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Cows Are Not Goats

Nov
18


How many mistakes have I made with Glory Bee? Let me count the ways…. Let’s just call it ONE BIG ONE.


I had a calf bottle in the house before she was a week old. I intended to train her to take it, if for no other reason than if some necessity came up that required it, like some medication that might need to be given orally or even if something happened to Beulah Petunia. I had plenty of good advice here about starting early with the halter, tying for periods of time, getting her to take a bottle even if I was going to also keep her with BP.

But I floated along in my mother-baby fantasy world of sweetness and slobbery milk mouths, a scene I was loath to interrupt. I sank like a stone in my goat-keeping “wisdom” in which you can leave babies running wild with their mothers and they STILL LOVE YOU.

I didn’t get it.

Cows are NOT GOATS.

By the time she was about a month old, I realized I had a big problem. She was nearly impossible to catch and she was gallivanting all over the place, unhindered by the electric fence. Just for starters, that wasn’t safe and she was going to end up with no concept of boundaries. We captured her and got her in the milk stand pen. She shared milking with me in the mornings, with me taking most of the milk, and I let her have all the milk in the evening. We got her disbudded and I “tamed” her with petting and scratching.

I still didn’t get it.

When it came time that she could no longer stay in there–she was getting bigger, and it was unhealthy for her to be so confined, I thought maybe I could take her back and forth from the goat yard. Hadn’t I tamed her down by now?

Taking her back and forth from the goat yard was a complete impossibility for me alone. Taking BP back and forth was doable, but difficult. There is an unfenced area between BP’s field and the goat yard, always leaving an opportunity for disaster. She had also worked a pretty good sore on BP’s udder.

This is the point at which I completely drowned and couldn’t see my way out of the problem. But okay! I would just get Glory Bee to drink from a bucket. Or a bottle. Or drink some water mixed with milk. Or some calf starter mixed with milk. Glory Bee, HOW ABOUT A TWINKIE WITH MILK?! I tried it all the past couple of days. (I didn’t really give her a Twinkie. Just sayin’.)

Meanwhile, I was getting further and further away from how I want to raise animals on my farm. And also becoming completely exhausted from constant efforts with Glory Bee. And starting to worry about Glory Bee’s health.

And then, in a lightbulb moment in which I could finally see the forest through the trees, last night, we took Beulah Petunia to LIVE in the goat yard. (At least temporarily.)

This hadn’t immediately occurred to me because it had been crossed off the list at the start when we brought BP up the hill. The goat yard is not a large area. It’s large enough that the goats can’t eat the grass down by themselves. We brought Poky and Jack up here this fall to eat the grass down before winter and over-winter them up here with the goats. But Beulah Petunia would eat down the grass in the goat yard for lunch. ONE lunch. However, it’s nearly winter now and there is no grass in the goat yard anyway. Everybody’s on hay.

I’m still keeping Glory Bee in the goat pen at night. I’m still keeping her tied during the day. She can be transferred the short distance between the pen and the tying tree without too much difficulty. BP is available without having to walk anybody through an unfenced area. I can milk BP first thing in the morning before letting her go to Glory Bee. BP is attracted to her food, so when Glory Bee is brought out, BP stays with me and the food. I have to milk her without a milk stand, but that is doable. BP doesn’t move around much once she puts her head in her food. After I’m done with her, she can go to Glory Bee where she’s tied. The other animals don’t get too much in the way. BP lets everybody know whose food is whose, believe me. (I’m giving food to the goats and donkeys at the same time to distract them from BP’s bucket-palooza of feed.)

The main reason I think BP got such a bad sore is because Glory Bee got so big she could only milk her on one side in the milk stand. (The other side was too close to the side of the milk stand shed for Glory Bee to fit her growing self over there.) This meant all the udder-bumping took place on one side. Now, BP stands randomly and Glory Bee isn’t putting all her head-butting energy into the same place. I’ll be keeping an eye on the situation because I’m still worried about that.

Sometimes mommy walks away. That is such a bummer.

(And yes, I kicked all those logs away from that tree so Glory Bee can’t stumble over them. Those are “king of the mountain” goat logs.)

