…is the work that awaits me. About 100 feet of fence to put back up. If the rain lets up enough for the ground to firm enough to stand on to drive T-posts… whew. That was quite the sentence. And possibly more work than the fencing.
Everything is there. I just have to drive the posts and reattach the tape. On the up side, it is near the barn. the worst part of fencing is lugging all the the fence to wherever it has to go in. I’m going to take the opportunity to put in a gate at the back of the barn, too, so I have easier access to taking Sully in and out when he’s in the front pasture.
Isn’t it, that we get snow in January? Okay, that was sarcastic, in case my intonation was lost in the printed word!
We awoke to little more than an inch of the white stuff. I think it actually fell before we went to bed last night. It’s very light and powdery, and is sure to be short-lived, which, really, is my most favorite kind of the white stuff. Unless by white stuff we’re talking about that powdery sugar they put on those tiny donuts. Yum. Yes, that is my true favorite.
We had a bit of snow on the ground the morning the Chuckster arrived, which I doubt he remembers. After snarfing down his milk, I put the lead on him and took him out the back door of the barn. He was merrily following along, being very respectful, for once, until his little cloven feet contacted that calf-eating substance, at which point he slammed on his famous brakes. He looked at me, as if to say, “You want me to what? To STEP on it?” I let him think about it, and then he stuck out a toe, like someone testing the temperature of bath water. He jerked it back, and gazed up at me again. “If you really cared about me, mama, you would not lead me into certain death.”
I demonstrated that it could be walked on without any harm coming to me. He believed me and bolted after me, as though doing so quickly would allow him to outsmart any potential harm. He asked nicely if he could walk close to me, so I let him, tied him up and showed him his hay. He stuck his nose into the white stuff, gave it a taste, and decided it wasn’t so bad, after all.
Steve came with me, in case there were any travel difficulties, and I regretted that decision. The roads were fine for the AWD Subaru, but as soon as Steve’s lungs hit the cold air, he couldn’t stop coughing and choking. He sounds terrible this morning. He has a pretty bad headache, too, which the coughing does not help. Do I smell a sick day coming tomorrow?
I’d love to take a snowy ride today, but I’m fighting the crud, too, so that may not be wise. We’ll see.
Steve accompanied me to the barn this morning, since I am still without wheels, and will be for the foreseeable future. It’s foggy and drizzly this morning, but the animals both seemed relaxed and content. Chuck seems to finally have gotten over his cat-like finicky-ness and I heard him body slamming the empty bucket while I was filling the hay net.
I opened the door, and there was Chuck, stupid steer calf extraordinare. He was facing away from the door, against the wall opposite where I’d left the milk bucket, with nose in the air and said bucket upside down on his head. He was bouncing it like a seal. I expected to hear him bark.
I awoke this morning planning on a morning full of article writing and an afternoon on the trail. What actually happened was a morning full of chasing unfulfillable titles and an afternoon of fatigue-induced laziness. In my defense, I believe I am holding at bay the cold the Steve had all weekend and is still suffering from. The laziness did me good, as I actually feel perkier this evening than I have all day. Perhaps I have successfully dodged the rhinovirus bullet.
Since I didn’t get out for my ride, I knew I needed to run over and feed Sully this afternoon, as I didn’t have his hay and all prepared for Jenny. I went over around 4. He was dozing in a sunny spot in the paddock and woke up to meet me at the gate. On impulse, I grabbed his bridle off the rack and stuffed my pockets with spearmint starlights. He loves those things. I’m pretty sure that’s how they taught Mr. Ed to talk!
I bridled him and led him to the tailgate of the truck where he obligingly stood so I could climb on. My bareback skills are rusty, to say the least, as I’ve not done much of that since moving over to Keno. On top of it, he was suddenly extremely energetic. The good thing about Sully is that he just doesn’t do stupid stuff if he knows you’re not securely in place. So I found my seat in the center, and rode him up the fenceline, around the corner and into the pasture.
Chuck, the exponentially enlarging Jersey bull calf, spends these pretty days staked with a soft rope in the middle of this pasture with a stack of hay bales to protect him from the wind. He has a circle roughly 30-40 feet in diameter in which to safely frolic. Sully had yet to get close to this anomaly, a calf on a string, if you will. He was more than curious. I was a little clenched, I must say, waiting for him to jump sideways and leave me suspended in mid-air. Let me tell you, the ground gets farther away and harder with every passing year.
I gave Sully a moment to get a grip on himself. When he realized that it was all harmless enough, and that those hay bales were, in fact, edible, I continued riding him around a bit. On about the second trip around, I realized Chuck’s rope had worked loose from the stake. Only Chuck didn’t know it. He was remaining within his circle even though the rope was dragging uselessly behind him. I started to get off then. What would happen if he bolted, dragging that snake of a rope, under Sully’s belly?
I sat and watched him for a moment, then decided to chance it. I rode to the farthest side of the pasture and made a big loop, stopping once again within 50 or so feet of the untied calf. Suddenly, Chuck realized he was free. He took off running and bucking, straight for the barn, straight through the barbless wire fence. We were standing right next to that fence when he hit it, and it twanged enough to make Sully give a little start. I let him look around, and he settled right back down. I decided we better call it an afternoon and round the little hellion up.
