creek to the other, the calves dive right in and swim across.

The bulls were feeling frisky and started sparring with each other, #9100 is no longer the baby and can pretty much hold his own with Louie.

I found Fancy and her baby was also having some lunch, what a pig, he had milk all over his face. He'd pull down on a nipple until it snapped back, then he would bunt her in the bag. I know that had to hurt but she just put up with it.

This is one of our future cows, she will have her first baby next year and she is such a friendly little girl. Her baby number is 23, her future cow number is 35. She has a beautiful white face until she wools around in the creek bank, I don't know why they do it but they love to rub dirt all over their faces. Maybe it helps keep the flies away.

Back to my musings on how these heifers instinctively know how to care for their baby calves. It was too muddy to feed silage in the pasture so Bruce let the herd come up to the house to eat from the bunks. I noticed #23 was there but no baby. I asked her where he was and she gave me this sly look that said, "Just try to find him."

I took that challenge and drove the 4-wheeler around the pasture until I discovered him tucked away in a thicket, like a good boy, not making a peep. 

By the time I drove out of the pasture and back down the road, she had eaten her fill, left the herd, crossed the creek and was calling him. That was his permission to leave his resting place and come have some breakfast of his own.

About three days later, she decided to introduce him to the rest of the herd and brought him along to the house to eat.

"Baby cakes, meet all your cousins."

I think this goes back to their wild ancestors, to survive, they stashed their calves for a few days, away from the herd, to get stronger and be able to travel. Deer also do that to protect their tiny fawns, I've read that fawns have no odor, the mother stays away, only going back for feeding. Predators have a harder time finding the babies.

Mother Nature is so very wise.

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