As I continue to work with Glory Bee, I hope that having mommy there will make her calmer. They are nuzzling and licking and being together. And when BP is through, she wanders off. Then wanders back. And nobody’s bawling anymore. They are separated at night, but they can be nose to nose at the fence all they want, which is calming for everyone. The goat pen has tight woven wire fencing, so Glory Bee can’t possibly nurse through it (it’s a fence designed to hold in baby goats), but they can be close. She has water, hay, and calf starter available in the pen.

All is quiet on the Western front. (Aka the hinterlands. Okay, it’s actually east.)

One side benefit to moving BP right now is that hunting season starts Monday. Her field goes straight out across our hill through the woods, bordering other properties. Much of that surrounding area is completely unpopulated, but is used by hunters, who might accidentally wander into the woods on our farm. I’ve been worried about BP being out in the woods when the shooting starts. We were going to string another electric wire so she couldn’t go very far back into her hinterlands, but now she’s much safer all-around in the goat yard in front of the house. This is another reason, by the way, that Glory Bee cannot, must not, be out gallivanting. Hunting is very popular in West Virginia. I don’t even like to go outside more than necessary during hunting season myself. There will be the sound of shots all around our farm starting Monday. (Hunting is so popular here, they close school the entire Thanksgiving week, starting Monday, for hunting.)

Back to BP and Glory Bee–this is not a perfect scenario, but it’s the best solution I could come to in the farm’s current setup, which is not ideally set up for dealing with calves. I’m continuing to tie and work with Glory Bee, BP’s udder has less chance of being hurt, there is no bawling, and it’s in line with my philosophy about how I want to raise my animals by keeping the mother/baby together (as much as possible). It also means I don’t have to milk twice a day. It’s less stressful for everybody.

And that is the anatomy of one great big giant mistake and how I finally solved it.

For today.

We’ll see how things are going tomorrow. I am a work in progress.

One thing I know for sure: Cows are NOT GOATS. And everything everybody was telling me about calves…. I get it now.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 18, 2010  

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  1. 11-18
    11:42
    am

    LOL, your posting time must meet up with my break time since I manage to get in on these early. I am glad you figured it out. I know you had lots of advise from lots of people who try to help, me included, though I know nothing about milk cows. I have learned a lot from you about goats though and am looking forward to the day we get the fence tightened up where we can have some. At that time I might be asking for help too. I am glad the mommy and baby are together. One thing I do know is how loud they can be when apart! Enjoy the quiet. Can we have more baby goat pictures? 8)

  2. 11-18
    11:44
    am

    Amen!

  3. 11-18
    11:54
    am

    WHEW!! :cowsleep: :moo: :heart:

  4. 11-18
    12:00
    pm

    I LOVE that second picture of mommy and baby together.

  5. 11-18
    12:07
    pm

    I am glad to hear that you have come up with a solution you are happy and can live with. Is your way, my way? Maybe not, but cows are adaptable and can thrive under a number of systems. How else did they survive with us all these centuries?
    One way or another GB will get tamed down by you working with her. Glad you have come to the idea that cows are not goats. One thing to look forward to is that I have found that no matter how bouncy heifers are, they grow up and calm down quite a bit after calving. Does that mean a snot will turn into a sweetie? No, but they’re better.
    Now that you have this situation kind of sorted out, I will encourage you one last time to pluck up up your courage and begin to think about getting BP bred. Enough said.
    Have a happy and peaceful day!

  6. 11-18
    12:09
    pm

    Good thing that they are not. Bending over and having a calf leap onto your back just isn’t the same as a 3# goat kid doing same. LOL
    You are doing a good job in a tough situation. :airkiss: BP is probably walking away when Taz calf nudges the sore spot on her udder.

  7. 11-18
    12:10
    pm

    That last photo is just precious. Makes all the bawling, brutalizing, and terroristic acts of a certain calf seem worthwhile (from here, that is!) :)

    I’m glad you’ve moved BP up close to the house. At least for a couple of weeks while the marauding hunters make their way through the woods. Wouldn’t want her mistaken for a big deer by some rookie shooter. And I hope she keeps GB calm enough for you to settle her down more.

