Sunday, June 30, 2013

It's a Boy!

That's right! Last night Jason went up to round up the cows at milking time and found that Bonnie had had her baby!  In all the excitement, the baby calf got spooked and ran into the woods.  Mama Cow didn't seem concerned at all and went with Jason to the dairy barn for her afternoon treat.

Cows are different in how they raise their babies.  Mama cow will tell the calf to lay down somewhere and then leave for a while to go and graze.  When baby calf lays down in the grass she is almost IMPOSSIBLE to spot.  I'm sure Bonnie had already had a spot where she had had her  baby lay down, and that the baby was going there, but WE didn't know where that spot was and it was getting dark.  We also wanted to lock the cows in the barn for the night, so we could keep a close watch on Bonnie (dairy cows can get a sickness called "milk fever" when their milk comes in that can kill them. It's treatable, but has to be caught early).  Bonnie didn't seem interested in showing us where that spot was either. (I have also heard a rumor that mothering instincts have been breed out of dairy cows.  Most dairies separate baby and mama pretty fast, and breed those cows who seemed to be most okay with that. So, we didn't know if Bonnie was going to step up to the plate to be a good mama, or if she cared more about her evening grain then her baby).

Everyone was searching for the calf. Jason's dad was in town and was covered in sweat as he meandered through the woods.  A neighbor's family came out and helped.  Jason says he wasn't worried about finding the calf but I was.  We didn't know how old the calf was (a few hours or a whole day?) and if he had nursed yet. We also  didn't know if it was a boy or a girl!  I was walking around with the kids and a flashlight and they were obviously done for the day. I wasn't, and I find that is one of the hardest things about being a farmer's wife. Wanting to be a part of what is going on, but knowing that my responsibility first is to the care of my children. So, I was pushing the kids a little bit, cause I couldn't go home knowing that there was a baby calf alone in the woods somewhere.  My daughter stopped whining eventually and started catching fireflies (which by the way are absolutely magical!).

I finally hear a "I found it!," from the neighbors teenage daughter and my heart leaped.  All the men on the search team were amazed cause they had searched that spot numerous times, but I was not surprised that a girl found the baby. :)  A man picked up the baby calf, and put him in the back of Jason's dad's truck and there we all gave the adorable baby calf a rub down and discovered that he was a boy.  We let the teenage girl who found him name him:  Levi.  And no, not Levi like the jeans, but the scriptural Levi.

So, we have a little baby boy and a little baby girl.  My four year old daughter is ecstatic because there is a girl calf for her and a boy calf for my toddler son.  Having a boy calf raises some questions though; what do you do with it?  Our most trusted mentor here told us to not raise him up for meat to sell because Jersey cows are very boney and at processing places, they measure a cow's hanging weight and thats what they charge you on.  With a Jersey cow, you are paying for bones.  But, we could raise him up for meat and process him ourselves?  Or we could sell the calf as humanely raised veal in a couple of months.  Jason says that some good shoes are made from calf leather.

Wich brings me to my last point of discussion.  We have been offered money for our baby girl calf and it took a lot of discernment on what to do.  Our cows will give birth to new calves every year or so, and we can't keep them ALL can we? But, as a nursing mother, I can't stand the thought of separating mama and baby so young.  It seems right and natural to raise up the calves to an older, more independent, weaned age before we sell them (if we do!).  We are really passionate about family milk cows, and decided that we want to raise up the girls to be family milk cows for other families.

An apostolate of milk cows.  The one cow revolution!

1 comment:

  1. We usually don't sell our bull calves, but process them ourselves, usually before they become bullish or before they are a year old. Sure, they don't have as much meat, but Jersey meat is very rich. We keep them on milk (bottle fed or in a bucket) for a couple months and slowly start hay and grain (or pasture if you have it.)

    Our first calf was a heifer. We sold her at about breeding age figuring with 2(3) milk cows we'd have more heifers. Never have-only bull calves. We are hoping for one in August!!!

    Cheers, Jim