Saturday, March 6, 2010

I demand a recount

I am just amazed by how great our weather has been. It has been so nice, so sunny and so few windy days. Not real normal for this time of year in the Columbia basin but I certainly am loving it. Watching the new calves run with their tails in the air on a nice sunny day is about the best mental health medicine I know of.

This morning I wanted to see if the cow that lost her calf would let the orphan calf suck her without being put in the squeeze chute. I gave her some hay, got into the pen with her and pushed the calf towards her. This calf is now just a bit over a month in age which has good points and bad points. The good is that he is aggressive, knows what teats are for and is not at all wobbly when he stands. The bad side is sometimes it seems the cows are more conducive to accepting a young calf like the one they just lost and these older calves will really butt a cows bag to release more milk. This often does not please a cow especially when done by a child she knows it not hers.

As the calf tried to get a teat the cow would kick at him a bit but not terribly. I find that sometimes if I can focus the cow on me or Festus she will forget about kicking and trying to reject the calf. That worked great today, once the calf got a hold of one teat she did not kick anymore as she stared at Festus. The calf was able to suck all four teats and he was full and ready to stop before his new mother was done eating her hay. The same was true this evening and I am very encouraged that this coupling will be a success after a few more days. I find that usually about the third or fourth day the calf’s crap starts to smell right to the mother and then she takes full ownership. A vet told me it is because the milk from her has a particular scent even after digestion. That’s why even a cow that will try hard to reject a calf often will relent after a few days. I can only remember two cows in my whole life that just completely refused to take a new calf. Both those cows were soon converted into Happy Meals.

One way my Dad used to graft calves was to put the cow and calf in a small fairly enclosed space with one of his hunting dogs. Sometimes that was the back of a one ton Chevy stock truck we used to own. Dad would drive all over the place with a cow, calf and German shorthair dog in the back for a few days in a 8 X 14 space. It seemed to work pretty well for the most part. Once it worked a bit too well and during the night there was a loud ruckus outside. The cow had decided the new calf was in danger from the dog and was giving it a bit of a beat down. The poor dog had no where to escape until dad opened the tailgate and let it get free. After that the dog would never get in the back of that truck or any other pickup for that matter.

Nothing too exciting today happened. Only two new calves were born. I am really on the down slope now which is nice. I went into Othello and watched Dakota play in a volleyball tournament for part of the day. I did have one thing happen that I found to be angering but I am sure most of you will find amusing. When I was at Basin City today I had 6 to 8 cows that were out of the corn circle and into the rangeland because someone had left a gate open and it was not me. The cows trailed the pickup and hay back in but because of this I decided I better take a count just to make sure they were all back where they were supposed to be.

I counted the first time and came up one cow short, so I drove around the circle and did not find anything. I thought oh well I must have miscounted so I counted once again. Same thing the second time, I was one cow short. So I took a walk down through some Russian olive trees near where the cows that had been out previously were. I found nothing there so I decided to count just one more time. I was about halfway through my third count when I realized the cow that was missing was at home in the barn. I had loaded her yesterday and taken her home to graft a calf on her. Yeah, THAT cow, I felt like a total idiot and wasted a good 90 minutes on my recounting today.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the American goldfinch which is the Washington state bird.

Today’s picture is not the best but it is cow 7927g with her new grafted calf 0027y, wow I did not realize that connection before I typed that. Anyway, here is the calf sucking her, while she eats and waits for some idiot to include her in his count!