We returned to the tailgate calmly and uneventfully. Sully sidled up to it so I could step off, without my even asking him to. He’s so funny. As I slid off, wondering where the heck that calf was and hoping he hadn’t gone across the road to meet the neighbors, Sully heaved this huge sigh and snort as though I’d just run the snot out of him. He can be a bit dramatic. I gave him another couple of mints and put him away, still wondering what had become of Chuck Roast.
I rounded the corner into the barn and there he was looking at me, his trailing rope caught securely around the support post at the back of the barn. He batted those long lashes at me and bleated mournfully. I had to sit down and have a good laugh at him.
Not the brightest bulbs in the cupboard, those Jersey bull calves.
I have not blogged about the events of Wednesday. I initially thought I’d like to do a detailed, play by play, point by point analysis on the day, complete with pictures. I’ve decided I don’t have the patience for it! (I seem to be low on that commodity these days.) In the interest of not having gaps in my blog history, I feel it should be mentioned here, with a few pictures.
As most knew, Daisy was due to calve today, the 5th. Cows often go before or after their calendar due dates, just like people, and she dropped her little bull calf in about an inch of wet snow on Wednesday morning, November 30. All seemed well, but there were factors at play that we didn’t understand.
My dad was standing out with me, and I dragged the wet, sad-looking little thing from where she’d dropped it, which just happened to be practically in the barbed wire fence (why the heck do they do that???) Daisy was licking and nuzzling him a little, but seemed completely indifferent to my presence. That isn’t normal. Even if she accepted our presence, most new mothers are still protective and working to get the little one dry and on its feet and enjoying its first meal. She was doing none of those things. My dad was saying it just didn’t seem right in his experience.
I got a tube of calcium paste down her gullet with little difficulty, and we continued to stand back and hope Daisy would do her thing. After 45 minutes of waiting, we started to get concerned. It was cold and windy, and the calf had barely attempted to stand, and Daisy still hadn’t gotten him dry. So Dad asked me if I thought I could carry the slippery 60 pound calf to the barn, a good 250 feet away over just as slippery ground. I said I thought I could, so I picked him up, and Dad went ahead and got the doors open for me (he was wearing his good clothes and boots, and was trying to stay out of the poop.)
Once in the barn, I finished Daisy’s job of drying the calf off, and then set to trying to get it to nurse, unsuccessfully. Jenny arrived shortly thereafter, had as little luck as me getting the two interested in one another, or in getting more than a cup of colostrum milked out of Daisy.
Long story short, the vet was called when Daisy started convulsing and went down in the stall and refused to get back up. In a matter of a few hours, she was taking her final breath as the vet’s lights came down the drive. And the little bull calf was not at all thrilled with the bottle.
The following morning, we cut out the wall of the barn so Daisy could be removed. Aaron used a mini-backhoe with a boom attached to drag her out and to the back of the property for burial. Even though the vet said milk fever (a mineral deficiency) was definitely part of the problem, she suspected something else may have been at play for her to have gone down and died so quickly.
Neighbors provided colostrum for little Chuck Roast that first day, and are providing us with a gallon a day of milk to raise him on, free of charge, for now. He’s taking the bottle with gusto at each feeding, and follows us around like a puppy whenever we’re there. I feel certain that had Dad not been there last Wednesday, we’d have lost them both, because I take a hands-off approach where baby animals are involved, in the interest of not interfering. I didn’t have enough experience to know when it was time to step in.
Today I taught him a little about leading and being tied. He caught on quickly. He also got his first taste of the electric fence. It’s not strong enough to hurt him, which we are going to have to remedy!
Caring for Chuck is a learning experience, and a lot of fun. Sully is getting over his jealousy, and Dixie and Blue are both learning to share protective responsibilities. Though Chuck is destined for the freezer, it will be awhile, and in the meantime, he’ll learn his place on the farm. And the lessons Daisy left us with are invaluable. I don’t know whether or not there will ever be another cow; we’ll take that as it comes.
Today, Steve and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. It doesn’t seem like it’s been half that long, as I briefly look back on it. But it has seen a lot of changes.
Back to the present, as I don’t have a reminiscent nature. We have a gift certificate to a really nice restaurant that we’ve been saving for something special. Steve got off work early today and surprised me by suggesting we go use it tonight. What a treat! So that is what we’ll be doing this evening. I’m gonna eat me some cheesecake!
I leave you with a somewhat boring video I took this morning of the newest addition to the farm. Yes, that is me, mooing at him. He is, as yet, nameless, but all things in due time!
We have a cow. (In spite of being told for years to not have a cow, man.) (Okay, that was pretty bad. I haven’t had breakfast yet.) Her name is Daisy and she’s a 6 year old Jersey due to calve around Thanksgiving. This means two things: 1) The fence now MUST be done by Saturday, as she is being delivered this weekend. B) Jenny and I will officially be milkmaids.
I am really excited. Unlike last fall when we had a cow named Dink (the name really said it all; we should have known better!) for 4 hours, we are ready for this one. Or will be upon fence completion.
I am hoping that Sully, after a brief period of adjustment, will see her as a herdmate. I know he’s lonely with no other livestock in sight, so I’m hopeful.
So today, I will be fencing, I’m sure. Hoping to knock out an article or two first thing this morning.
In other news, we had pizza for supper last night. It was uber yummy.