Weaning

May
3

We’re having a weaning party!

And Glory Bee and BP are invited! I’m expecting the celebration, or bellowing, to go on for weeks.

And involve a lot of drama.

My general philosophy is to keep babies with mommies as much as possible and for as long as possible. I believe it’s healthier for everyone. And it definitely makes everyone happier.

I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and mind-boggling confusion in dealing with Glory Bee, and even almost weaned her earlier. Luckily, I figured out a system that worked well where she and I traded off days with BP. I got milk. Glory Bee got milk. Everyone was happy! In fact, it’s a beautiful arrangement, but all good things must come to an end. If I want BP to have a spring calf next year–which I do–she’ll need to start dating soon.


Once she has a bun in the oven, she’ll need to put all her motherly resources into nurturing her new creation. Her date isn’t planned until sometime in June, but I think she needs a little down time between stopping with Glory Bee and starting her new baby, and, well, Glory Bee is going on eight months old.

Eight months old and gorgeous.

Before having a calf, I had never thought about being attached to one this much. Cows have a lot of personality.

They can be stubborn as donkeys, frisky as goats (at least when they’re calves), and as disinterested-yet-interested in you as sheep.

Glory Bee moved herself to BP-land a few weeks ago, so that meant she had to be moved back to the goat yard. I’m afraid to attempt weaning her in BP-land, though for a time a separation fence was considered there. But I could see Glory Bee, in desperation, breaking through or over or under or just setting off a bomb to take out the electric fence so she could get to mommy. Encouraging her via desperation to figure out how to break down the electric fence doesn’t seem like a wise path. Of course, she did break out of the goat yard once before–that’s how she got to BP-land. We added a latch to the goat yard gate, instead of just using the hook method. Hopefully, this will prevent any further break-outs there. I’ll be keeping a close eye.

I’ll put them back together as soon as she’s weaned. I’m not sure how long this is going to take–or even how I’ll know for sure when we’re done. I’ve never weaned a calf before. I don’t know what I’m doing. I just know it’s time to do it. In most cases, a calf is weaned much earlier than this. But this isn’t a commercial operation. And I wasn’t born a farmer. As much as I sometimes stress that this is a real farm, it’s also as much of a storybook to me as it may seem sometimes to some of you. If I portray this farm in a storybook way, it’s because that’s the way I see it, and sometimes (or often) I even make decisions from that mindset. I try to temper it with as much reason as I can, but–

I think animals deserve storybooks, too, so as much as possible, I let them live it with me. At least until the calf is about to turn eight months old and it’s just starting to get ridiculous.

BP has been in no hurry to kick off her big baby, so she’s not going to be any more happy than Glory Bee.

But I’m also very excited about getting my milk back, and about BP’s big date. It’s going to be an exciting spring!

I moved Glory Bee all by myself, and I was really proud of myself. I used my faithful calf trick that always works. I shut the goats up in the goat house then opened the goat yard gate. Got BP and walked her over to the goat yard. Glory Bee followed, of course. Then I got BP and walked her right back out–shutting the goat yard gate behind me, leaving Glory Bee inside. Took BP back to BP-land. Let the goats out of the goat house.

Let the bellowing commence.

Nutmeg: “Not HER again!!”

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 3, 2011  

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Comments

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  1. 5-3
    2:05
    am

    Boy, are you in for it now!!!

  2. 5-3
    5:41
    am

    It’s like any mother, letting go is hard to do. Cows just cry louder. You’ve brought such happiness to BP, you can see it in her eyes. Got ear plugs?

  3. 5-3
    6:01
    am

    okay, Darlene, Suzanne— I apologize. I just could not resist the ‘flag comment’ option and the explanation did not appear (or I didn’t see it) until after I flagged the comment. I belong to the group that operates on “let’s see what happens if we…”
    Best to Suzanne, somehow I think weaning’s going to be character building. Oh, and I had a question about Clover’s lost baby…How does Clover react? Is she like a matriarch elephant, clearly grieving, or does she tend to the remaining kid as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened?

  4. 5-3
    6:12
    am

    bonita, I just added the flagging comments option so I haven’t had a chance to experiment with it myself. A comment won’t be thrown into moderation just from one person flagging it, though. I’ll explain more about it probably tomorrow after I have it figured out! It’s one of the ways I’m working on to keep the comments section open and yet not let it get out of hand.

    Re Clover, the baby was not born right and Clover refused to have anything to do with it. Animals know……

  5. 5-3
    6:24
    am

    :snoopy: Oh my what a precious sweet kissable face. YOU SUZANNE are a lucky women to have both BP and Glory Bee..Seems like it went well but best wishes on the next few days..:)
    And I love storybook!
    Granny Trace

    http://www.grannytracescrapsandsquares.com

  6. 5-3
    6:57
    am

    I know you’ve said before what kind of cow Glory Bee is mixed with (I can’t remember) and pointed out their differences, but wow! I guess I never noticed just how different her body type is from BP’s. Poor Glory Bee, she looks ticked!