    Thanks for the updates!

  8. 11-18
    12:17
    pm

    Awesome!! lol, we all have dreams and wishes for how we want to raise our animals, sometimes we have to compromise. I think it is amazing what you are doing, and doing well! I love your posts and am learning a lot from older ones. Thanks for sharing! Oh and I understand about the hunters, I have to bring all the stick in at night because of coyotes around here and our property is b” like ordered on two sides by people who live in Buffalo and Montreal but come down to hunt, it is scary that people will shoot a cow because it “looked like a deer” but I have heard it before! Congrats!!

  9. 11-18
    12:18
    pm

    Jersey Lady, now that this situation is at least under some kind of control, I may consider having her bred. I certainly would do things much differently with a future calf.

  10. 11-18
    12:18
    pm

    Sounds like you have a great plan!! Life is an ever changing work in progress isn’t it!

  11. 11-18
    12:18
    pm

    Awesome!! lol, we all have dreams and wishes for how we want to raise our animals, sometimes we have to compromise. I think it is amazing what you are doing, and doing well! I love your posts and am learning a lot from older ones. Thanks for sharing! Oh and I understand about the hunters, I have to bring all the stock in at night because of coyotes around here and our property is b” like ordered on two sides by people who live in Buffalo and Montreal but come down to hunt, it is scary that people will shoot a cow because it “looked like a deer” but I have heard it before! Congrats!!

  12. 11-18
    12:22
    pm

    HOORAY!!!

  13. 11-18
    12:41
    pm

    Suzanne, sounds like a good solution for all. You’re right, BP doesn’t need to be wandering out among the hunters and with GB tied up, it will be easier for BP to help you train her.

  14. 11-18
    12:47
    pm

    Things are starting to sound better!
    Just know that grasses can still be damaged even when dormant and having large animals and large quantities of animals on a small area with no ‘rest period’ for the land will cause your goat pen to turn into a dirt lot sacrifice area. Sacrifice areas are HARD to bring back to life. Takes years. If you want to have grass again in the spring, the area probably needs to be rested over winter.

  15. 11-18
    12:51
    pm

    Heather, I’m hoping we won’t be keeping BP in there all winter. We’ll see how thing go in a month or so. As Glory Bee gets older, her need for milk will decrease, and maybe I will finally tame her! It’s (hopefully) a temporary situation.

  16. 11-18
    12:55
    pm

    Thank goodness that you have come up wiht a solution! I have never had cows, only horses. The only advice I can give from that experience is that as soon as they are born hold them and love them. Every day pet them, brush them and gently “train” them. I guess they just grow up thinking you will always be around. Now that write this all out, I guess it’s sort of like raising a child! If you raise them right, some times they might be a brat or throw a temper tantrum, but in the long run they will always trust you.

  17. 11-18
    1:11
    pm

    Maybe you can make Beulah Petunia a dayglow orange vest for hunting season! And post signs around your property saying “I Have A Jersey Cow!! She is BROWN! She is NOT a deer! Do NOT shoot my COW!!!”

  18. 11-18
    1:15
    pm

    Sounds like things have calmed down a little! I don’t know anything about raising cows. Glad your keeping GB save! hunting season can be so dangerous, I would always bring my horse in from the pasture during that time of the year, due to some accidents that had occured earlier, hunters mistaking a colt for a deer :no: it can happen.

  19. 11-18
    1:16
    pm

    Dab nab it another typo! SAFE is what I mean!

  20. 11-18
    1:37
    pm

    Glad you found a workable solution. Sometimes it just takes a while for it to formulate.

    Beautiful pictures. Love that Baby!

  21. 11-18
    1:38
    pm

    Congrats on finding a workable solution and what seems like a great compromise between what you need, and what your animals need. I hope it works out positively and please keep us apprised. I never thought cows were that fascinating until these posts but they are quite exciting…for blog readers anyway;)

  22. 11-18
    1:42
    pm

    Sounds like you’ve come up with a plan that will work out all the way around. Hopefully you’ll be able to sleep better without all that mooing going on, too. Even if this is just a temporary solution, it will give you a chance to work with GB several times a day without being in crisis mode. That should improve things for both of you.

