That Darn Dumplin


Dumplin’s been doing her job–too well. I started watching for signs of heat, ahead of giving Glory Bee the shot of lutalyse that was scheduled to be given on Sunday morning, to throw her into heat by Monday evening or Tuesday morning. Then the vet would come back and she would be inseminated. There was a chance Glory Bee might go into heat naturally, before the shot, so I started watching for signs of heat right away.

A cow, male or female, will respond to another cow in heat by riding up on them. It’s one of the simplest and most obvious signs of heat. So I separated Dumplin and Glory Bee, only putting them together for 30 minutes every morning and every evening to see how Dumplin would react.

Wednesday evening, no reaction.

Thursday morning, no reaction.

Thursday evening, no reaction.

Friday morning, no reaction.

Friday evening….
Then she rode up on Glory Bee three times in a row.

So. It was Friday evening. The worst time possible. I couldn’t order bull semen on the weekend. She was supposed to have the shot on Sunday, I’d order the semen on Monday, and be ready for a Tuesday or Wednesday insemination depending on when she went into heat.

I called Dr. Mason. She gave me several options, and I chose to wait until Glory Bee goes into heat again, naturally, in three weeks. A cow goes into heat approximately every 21 days, and a natural heat is more fertile than an artificially induced one, so now that we know her cycle, we can be prepared to hit her up on the next one.

But it was disappointing. I didn’t even get to be all tough and everything and give her the shot!

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Dumplin Finds a Job!


Mobile veterinarian Dr. Clara Mason and her technician pulled up to Sassafras Farm yesterday afternoon to check out Glory Bee.
They’re getting out the long gloves. They’re going in! I got Glory Bee in her milkstand with her headlock. Not that she cared. Once she’s digging in to her big feed, she really doesn’t give a hoot what’s going on back there.
Which is probably a good thing since there were people in her privates.
The main point yesterday was to make sure she wasn’t currently already in heat. And she’s not! She’s somewhere else in her cycle, but just exactly where can’t be so easily determined. So Dr. Mason made a plan with a head-spinning number of options depending on what happens next. Because Nature isn’t easily wrangled. But if all goes according to human plans, this is what will happen.

Step 1: I’ll give Glory Bee a shot of lutalyse, which Dr. Mason left with me. I’m to give the shot on Sunday morning, to time her heat so that we will have next week, on business days, to deal with the insemination. (Trying to avoid the weekend.)

“You can give a shot, right?” she said.

She must have noted the freaked out look in my eyes.

“You can do it, Suzanne!”

Her technician said, “I was giving shots like this when I was 10.”

Oh, sure.

Dr. Mason is a good teacher, and she spent several minutes showing me exactly where and how to give the shot to Glory Bee, in the muscles in her neck.

I can mow! I can drive a tractor! I can do this….

Step 2: Watch for signs of heat.

Step 2 is also Step 1a, by the way. I’m supposed to start watching for signs of heat now, in case Glory Bee goes into heat before the shot on Sunday.

To watch for heat, she told me to separate Glory Bee and Dumplin. (Glory Bee can be with her calf, but not Dumplin.) Dumplin has a special job. Since she’s a full-grown heifer at this point, she can be used as the heat tester. Both male and female cows will react to a cow in heat by attempting to ride up on them. Every morning and every evening, I’m to put Glory Bee and Dumplin together and watch them for 30 minutes to see if Dumplin tries to ride up on Glory Bee. Then separate them again. Heat can also be detected by watching for a swollen vulva and other physical signs, but the “riding up” is the most obvious and impossible to miss.

With the shot on Sunday morning, which incites heat, Glory Bee should go into heat by Monday evening or Tuesday morning. In that event, then the semen will be ordered to be delivered on Wednesday and Dr. Mason will make a return call for–

Step 3: –the insemination.

All sorts of other things might happen, however. Glory Bee might go into heat sooner. Or she might go into heat later. A second shot might be required if she doesn’t go into heat next week at all. And those alternatives come with other alternative plans. Including the problem that I will be leaving for Weston’s Army graduation in Oklahoma at some point, which will cause a hitch in the plans if Glory Bee doesn’t go into heat next week at all.

I’m hoping things go just right and she goes into heat Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Dumplin has a job!
She’s really important right now!
Know that, Dumplin?

P.S. I’ve had a lot of questions about Dumplin. She belongs to my neighbor, but she still lives here. All the cows are happy with this situation. She’ll be bred later this summer with a bull from up the road. I’m going to have Glory Bee artificially inseminated because I want a calf earlier than will work out with when I can get that bull, plus I’d like to choose the breed, have her inseminated with Black Angus. I’ve never had AI done before, and if all goes well, I’ll probably do this in the future and stop having bulls over. Next year, Moon Pie will be ready, so I’ll have two to be bred!

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