Monday, March 29, 2010

Put out to Pasture

Here's a little video of the fun after we moved Jean, Connie, Sid and Red from the corral out to the pasture last night.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Calving Season

Here's our second calf born March 10: Sid the bull. And with that, calving season is over. Yay!

Here's a new set of statues in Vancouver on Cambie and Broadway near the new skytrain station.

The birth of Sid went very well. However, I was fretting the whole time because the day Connie went into labour, I discovered a deep cut on one of her teats. I knew this would interfere with the calf being able to get near her udder to get his first drink, but since she was already going into labour, it was too late to call the vet to stitch her up. So Sid was born. And sure enough, every time he went for the udder Connie would turn away. I was happy to see she didn't kick him away, though. When he came too close to the wounded teat, she would just nudge him away with her knee. We watched and fretted for three hours, hoping he'd figure out that she had a non-sore side of her udder. But he didn't. So at midnight, I called the Dad Rescue Team and we tied Connie up (which went very well considering she'd never had a halter on before) and I was able to heave the calf up to her udder and get him a drink.

With the first drink in him, he knew what he was after, and Connie was reassured that he wasn't hurting her. So we went to bed and I was at the vet's door at opening time the next morning. The vet arrived at noon, sedated and stitched up Connie, and assured us that Sid was a lively and healthy calf.

Sid may be healthy, and he has moments of lively, but in between, he's more like a turtle. He tiptoes veeeery slooooowly as if he's not sure there isn't a land mine somewhere around here. He is gaining weight, and I see him have the occasional burst of galloping, but then he stops...lowers his head...peers around...and tiptoes. It seems odd, but then, I have little experience with these creatures!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Barred Owl

Yesterday, we had a noon visit from a barred owl. In this picture, he's in the tree to the right of the bridge.

I'm not sure why he was up at noon. He closed his eyes a lot as if he was enjoying the sun on his back. He was completely unconcerned about us stalking him with the camera.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Birth

The only way I could agree to getting into the cow business was to figure out how we could do it without eating any of them. So I bought Purebred Red Angus cows as breeding stock. The bull calves we will sell as bulls, and, like Ferdinand, they will have happy lives in green, flowery pastures. The heifer calves we will keep as future moms. So there. No one has to eat anybody. I'm not a vegetarian, I just don't think I could bring myself to eat one of my pets!

So, Jean's delivery went like the text book (which, with a little verbal advice from local farmers, was all I had to go on). She had a contraction when I was feeding her at 6:00 pm, so I checked on her at 8:00 and her water had broken. She settled down for some serious pushing about 8:30, and then soon after the front feet showed up in the right position. Phew! Meanwhile, I was extremely stressed about dealing with a problem birth on my own. A friend of mine happens to be a vet tech...I texted her from the barn and she was not in town! Horrors! But she kindly gave me text support through the whole procedure! Thank you Sue!

The little guy "Red" was born just after 10:00. Jean didn't get up, so we rushed over (me and my two anony-mouses) and made sure he got his first breath. Then we urged Jean up and retreated to give her time to bond. She was neat to watch when she turned and caught scent of the calf. Her eyes went wide and she sniffed him all over and kind of paced on the spot, being close enough to lick him but not so close she'd step on him.

Thirty minutes later, the drama started. The book said the calf has to get up within thirty minutes to drink. Has to. Or he'll die, is what I thought it meant. It turns out it's not quite that urgent. But at thirty minutes, he'd tried and failed to get up, so we were in there trying, without getting in the way of Jean, to get him up and to her udder. He was about eighty-five pounds and I couldn't lift him with him still wet and slimy. We struggled and smeared until finally I was worried about interfering with the bonding, so we backed off, scared out of our minds. The little guy was shivering, and seemed so weak, and now we'd probably messed up Jean and she'd reject him. Without a warm tummy-full of milk, I figured it was straight down hill from there.

I texted my friend, and when she didn't reply instantly, I cracked and called the vet. She said he had twelve hours to get that first drink in him. She said leave him be and see what happens. Within ten minutes he was up and heading for the udder. Who knew! So as he guzzled, and milk drooled out of his mouth, and Jean mooed contentedly, we stared at our slimy clothes and shook our heads.