The Poster Child


It was interesting timing that I caught this incident (which surprised me) on camera several days ago:
I haven’t seen Moon Pie get under Glory Bee in a very long time. Generally, these days, how I wean is that I don’t wean. Once mama gets pregnant again, the older baby will give up to the younger one. For example, when Moon Pie was born and Dumplin had to step aside.

Note Dumplin’s distress here as she realizes a new baby is in town and she’s been edged out:
However, in Moon Pie’s case, there was a year when I missed out on a bull. Glory Bee didn’t get bred again until the following year, so Moon Pie never had a new baby come in to take over at a time when she would have gotten herself out of the nursing habit. Apparently! Because apparently she is still taking nips at mommy’s milk wagon. She probably isn’t doing it very much, since this was the first time I caught her, but she’s doing it.

There are all sorts of reasons for weaning more actively than I do. For one thing, it’s just hard on the cow to never get a break, their drying off time before their next calf. And of course, an older calf doesn’t even need the milk from mommy. And when there’s a new baby, it’s the new baby who needs it, not an older baby who is old enough to have babies herself.

Unless you completely, and longterm, separate a mommy and older baby who isn’t wanting to wean, they might never stop. (Evidence: Moon Pie.) Many people are much more active about weaning than I am these days, but I did attempt to be more active toward it when I first had cows and I used a calf weaner. Also coincidentally, when I posted the photo of Moon Pie sipping on Glory Bee’s udder, someone mentioned calf weaners in the comments. And also also coincidentally, I’d recently had brought to my attention that Glory Bee is (also apparently!) the poster child for animal rights activists opposing calf weaners.

See this post here for my attempt at using a calf weaner in Glory Bee’s young heifer days: Silence of the Calves.

If you’ll note the date at the very bottom of that post, it’s October 2011. (Glory Bee was born in September 2010.) And also note how big Glory Bee is. She’s almost as tall as her mama, BP, and still attempting to nurse. Glory Bee was over a year old at that point. At the time, we were trying a calf weaner on her. Here is the original photo:
Here is the same photo, stolen and used by activists opposed to calf weaners.
Really?! Seriously?!

You can find the post with Glory Bee’s photo used to oppose calf weaners at a website called Vegan Street here.

Did they actually look through the entire post from which they took the photo? Again, my original post is here: Silence of the Calves.

Glory Bee is quite obviously an OLDER CALF, in fact a plump ripe young heifer ready to be bred with a baby of her own. And in case anyone wonders, that weaner is not drilled into their nose or anything. No piercing. It’s got little plastic balls on the ends of this thing you hang from their nostrils. It’s annoying to the animal, I’m sure, but it doesn’t hurt them. And honestly, Glory Bee flung that thing off her nose and into the woods within a few days. I eventually found it and I keep it in the milking parlor along with some other things that I show workshop attendees as curiosities. As I stated above, I now use the new calf route for weaning older calves. Which apparently doesn’t work all that well either! I’m not real intense over weaning anymore.

But, for Glory Bee of all cows–the most spoiled brat cow on the planet–to be used as an activist poster child against weaners?

I don’t know whether to laugh or just roll my eyes.

What do you think about calf weaning tools like this one? Mean, useful, whatever, hit me with it. I’ve got the poster child cow, that must make me the hotline….or complaint desk….or something!

By the way, when I posted about this on my personal Facebook page after I was made aware of it, Morgan just went off, dying of laughter over someone using spoiled brat Glory Bee as a poster child, and began a long round in the comments of puns, mostly by her and my friend Sarah (who also has milk cows). Here are a few of the best ones:

Morgan McMinn: This is funnier than the people coming to the farm complaining that the barn is dirty.

Morgan McMinn: And even funnier than the lady who thought we were starving our very fat horses.

Suzanne McMinn: I’m not sure what to do right now. My cow is so offended.

Morgan McMinn: You need a cow lawyer.

Morgan McMinn: Some one with real mootivation for for this case.

Suzanne McMinn: Someone who would really milk it for all it’s worth!!

Sarah Farris Manry: Someone who won’t let udders get away with this infringement!

Morgan McMinn: Gotta be some one who isn’t afraid to hoof it through the work!

Sarah Farris Manry: Someone who’s ready to horn their way through the mess!

Suzanne McMinn: Glory Bee is so upset, she might never be the same. The bull might have a suit for loss of consortium!

Morgan McMinn: Someone who has a real beef with it!

Sarah Farris Manry: If something isn’t done there’s going to be a lot of crying over spilled milk!

Sarah Farris Manry: I bet Glory Bee is so mad she’s seeing red! Or maybe she’s so mad she’s seeing spots and the bull is seeing red!

Morgan McMinn: Our dairy beloved cows are being disgraced by this propaganda!

Sarah Farris Manry: No worries! With the right lawyer, Glory Bee’s side of the story will be herd!

Sarah Farris Manry: Plus, I’m sure that Glory Bee will post pictures to assure the public that she is treated bovinely.

Morgan McMinn: We need to ring the cattle bell to raise awareness of the offense!

Sarah Farris Manry: More Cow Bell! More Cow Bell! More Cow Bell!

Betsy Ross Pensiero: Well, this is sure a great cowllection of advice.

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For the Love of Hens and Chicks


I am loving having a mother hen with chicks running around the barnyard. There was a time or two back in Stringtown when a hen managed to hatch a chick or two in secret, but the chicks never seemed to make it. They’d be there one day, gone the next. Which made me not want to let them have chicks. It was too sad when the chicks disappeared. This time it’s different. I’m not sure why, but nothing is bothering the chicks and they’re growing.

Here’s how it happened.

We have several game hens. They’re about the size of banties. We have netting over the top of the chicken yard (those game hens can fly like crazy, you can’t build a fence high enough for them), but they manage to push out under the fence, constantly, so several of them have ended up outside the chicken house/yard. (None of the big chickens get out, just the game hens.) They’re feisty devils, those game hens. One of them made a nest in the barn then started sitting on it. Game hens, like banties also, are determined mothers and good sitters. Alas, there are no roosters outside the chicken house, so she was doomed to disappointment. We thought we’d help her out, feeling slightly sorry for her, so one time while she was off the nest to grab a quick drink of water from the creek, we switched out her eggs for eggs from the chicken house. Eventually she hatched five chicks. They were hatched the day before the flood, so they are almost a month old now. She’s been a very good mother and still has all five of her chicks. I decided I like getting chicks this way! They were free, no ordering from a hatchery! I haven’t had to buy any starter for them–she makes sure they get fed! It’s interesting to watch her. She will scratch at the ground, then step aside and let the chicks eat what she’s scratched up.

It’s also so enjoyable to walk into the barnyard and see her strolling around with her babies. It’s adorable. And then there was this sight one recent morning.
Do you see? Up on the hay feeder. That’s about four feet up off the ground, which is amazing.
That the game hen could get up there is no surprise. But the chicks? The CHICKS got up there?
And not ONLY did the chicks get up there with their mama, but one of them is on top of her back!

Meanwhile, by the way, another game hen appeared last week with two newborn tiny chicks. Really? We didn’t even know she had a nest! We were ready to call her The Virgin Mary, then I saw her sneaking back under the fence, into the chicken yard to get to the feed, then back out. That’s how she had some fertile eggs, and probably why she had only two that hatched. She’s going in and out of the chicken yard to eat, and occasionally engaging with a rooster, but not all the time, so she only had two fertile eggs. But, she’s quite proud and happy with her two chicks.

And if this doesn’t stop, soon I’ll have 100 chickens.

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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