    Is it just my imagination, or does Glory Bee look a little petulant and sullen? She’s still beautiful, but she doesn’t look like such a sweetie-pie. It reminds me of the look teenage girls at a certain stage give their mothers. The one that says no other teenage girl on the planet has a mother who would force her to do something as revolting and demeaning as taking out the trash, and one day you’ll be sorry you mistreated her this way.

  23. 11-18
    2:00
    pm

    Whew – your blog was starting to really stress me out. I grew up on a small farm like yours and we had a calf that we didn’t “socialize” early enough. He was crazed his whole life. The only animal I was never sorry to see go.

    Our goats always loved us no matter what – they were our dogs.

  24. 11-18
    2:14
    pm

    Yay! So glad you found a solution that works for you – they are always the best ones. You’re the only one who knows all the ins and outs of your particular situation so in the end it has to be you that works it out. Hope tomorrow it’s still working!

  25. 11-18
    2:19
    pm

    YAY!! I’m so glad that you figured out a way to make things work for you. And that you kicked away the blocks.
    I used to have a lot of fun when hunting season came around, I’d get a box of livestock paint sticks or a can of sheep marking paint and color on my horses. People just shook their heads at me but it gave me peace of mind. And turned my mostly white pony pink :) I mean, what young woman doesn’t want a pink pony?

  26. 11-18
    2:21
    pm

    I think that you’ve scared me away from cows for not. I’ll stick to my goats and just have to learn to appreciate the taste of goats milk I guess. :shocked:

  27. 11-18
    2:27
    pm

    I’m glad you found a solution that works for you and that you can live with. It is good that BP can walk away from Glory Bee when she gets too rough. BP can reinforce the lesson that you don’t treat the source of yummy milk that way much better than anyone else. Maybe since Glory Bee doesn’t have to confine her nursing to one side of the udder she will not be as rough on BP and if she is, BP just strolls away.

    Good too that BP is up by the house for deer season. Some hunters go out so hyped up to shoot something that they don’t pay close attention to the fact that the big brown object moving in the brush is way too large to be a deer. We never lost a cow to being shot, but we did have a couple of cows come in from the timber with shot in them. Thankfully is was a few pellets just under the skin and other than the discomfort, it didn’t seriously affect them. It had to have been done out of meanness or wanting to see the herd run because our timber was/is very open, no brush and trees spaced out, you could easily see that these were cows (25 of them) and not deer.

    Be sure you frequently check the fit of her neck collar and her halter because she is growing like a weed and it doesn’t take long for them to get tight enough to rub a hole in her hide.

    Enjoy the peace.

  28. 11-18
    2:40
    pm

    Glad a control plan emerged. Keep up the good socialization work for Glory Bee!

  29. 11-18
    3:00
    pm

    Hip Hip Hooraay!! Those first two photos are just…oh man…I wish they were my cow and calf. In spite of all the troubles Glory Bee has presented you of late, she will grow into a wonder heifer and cow, believe me. She’s simply being obstinate and missing her mother. Meeting her half-way is going to smooth out your rocky road and in the end I think one day you will look back on all of this and be able to laugh. OK, it might take awhile, but you will. :yes:

  30. 11-18
    3:07
    pm

    I was going to suggest buying some of the bright colored hair spray dye that kids dye their hair with and spray it all over your animals to keep them safe from hunters. I’m not anti-hunter, only anti-idiot and, sad to say, some people with guns fit that description. Not necessarily city people either. Any way Enjay’s idea is better, probably safer and cheaper too.

    Glad to hear that peace reigns in the pasture once again. May it last.

  31. 11-18
    3:07
    pm

    Why do you keep Glory Bee tied? Or is that just when you are milking?

  32. 11-18
    3:13
    pm

    Whew. I was getting worried there.

    I hate hunting season. Every time I hear a gun go off, I know some animal who was enjoying his life has probably died. A year or two ago here, a hunter accidentally shot his grandson. I can’t imagine what that family has gone through.

  33. 11-18
    3:36
    pm

    Lori, the tying is to break her so that she can be led when necessary and not think she can get away. That was probably the most common piece of advice I’ve gotten!

