We took BP on the (arduous!) journey over the hill to Skip’s farm on Thursday evening. She was wearing a flower and happy to be there. I think.
I was hoping she was in heat and that she’d be getting some action. Skip observed the bull checking her out on Thursday evening, then walking away. He thought maybe she wasn’t in standing heat yet, when they will stand for the bull.
He didn’t observe anything on Friday. Because, you know, he’s a real farmer and he has better things to do than watch the cows all day. So, I didn’t know what happened on Friday. Unless you’re going to put a cam on the cow or are lucky enough to catch the action, you really can’t know what’s going on with cows that are traversing a large pasture of fields and woods all day.
Which makes it really difficult to know whether or not your cow’s been bred.
I headed over to Skip’s farm on Saturday feeling a little frustrated and not sure what was going on or what I should do about it. After all, I don’t want anything interfering with my well-planned cow year. Apparently, I planned everything well except for the part where I should have nailed her heat cycles a couple months ago.
Even as I was contemplating those questions, I was also wondering how I was even going to find my cow on Skip’s big farm full of sunny meadows, shaded creeks, nooks and crannies, and…..cows. The last time I saw BP, she was disappearing into the woods following a creek. I went back there, passed through the paddock, into the field above the creek, looked up at the hill where I knew lay a huge open meadow full of tall, tall grass…..and called her name, feeling a little hopeless. I figured I was about to take an (arduous!) hike all over Skip’s farm looking for her.
I heard a cow answer me. I thought it was her, but– I don’t have a bunch of cows. Maybe they all kinda sound the same. I called her again, twice, and–
She came right out to the edge of that sunny meadow, looked down at me, and started coming.
I couldn’t believe it. I’d arrived at this big farm and called my cow. And here she came!
She loves me.
Or she thought I might have some goodies.
Anyway, she came!
And she was still wearing her flower!
I didn’t know anything about her other flower….. And I made a decision on the spot, made easier by the knowledge I had now of how easily I could get her to come to me.
I decided to leave her there. For three and a half weeks. A cow goes into heat about every 21 days. If I leave her with the bull for a generous heat cycle, she’s bound to be there at the right time and will more likely come home bred than any exposure based on my inept abilities to detect heat and target the exposure.
Using a bucket, I hand-milked her right there. The ground was uneven and she stepped in the bucket and everything, but she seemed happy to be relieved. She was a little confused at first when we got ready to leave. She thought she was coming home with us.
She followed me, and looked longingly at me.
She finally gave up and walked away, into the shady creek, back to her new friends and her new tall, tall grass, with one lingering last long look back at me.
Sunday evening, we went back with the milking machine and a generator set up on the back of the truck to run the vacuum pump by the paddock. I’m shifting her around to an evening milking schedule for now. (Evenings are when I can have help.) I’m handling the milk and washing up the equipment at home as usual. She’s there for the duration. It’s my best chance of bringing her home bred. Hard as it was to leave her, it was also good to know how easy it was to get her to come back to me. She is my cow.
But man, look at that face! It’s so hard to leave her every time.