Currently, I have Glory Bee and Dumplin in my field across the road from the house.
All I have to do is call Glory Bee’s name and she will (seriously) leap out of the creek, up the high banks, and head for the gate.
The cows love to hang in the creekbed, and in this field, the banks of the creek are about four feet high in most spots. BP always had a hard time in this field because there are only a few places along the creek where there is a sloped path out of the creek that she could manage. (BP is still here–she’s in the upper pasture with the horses, where the creek is easier for her to handle, no high banks.) Glory Bee is young, going on three years now, and has no trouble jumping out of the creekbed. Of course, Dumplin comes with her.
Does Glory Bee look pregnant? Can anybody tell by looking? (I’m just kidding. I think.) Is that not a gorgeous dairy cow? I’m in love with this cow.
I think Dumplin may suspect I’m pondering her fate. To be honest, we’ve never gotten real close.
There’s a difference between dairy cows and beef cows. Maybe I’m just prejudiced, but dairy cows are smarter, more people-oriented, and more easily trainable. Is that nature or nurture? I’m not sure, as I’ve never had any intention of milking Dumplin and haven’t treated her the same way I treated Glory Bee when she was a calf. We just don’t have the same relationship.
Dumplin’s a really good-lookin’ beef cow (not a speck of Glory Bee in her), but I also have no intention of butchering her.
I have, however, contemplated selling her. She’s cute and everything, but a cow is not a pet. A cow is far too big to be a pet, or to keep on a farm in a pasture ornament fashion. I’ve contemplated keeping Dumplin as a second cow, to produce calves to sell, especially since she’s quite beefy and bred with a beef bull, would likely produce a quite fine beef calf. (Obviously, Glory Bee herself, despite being dairy all the way, can also produce a quite fine beef calf when bred to a beef bull, Dumplin being case in point.)
The question is coming to a head now as I plan my hay for the winter. Dumplin is already worth a good bit of money. The average price for a beef cow around here is a dollar a pound. She’s a good age to sell for someone to raise up, either to butcher or to use her as a breeder. (She’s not weaned since I keep her with Glory Bee, but she’s 8 months old and certainly has no need of the cream she so enjoys.) Or, I keep her, buy hay for her this winter, and try to get her bred next year. Eventually, she can make me money in calves to make up for what she’ll cost me in hay this winter–but do I want to go into the business of beef calves? The only reason I actually breed Glory Bee, of course, is so I can keep milking her. Producing calves from Dumplin would be expressly to sell them. The decision about Dumplin impacts other decisions, too–expanding or reducing goats and sheep. I’m just one person, and my “farm hand” will be going to college next year.
I need to make a decision about a direction, and Dumplin’s right in the middle of it. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do, but this fall? I’m sure I’m going to have to make a decision.
It’s time for my little farm to grow up.