Monday, April 4, 2011

The New Guy

This is how I found the new calf this morning in the snowstorm.

Right up at the hay rack like the rest of the herd.  I almost didn't see it.

At first I thought it was a very large heifer calf.

And then I lifted up the cute calf tail and found out that this was a nice bull calf.      110 pounds worth.

I was very happy to see that this calf had a "tear drop" of pigment on its left eye.

His great grandmother, who was my foundation cow, had the exact same spot in the exact same place.  I like pigment around eyes, udders and testicles as it protects the cattle from the harmful effects of the sun.

Better yet was the fact that this calf also had the special protective eyelashes that I have been trying to breed into my cows.

These long angled eyelashes protect cows from sun, bugs and dust.

My cows have good eye lash protection, but my calves from last year had the best and now this calf has excellant lashes.

It might seem like a dumb thing to most folks, but with drought caused dust, flys and other crap blowing around in the air it is important to have "natural" protections from debris and sun.
It does not cost anything to select for it and it pays off in the long run when your cows don't get eye problems like other cows do.

Next time you are out looking at your herd, look at their eyelashes.

As the new calf met his interested herd mates, I went to my truck and got my equipment to band and tag him before he could out run me.

Tools for the job:

High rubber boots that the mud can't suck off.
Gloves.  I needed water proof ones today.  Of course I do not own any.
Went through 3 pairs of assorted gloves before the day was over and they are all dripping in the laundry room right now.  Invest in a waterproof pair of gloves.
Bander-- a special green rubberband is put on this devise and then the calfs testicles are slipped through it as you squeee the handle to open the elastic band.     Have to make sure that there are TWO testicles in the band before slipping the band off.  I always use TWO bands as an insurance policy against breakage or human error.
Ear tagger and eartags-- I ordered my eartags about 3 weeks ago, and went with low numbers this time around.
You load the ear tag and the round pin in the ear tag gun. Have to make sure that both pieces "sit" in the applicator correctly before actually putting them in the calf's ears.
Cow Diary--All cow info should be documented in a field book every day.
Graham Crackers-- some people drink champagne to celebrate.  Here, we cracker it up!  And... there is molasses in them which also helps the cows.  Less mess too.

As I headed back out to the hay rack with my little calf bucket of equipment, I was thinking about what to name this calf.   He is from my "G" line of cows.
( Google, Gracie, Gwen ).  After all these years of calves from the G-cows, I am just about out of G names.

However, it seemed appropriate to name this boy after my dad, since it would have been their 63rd anniversary today.   My mom would always say that my dad was her "#1 Guy."

So, I put Guy's license plates on and made him street legal.

Then I made him a steer.

Then Gracie gave him another bath and tried to lick the tags off him.

Now it looks like he is in a perpetual right hand turn.....

Eventually, if I ever get my printer repaired I would like to make a copy of this photo and send it to my 86 year old mom.

As I got ready to leave it started snowing harder.

Calf and mom were fine, so I was not worried. 2 pm the snow suddenly turned into a downpour of rain and wind.

I rushed back to the farm.

I found the calf soaked and shivering

Now I was glad I had made a mini disaster plan 3 weeks ago incase something like this happened.

Remember, we have no barns left.

I had dragged a few bales of shavings across deep snow and into a little bay in the equipment shed last month.  There was only 25 sq feet of usable space near all the disks and seeders, but at least it was covered and reasonably dry.

I unplugged the electric fence and then I walked the calf to the shed, thru the mud and growing puddles of water and manure.  The wind was brutal.

I stood out in the rain while Gracie got comfortable in the shed and the calf ambled around in it.

I could almost watch Gracie's milk dropping.

Gracie wasn't sure she wanted to stay in the shed.
So I started walking back and forth to the hayrack thru the mud and rain, to get hay and deliver it to her.     Meals on Wheels.

She liked that.

Soon a crowd of family members gathered to watch and see if this calf was going to find the milk spigots quickly.

If it wasn't so wet and windy this might have been funny, but I was starting to shiver as well.  Guy was searching for a drink and was close to finding it, but not close enough.

Soon the group was placing bets on how long it would take him....

I was getting wetter.     And colder.        Did I mention that I do not own any water proof gloves ?

A cheer went up from the herd when he finally latched on!

He quickly learned how to nurse from both sides.

He was still shivering after he finished nursing probably because the wind was coming in from all directions.

So I was pleased to see both of them lay down on the dry shavings and hay.

Birth-days are long and this one was cold and wet.

I covered him in hay and he was asleep in 60 seconds.

But still shivering.

So I had to take it up a notch.

Hypothermia can kill new calves.

So I went to my truck and got a nice clean Polartec blanket and wrapped him in it and then covered it in hay.

I am so fortunate that my cows allow me to handle their calves without complaint.

He slept and warmed up for 3 hours.

When I went back to the farm tonight he was up nursing again and then laid back down.  I put the blanket back on him and said good night to all.

Its still pouring out.      I hope he stays in the shed.

I hope we have a new barn by fall.

* I am going to attempt to upload some video here tomorrow of the calf.
Stay tuned.


  1. Wow, What alot of work! I never appreciated cows until I read your blog. I am cold just reading about the work involved, Keep warm little cow and you. Cheri

  2. Congrats on the new calf.
    Reading about your struggles breaks my heart,you are a trooper.
    I hope you get your new barn up by fall,wishing for better weather to come your way.

  3. Wet and wind are the worst for calves ! Even cold temps if they are dry is easier on them.Good looking stout calf there

  4. You handle you cows all the time, that is why they trust you with thier little ones. What a good and informative post.

    Well, done!


  5. great work! and adorable pix! he's a charmer for sure.

  6. Would love to see the video. You are so patient and kind to you cattle.