  34. 11-18
    3:46
    pm

    You learn as you go. Your next calf will be much easier.

  35. 11-18
    3:58
    pm

    Great solution! There is always so much to learn in a new situation and first baby, first dog, first cat, etc. gives lots of experiences for learning. I’ve raised goats but not cows and kept the kids on their moms but was starting to believe I should bottle feed the kids because they did get to be quite hard on their mom’s udder. Bottle feeding is a chore though!

  36. 11-18
    4:44
    pm

    Bless your heart, you’ve had two of the worst weeks known to mankind back to back. As stressfull as last week was, this week was physically draining. Nothing like Mother Nature to bring us to our knees when we “think” we have it all figured out! I think you may be onto something now. Kind of like tough love, except for calves!

  37. 11-18
    4:47
    pm

    Oh yay! I’m glad you’re getting this figured out and feeling better! :hug:

  38. 11-18
    5:33
    pm

    I knew you would work your way through this Suzanne! There is no right or wrong way just what works for your farm and you.

    I think you will find BP will eagerly come to GB for her to nurse. At least my Willow does; she loves her babies.

    My set up which was already in place has a small fenced area that Willow is let into first….then into the lot in front of the milking barn. No danger of anybody going anywhere.

    I was worried that all the stress would make you give up BP.

    BTW, I would breed her regardless if her health is good. The best meat we ever had was a Jersey steer.

    Yes, people we eat these babies sometimes!

  39. 11-18
    5:35
    pm

    Glad that baby and Mommy are back together. As much as we try to orchestrate situations, I think that nature knows best. It looks as if you are on a real learning curve, Suzanne. The animals will all be better off for it! You’re a trooper!

  40. 11-18
    5:47
    pm

    Suzanne, I am worried that GB’s halter is getting too tight. Check for a dent across her nose. I just had to let out Angus’ halter 3 holes.

  41. 11-18
    5:52
    pm

    Glenda, thank you, I am planning to adjust her halter tonight! I thought, too, when I was with her today that it looked tight. I am waiting for “help” to arrive this evening to help me!

  42. 11-18
    5:53
    pm

    That glory be is the most photogenic cow in the world. I know absolutely nothing but it seems to me that if BP is in charge of (mostly) her contact with the little one, all will eventually resolve.mama knows best

  43. 11-18
    6:49
    pm

    Yep, those little ones really grow fast. I just had to change RogerCalf to a larger collar and start to use the next bigger leather halter when I walk him.
    Suzanne, hate to bring up other things, but dairy cattle need their hooves checked out and trimmed every year. Now, before you get her bred again, would be a good time rather than once she is in calf. Ask you vet or dairy friend. My vet puts MinnieCow on a portable tilt table to do this.
    While you are on the phone with the vet you could ask about what shots he might think GB needs. It varies from state to state. Oh, and look to see if she has just 4 teats. Sometimes heifers have an extra blind teat that the vet can easily take off now when she is little.

  44. 11-18
    6:51
    pm

    Jersey Lady, thanks. I am planning to call the vet soon and talk to him about several things about BP and Glory Bee (including questions about getting her bred) and get a visit out here.

  45. 11-18
    8:09
    pm

    I know this sounds silly but this post made me think of my kids and how I never bottle fed them, my poor Mom would babysit sometimes and it would be a nightmare for her because by that time ( They sure were not going to take a bottle) but you can’t cry over spilled milk can you! I am glad Glory Bee seems to be enjoying her new home with the Goats! and she can see Mama! she is just so beautiful! I love those eyes of hers, but I know you have to be firm with her or else. :snoopy:

  46. 11-18
    8:19
    pm

    Suzanne, I was raised on a huge (200,000) acre ranch. We raised cattle, sheep and horses. (5,000 cows alone) Your cow will wean the calf when she feels it is time. She will not recognize the calf as hers once it is weaned. I still haven’t figured out if you are raising the calf for meat or to sell, or just to have the animal around. I know its very expensive to keep animals just for pets unless you raise your own hay.
    Dairy cows can be mean and I’m not sure how they can be tamed. We had Jerseys,Holsteins, and some kind of cross breeds for our milkers. The Jerseys were wonderful. Holsteins were nasty…If they had calves, we always bottle fed them. don’t know why…
    Hope you can get the “wild child” tamed and everything goes smoothly. (No cattle AREN’T goats!) lol…. :sheep:

  47. 11-18
    8:42
    pm

    I realize GB is getting her winter coat, but dang! I think she’s going to be a really big cow when she is full grown! Even for a calf, she’s looks like she has massive bone structure.

