A Comedy of Errors and Whole Lot of BS
Jane has a big announcement to make – she’s pregnant! But who is this handsome fellow in the pasture and more importantly why is he here in November? I was reading a blog post the other day and the writer mentioned the old saying if you want to make God laugh tell him your plans. I’m going to add it’s the same with blogging, if you show just a wee bit of confidence with your plans or words, you get slapped down pretty quick. I’m not even going to bother finding the old post in August where I wrote, ” the AI didn’t take, I’ll just put Jane in with bull, I’m confident that she’ll settle.” Yeah, well so much for that.
I also know that the way the world works is you always blame the woman first for fertility problems. Been there, done that. If it’s a man’s world, it’s also a bull’s world too and bull rental guy’s world. Clears throat. I have to take some blame here for my mindset too, well, a lot of the blame. Grass ceiling, FarmHer, yeah I know new girl farmers, farming in a man’s world is hard. I love it, not really, I hate it. You ever tried shagging parts and having to find the part yourself in the book because the counter guy thinks a V-8 345 is a new vegetable drink. Or taking the haybine driveline back to the repair shop because they welded the U-joint on wrong. Trust me, it’s not fun, because of course you’re a woman and what could you know about such things. The easiest thing to do is to plead ignorance and tell them, “gee my husband told that’s what I was supposed to get.” Trust me you get out there much faster and back with the correct parts, sometimes.
Or this, which usually comes about on farm consults.
“Is that your husband’s truck? It’s so big.”
“Ummm, no actually it’s my truck.”
So do I bother to explain that I have to go pick up a ton of feed on my way home, and I just can’t fit it in my smartcar…no I don’t, because then I would have to explain how it’s just not safe to be hauling a ton of feed in a truck with out the proper suspension, or should I really be driving the econo rig today, while I am out and about. Combining trips? What’s that? Nah, you can’t explain yourself, because it makes it all sound like an excuse. So I don’t, and the part about the smartcar, I made that up. You know what? If I go to a woman’s farm to consult, they never ask me about the truck, if I go to a farm that is mostly menfolk, I get asked and jabbed multiple times about the truck. Go figure, I guess size really does matter… .
So, you can imagine my trepidation about calling the bull rental guy and telling him I think your bull isn’t, uh, DOING HIS JOB! First I have to say, Bull Guy is old, like 85 or so, then there is a slight language barrier if he needs to pull that out, pun intended. He speaks broken German and it’s actually pretty funny and comforting too. A lot of the older folks around here when I was growing up spoke with the same accent. But it ceases to be funny when he pretends he doesn’t understand what I am saying to him. He is getting a bit senile too, he got lost two years ago on his way here, and believe me I have no idea how he got where he did, and it got worse when he called and said he was at the fire station, we gave him directions and he called again lost more than ever, because he didn’t tell us he was in a different town! Anyway, I feel badly for him, and worried, because his bulls are gentle, and when he retires, we will be forced to deal with not having him available or having to buy a bull of our own again. So as maddening as Bull Guy is, he still makes my life fairly easy.
At first it wasn’t apparent that the bull wasn’t okay. I have myself to blame for Jane being bred so late. All this aligned or didn’t as the case may be, because of mistakes I made in judgement. Jane’s first strong heat after calving on June 13th was July 25th. I wasn’t thinking of breeding her until August so I let that one slip by with just a note on the “brain” wall calendar in the kitchen. That calendar is my life with the cows and the grazing rotation. It was however my wake-up call to get on the stick and call the AI Guy. He is just as interesting as the Bull Guy. I know he judges cattle at the fair the next county over. I also know this particular fair has slayed my plans for having him AI my dairy cows in the past. So I called him to see, could he be here that week? Or were his fair duties too much? He left me a message saying he could make it, but he was pretty booked and it would have to be first thing in the morning – first thing means 5:00 am.
Here is was my first mistake, kind of, when Jane came in heat in August, I decided to just put her in with the bull and skip the quest for the possible dairy heifer. That would keep me in good standing with AI Guy. Simple. Jane goes to bull, we put her and the bull in a separate pasture and then go about our merry way until milking. At about this time Bull Guy calls and wants the bull back, which is kind of odd, since only 3 weeks of the 6 weeks has elapsed, hmmm, senior moment. I talk him down, and the bull is scheduled to stay. Perfect until 3 weeks later – Jane becomes the crazy cow in heat! What! Of course, I blamed Jane, there is only one thing worse than being a woman in a man’s world, and that is being a dairy cow in a beef cow world. Dairy cows are not a natural functioning unit compared to a beef cow, they have been bred to give copious amounts of milk, and this literally can milk them of their health, sometimes making them hard to rebreed. If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know Jane is a no resilient homestead cow, she is what she is, so I looked to her for the answer to the repeat heat cycle after being with the bull, and I also thought maybe I brought her home too soon too.