    I’m glad you’re taking us through the process Suzanne, I think it’ll be a learning experience for all of us who don’t have cows.

    http://thecrappygardener.wordpress.com

  7. 5-3
    6:58
    am

    Lindsay, Glory Bee is half Brown Swiss (and half Jersey, which is what BP is).

  8. 5-3
    7:11
    am

    Glory Bee and BP are such beautiful cows. Your storybook is my favorite one.

  9. 5-3
    7:53
    am

    Nutmeg has it right – hope you have earplugs — not gonna be quiet on your farm for a few days :moo: :moo:

  10. 5-3
    7:58
    am

    GB is so big now! As beautiful as GB is, I love BP. I just want to pet her nose. Best of luck to you on the weaning project. I imagine you will be hearing dinosaurs for days and maybe weeks to come. :moo:

    I’m sorry about Clover’s baby, but so glad she had another sweet, little fella to raise.

    Take care,

    Jen M. in VA

  11. 5-3
    9:00
    am

    Oh my gosh, I just love the look on Nutmeg’s face and the stance she is taking….LOL!

    Glory Bee is a stunning beauty, for sure! :moo: Oh, and I love the picture of BP standing right by GB’s behind!! lolol!

  12. 5-3
    9:31
    am

    Take heart. The bellowing won’t go on for more than a few days. That’s all the longer ours bellow. Not sure if you’ll be able to put the two of them back together again though without her going back to nursing. You may have to wait a few months for that to work. :moo:

  13. 5-3
    9:32
    am

    Willow’s calf should be weaned too but I couldn’t stand the bawling by both parties! I also didn’t want to milk 7 days a week. The calf will be 7 months old which is when you wean beef calves.

    I am postponing it until May 29 when I dry Willow….and the bawling will begin once again.

    The longer you keep them separated the better the weaning will be!
    They have been together so long, it may take quite a while. Test it first by letting BP in with the calf….or which ever way it will be easier to separate them again….if need be.

  14. 5-3
    1:29
    pm

    BP was from a milking operation, right? It’s probably the first time she ever got to keep a baby, at least past a few days! She must have been so happy to have GB with her for so long. Hopefully the “singing” won’t be for too long!

  15. 5-3
    1:44
    pm

    I can see Nutmeg saying that.

  16. 5-3
    1:48
    pm

    Glory Bee: “That interfering woman!!!”

  17. 5-3
    2:44
    pm

    Nutmeg looks like a Pygmy goat next to Glory Bee. Cute pic!

  18. 5-3
    3:52
    pm

    I was reading this story as such a serous matter, until the last sentence. It made me laugh. Thanks for letting us know that peace won’t be found at your farm for a while. Hope quiet returns soon.

  19. 5-3
    8:33
    pm

    I think the song BP maybe singing in “Oh Suzanna”. Both Mom and baby are beauties; reminds me of the cows that we had when I was a kid growing up in Northern NY. Have a great week!

  20. 5-3
    10:17
    pm

    I hope you are a HEAVY SLEEPER!!! We do this every year and it only lasts a week or so, but we NEVER put the babies back with the mothers for a month or more. Good BLESSINGS lady

  21. 5-3
    10:26
    pm

    Good luck with the weaning Suzanne…should be a real learning experience for everyone!

  22. 5-4
    12:19
    am

    Hi Suzanne!
    I’ve been a lurker for the past few months with the occasional ‘Include me!’ on your drawings :) but in light of recent posts I thought it was time for me to speak up.
    First off let me just say how much I LOVE this blog! I am a city girl always dreaming of going back to a simpler life (acres, animals, do-it-yourself projects) and this place has been a huge source of encouragement for me in midst of the city slickers who just can’t wrap their mind around WHY on earth would I ever want to leave. lol And I LOVE the fact that you are so open about this journey you share and that you ARE learning as you go.
    That being said, I have usually avoided reading the comments because of the occasional (blatant) negativity. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there are MANY who may and do offer a very helpful, insightful suggestion but I am glad that there is now an option to flag a comment when it goes out of line and demonstrates a sense of disrespect towards you, us as your readers/contributors, or the community as a whole.
    I applaud your bravery and steadfastness (and everyone else) for putting yourselves out there and there should be no reason for us to feel a need to censor what the realities of life are, especially farm life. I love sharing in the good, bad, AND the ugly. This place is the highlight of my day.
    Thanks again for all you do and keep it up!

    Cheers! :D

  23. 5-4
    12:55
    pm

    I sure hope weaning goes beter than it did with my youngest son!!
    Please keep your farm ‘storylike’ I love it, and appreciate that you share your life and dreams with us.

  24. 5-6
    9:30
    pm

    Can the two cows see each other? I think that GB will be more inclined to go back to nursing if put in with Mum too soon. BP is probably glad its over!!! She may just deliver a swift kick to the head if GB gets too rambunctious. Although we had one milker who would let any and all calves nurse anytime they felt like it.

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