  48. 11-18
    8:51
    pm

    Marybeth, people keep telling me Brown Swiss cows are BIG. I don’t know much about Brown Swiss, but I believe she has the Brown Swiss build because she doesn’t have the Jersey build, that’s all I know! The bull BP was bred to was a Brown Swiss.

  49. 11-18
    9:04
    pm

    I was getting worried there. Good job for finding a solution! I

  50. 11-18
    10:39
    pm

    A while back someone asked about the bull that sired GB. If you are using a natural breeding rather than AI you might want to check out the disposition of the bull. And it might be something that is in the resume of the AI bull.
    As you state cows aren’t goats but I have found that in both goats and sheep the disposition of the male often times passes on to the offspring. GB’s father may have something to do with her attitude…in which case it may not be totally “fixable”.
    Marilyn

  51. 11-18
    10:42
    pm

    Jersey Lady mentioned shots for the cows. If it is a case of them needing something find out what effect it will have on the milk from BP. Some medications pass into the milk and make it not safe for you to drink for a certain number of days.

    Marilyn

  52. 11-18
    11:59
    pm

    Suzanne, so good to hear your cows will be safe from hunters. We have too many of them here,too,and hunting season has been going on for a week already. This morning my neighbor a couple miles away called to tell me one of their “hunters” (they bring ’em in from the “big city” (aka St Louis) to hunt out here) spotted a feral white pig near my fence line. I was pretty sure it was one of my polled rams browsing in the woods and sure enough — fleece all over nearby. At least the crazy pay-to-hunt guy did not try to shoot him. Or get a trophy set of horns from one of the other boys. If they shoot at my sheep, I am going to make sure the sheep start shooting back (with my help, of course)!!! At least somebody (wives???) around here has managed to get a ban on hunting for a few days around Thanksgiving — then it starts all over again. Sheesh!

  53. 11-19
    12:08
    am

    Hi, the shots I mentioned are innoculations that might be needed for GB against cattle diseases. Even if BP were to get some, there would be no milk hold needed. This is not like antibiotic shots.

  54. 11-19
    12:22
    am

    Whew!! What a relief!

  55. 11-19
    3:06
    am

    Cows may not be goats, but all your cows and goats are beautiful (as are your photos)!

  56. 11-19
    5:23
    am

    Suzanne, You may want to contact farmsanctuary.org. They rescue and rehabilitate abused farm animals and deal with behavioral issues all of the time. They’d probably have good advice for you, an actual responsible farmer who wants to learn.

  57. 11-19
    3:45
    pm

    Suzanne, I have read all of the replys here and even though you don’t need my input I would say you have a REAL FRIEND in Jersey Lady. The only thing I woould add is that when you decide to wean or BP does you will have a belloring contest going on unless they are both ready and just let it happen. I have raised several calves and I have learned by now that is the case. They are both BEAUTIFUL. I thoroughly enjoy your blogs. Get some rest you must be exhausted. BLESSINGS :wave: :wave: :wave:

  58. 11-19
    6:13
    pm

    Haha I just noticed that BP’s got a cute little red poofle thingy on the top knot of her head. She needs to get a touch up on those roots!

  59. 11-19
    11:24
    pm

    I vote for some video of you with BP and Glory Bee! I mean with you in the live action. Better yet, how about just installing a webcam at your place for us all. That would be GREAT!!
    I love your cow stories!! I sit hear and giggle. (sorry)

  60. 11-21
    8:39
    am

    I like your farm philosophy Suzanne, Mama and baby together. Your doing an amazing job. We are so thankful for all you do and keep doing. Who knew that cute baby would be soo much work. Im sure BP enjoys her breaks from GB too.

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