It’s been almost two months since I worked out a peace agreement with Glory Bee. There was all that turmoil, trouble, and tribulation because I didn’t get a halter on her at an early enough age. People, trust me, don’t wait till the calf is two weeks old! (Don’t know about all my turmoil, trouble, and tribulation with this calf? Read the posts from the last few months in the Cows archives.)
Glory Bee, at two weeks. (Already gone wild.)
What a cute little thing she was! WHAT A DEVIL.
It took another month after that to catch her.
This was followed by a couple more months of struggling to tame the wild child.
Another struggle was figuring out how, within the constraints of the setup I have on my farm, to share Beulah Petunia with Glory Bee. I tried all sorts of solutions. For awhile, I kept BP in the goat yard. But that left me with no milk since Glory Bee had a full access pass to mommy. I tried using the goat pen, bringing each of them in there. It was difficult and didn’t last. Taking Glory Bee out to BP was like trying to haul around a Tasmanian devil. Just when each attempt outlasted my strength to go on with it, I’d try a new plan.
And then I found THE plan, the one that worked for me.
If you are new at having a dairy cow (and especially new at having calves), don’t be discouraged if you fail at first! You can get the calf back under control, but it takes time. And it’s better if you don’t let it out of your control to begin with. Soon as the calf is dried off after it’s born, GET A HALTER ON IT. After that, there is no one “right” way to handle your cow and calf, only the way that works for you. For what it’s worth if this helps anyone else, this is my method, which has the following good points:
1. Means I don’t have to milk every day.
2. Keeps mommy and baby together (part-time).
3. Works for me.
(FYI, this method is something you’d want to start after the calf is a few months old. Before then, the day of separation would be hard on the calf. You’d need it to be accepting a milk bucket or bottle. OR, if you have a halter on it–and you do, right?– you could manage back and forthing with the baby. Once the baby is a few months old and nibbling some hay and so on, you could start this method.)
I have a milking day and Glory Bee has a milking day. We share custody of Beulah Petunia.
On my milking day, BP is in her pasture, not far from the goat yard where Glory Bee is. BP has spent the night there. I milk her morning and evening. After the evening milking, I take her to the goat yard. (She takes herself. I have a little video of this process here.) I open the gate from Beulah Petunia-land and she heads for the goat yard gate like a heat-seeking missile. Glory Bee is always there waiting for her. Mooing. Desperate for mommy!
I let BP into the goat yard and she spends the night in the goat yard with her baby, and she will spend most of the next day there. This is Glory Bee’s milking day. She has mommy all day. In the evening, I take BP out, back to BP-land where she’ll spend the night, away from baby, filling up her udder so I can have my milking day.
We do this routine over and over, trading off milking days. (And Glory Bee actually nurses every day because even on my milking day, she gets BP back in the evening.) They have adjusted to the routine, and tolerate their separation with moos and bellows that only increase close to the evening of their every-other-day reunion. They know when the reunion is drawing nigh and they are eager for it. They have set their internal clocks to the schedule.
Glory Bee and I have been so happy with this custody arrangement that it has continued for nigh on two months! And will continue for the foreseeable future, until such time as Glory Bee is finally too old or too big or BP just says, GET OFF ME, YOU GIANT BABY!
Meanwhile, I’ve continued to work on my “relationship” with Glory Bee. She is very curious about me. She follows me everywhere she can, runs along the fence to “follow” me outside the goat yard. When I go into the goat yard, she tags along behind me like a toddler holding an apron string.
I think she needs her halter loosened again, but I don’t try to do stuff like that by myself (because I’m not insane), so I have to wait for help.
She’s not affectionate. Meaning, she is leery of being petted, but she will let me, just barely. At five months old now, she is still skittish, but she has come a long way from the wild thing that was racing along the ridgetop above the house a few months ago.
She is slowly, slowly, slowly accepting me, if not as her friend, at least as her farmer.
She’s right on me, every step.
Contemplating whether or not to let me touch her with my evil fingers.
Everybody else in the goat yard is right on me, too.
I’m really popular!
She’s bigger than the donkeys now.
She doesn’t look as big next to mommy.
She sure loves her mommy. And she loves everything about her!
As to when we will have another one of these giant farm babies (a calf), I’ve decided to wait for early summer to breed BP. Glory Bee was born in the fall. This makes the drying off period late summer/early fall. And milking in the winter. I don’t know what they were thinking. That’s no good. She’s my cow now, and I’m setting her on a schedule that works for me. I don’t want to milk her in the snow in January and February. A March baby sounds good to me. So, that’s the plan. BP is already knitting giant booties!! (She wanted to get a headstart.)
P.S. There may be a pop quiz. Please memorize the answer to the following question. “When should I get a halter on my new calf?” IF YOU’RE ASKING THIS QUESTION, IT’S ALREADY TOO LATE! Just kidding. Go ahead, have a cow (and a calf). Even if you mess up at first, you can recover. After a suitable period of turmoil, trouble, and tribulation. But if your cow has NOT had her baby yet, get a halter and get it on that baby right away!!