Of course, in my mind AI was out of the question this next time, because I was so sure it was Jane, and AI is not quite as sure as a live cover. So sent her back to the bull, but at the same time I noticed one of the other cows in heat too, that I knew had been serviced. Hmmm, the gears slowly started to turn a little, maybe it wasn’t Jane after all. Could it be the bull? This is my personal cue to turn around and look at this whole wrong thought process/path I have been following. What if? In the next two days, two more cows came in heat and poor ol’ Samson looked like he had quite a hitch in his get-along. It appeared that his hip was bothering him and he just couldn’t get himself up on the cows. I really dreaded calling the
pimp Bull Guy because I knew he would give me a hard time. And he did.
“What did you do to poor ol’ Samson? It must be your cows.”
“Well, he has a bum hip. Half are bred and half aren’t.”
“Harumpf, I’ll come get him then.”
“Okayyyy, but I need another bull pronto.”
“Don’t have one.”
Great! Now besides having a huge calving window next year, I have to mollycoddle this old guy, because I really need a bull from him, and I paid for 8 cows to be bred. I have 4 open cows and no time to find a bull, besides I don’t particularly want to keep a bull anymore, we have too few cows to justify the extra cost and feed for an entire year just for a 6 week stint with the cows.
So it gets worse. Samson goes home, gimping and I felt kind of bad, because I know they come to a bad end at some time, but I have never had one of the rental bulls go bad on me. I liked Samson, and I was sure I just sealed his fate. The standoff occurred when Bull Guy basically refused to bring another bull until I made absolutely sure the cows weren’t bred. So another 3 weeks passed, cows came in heat and I had AI guy out for Jane and made note of the beef cows cycling and called Bull Guy back.
We talked, and he said sure he could bring a Gelbvieh bull on Sunday. How many cows, and what breed. I answered his questions and we made the appointment. You know how after you get off the phone, you go over the conversation in your mind and you realize something isn’t right? He knows what kind of cows I have! Oops senior moment. I called him back and told him again who I was, and geez was he mad. He said he would bring the bull and he hung up on me. Yeah right like it’s my fault. Joey was delivered on a Sunday as promised. I have found the best medicine for Bull Guy and his shenanigans is to have Hangdog present. That really cuts the bullshit. Bull Guy was quite pleasant actually. Of course, he was getting a deal, he had no job for Joey, and here I am feeding the bugger for six weeks while he does three days worth of work. It’s still cheaper for me to have him here, then it is to leave the cows until next breeding season, or to buy a bull. It is what it is. There is no changing the way it all worked out.
In the meantime I had decided to breed Jane AI at her next heat, if it occurred it would be during the window when there was no bull here, and I didn’t want to wait. When you start ticking off the calendar in three-week increments it starts adding up fast. Or in this case getting late in the year for when I want the house cow to calve. Dickie was not to get a baby brother or sister, Jane came into heat again. I called AI guy and asked him about bringing the special semen that he is storing for a friend of mine. Never an easy guy to deal with, he gave the run down on his schedule, he runs all over hill and dale breeding cows at dairies and servicing clients like me with a house cow. Of course, the semen was at his house, and couldn’t I just this one time use the Guernsey bull he had in his tank? I have to tell you at this point, I was so dejected about the entire breeding season with all the cows that I just gave up, and said okay. Just so the cow gets bred. Fine and dandy, he showed up, bred Jane and left me with a due date for next year and the usual goodbye.
“I hope I don’t see you until next year!”
Fast forward three more weeks, Jane is in heat. Now I have moved from dejected to depressed. I have been stressing about the whole mess since the Labor Day, and now it’s almost the end of October. Too long really to not get some action one way or another. I called AI Guy and asked for the special semen.
“Sure, not a problem, I’ll be there this afternoon. I’ll call you from the fruit stand, so you’re ready.”
“See you then.”
He called, I caught Jane and we waited. When he arrived he started suiting up, and then reached into the tank, big pause, and some cussing.
“&*#! I thought I got the right one, and this is a Jersey…”
At that point, what could I do, besides ask myself what else could go wrong with this breeding season? So we went with the Guernsey bull he had in his company tank. After the breeding we talked and he suggested coming back again the next morning and breeding her again. Artificial insemination relies on different timing than live cover, so the twelve-hour back to back breeding is fairly common. He apologized profusely for screwing up the semen, and frankly at this late in the year, I don’t care what she has, just so she is bred. Dealing with a cycling cow is not fun. There is a reason they call it settled when an animal is bred. Now I have my Teatanic back, she is like a slow-moving milk craft carrier, and that’s the way I like it. Slow and easy.
Who’s the daddy? Time will tell, she was bred with two different bulls. They are significantly different in body type so it may be easy to tell, but then again maybe not. Just as long as one of them took, it’s fine. I’m thinking the second breeding is the one though, since we were a little early on the other attempts. Fingers crossed for a pink halter though, I want a girl! As for the other cows, time will tell on them also when the calves come. As it is now, Joey will be home for Thanksgiving and we will be bull less. And for that I will be thankful.