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Gansey Heart Woman

February 14, 2011

I can’t believe how fast Jane has grown, she is closing in on 9 months of age.   And I really can’t believe how patient I have become, waiting for her to grow up is an exercise in fortitude.  This has to be the longest I have went in my adult life without milking a cow 😦  But with the daily training of Jane I am getting my milk cow fix.  It will have to do.  She won’t be trained like a mustang in 3 days, because I like working with her every day.  Plus I am getting a little long in the tooth for too much rodeoing.  The more she knows now, will be that much less I have to deal with when she freshens, the time which is always fraught with anxiety on both sides of the deal.   Or at least it is with me.  I am always glad when the first 3 weeks after calving has passed, and the routine is set in stone.

She is on her last bag of milk replacer, and I am glad of that.  A bottle calf is a bottle calf no matter how sweet they are.  I am her surrogate mama and she will forever think of me like that.  So these days I am making a flight zone with a good-sized limb when walking in the pasture, light enough to carry, and long enough to keep her about two feet from me, if she is on my heels.  Our daily routine now consists of Jane on pasture all day, and stabled at night.  This gives me a chance to handle her twice a day and refine her manners and to gauge how much she is eating.  Her diet now consists of full-time pasture during the daylight hours, 1 gallon of milk replacer in the morning, and about 25 pounds of hay & 1 pound of grain during the night.

Jane is curious and inquisitive about anything, and is always glad to see us.  I really like her personality.

Another big milestone has been reached too – cervical mucous signaling she is going to start coming into season on a regular basis.

Mornings are a little more relaxed and there is time for cow “lessons.”  Being tied while her stall is cleaned, being brushed, and mainly handling to the point of boredom.  Generally just getting her used to the morning din, and to help her feel safe in her stall surroundings, because her calf will be in her stall waiting for her someday.  It’s helpful if she thinks her stall is a safe depository for her baby.  Dogs are a no-no during calving and the first week, but can be slowly reintroduced into the chore routine when the hormones die down a little.  It’s not funny when dogs hide behind you when the cow is looking to kill them for looking at her calf!  Instinct kicks in and the normal, quiet dog/cow relationship becomes predator/prey in a heartbeat.

Coiffed and ready for the day.

The thing about adjustable halters is that they always need adjusting 🙂

She’s so patient with me…

Another day has started.

29 Comments leave one →
  1. February 14, 2011 10:09 pm

    Man she’s a pretty heifer. I can’t get over how much prettier dairy cattle are than beef cattle- I mean, even though they’re cows, they still have a certain delicacy about them, if you know what I mean.

    • February 15, 2011 5:41 am

      Paula, yes they are a little more delicate looking. I couldn’t pick a favorite though, I love my Herefords as much, something about that stark white against the red when you see a brand new calf. I like them all 😀

  2. nana permalink
    February 14, 2011 11:13 pm

    Puts me back to Europe, the warm barn, the calfs, the smell of hay, the din at feeding time and the warm milk fresh from the cow.
    I love to visit your web site.

  3. February 14, 2011 11:32 pm

    I love your pictures and stories of Jane. She is such a lovely girl!

  4. February 15, 2011 4:23 am

    Dear Matron she is doing well. I love calving time but look forward to slowing down a bit. We now have gotten to the half way mark. Not to many problems. More heifers then bulls so far but this usually evens out by the time we are done. They are getting to sow their wild oats if you know what I mean. Had some adventure yesterday. Should be fun in the spring. We are at -15c here today so still snow and now ice. Have fun. B

    • February 15, 2011 5:38 am

      Buttons, I have a while to wait before calving – late May here. Hope it warms up for you soon!

  5. Kristin permalink
    February 15, 2011 4:44 am

    I know this is off topic but I notice you are wearing Much Boots. How do they hold up? My local co-op carries them. Sadly, they are made in China. So I’m skeptical. Thanks, Nita!

    • February 15, 2011 5:35 am

      Kristin, grrrr hiss, they have cheapened them considerably since I bought my first pair quite a while ago. The first pair lasted a long time. The second pair not so much, then I switched to Bog which my daughter had abused for some time and they held up the same, and my feet were killing me. So I switched back to Muck, so far these have held up but time will tell. My feet don’t hurt, and these boots are warm, as in one pair of socks warm in cold weather. I wrote about my boot angst before and Xtra-Tuff boots were recommended. I have only been able to find them mail order, which if I don’t get the size and fit right, it costs me more in gas to get things returned than it is to just by the dang boots at the feedstore, made in China or not. I got these on sale, with an extra discount at purchase time through DH’s work. That being said, I am hard on boots and wear them many months of the year, even in summer. It’s nice when wading through knee high grass I don’t have to worry about getting my jeans and feet wet. For occasional wear or in snow they last a long time – DH’s have lasted 8 years – he still has his original thicker pair. That’s my 2 cents 🙂

  6. Jenj permalink
    February 15, 2011 4:50 am

    She is one gorgeous girl!

    Isn’t it wonderful to spend a little quality time with your critters at the start of the day? I love tending to the horses in the mornings before going off to my “city” job. It really starts they day off nicely and puts everything in some sort of perspective. 🙂

  7. February 15, 2011 5:53 am

    We’re new cow owners of a cantankerous Dexter heifer whom I’m sure we’re torturing with our inexperience, which is why I greatly appreciate you sharing your wisdom here. She has become quite sour this winter especially after she was bred and then when we stopped milking her. Should we be handling her daily like this to improve her temperament?

    • February 15, 2011 6:32 am

      Quinn, I would if I were you, if you have time. Food is a powerful motivator, as in Jane gets her feed after she is lead to her stall, stopping on command at the gate and then again through the gate, waiting for me to close the gate and turn the fence back on. 5 minutes a day make a huge difference. When she calves, I will expect her to just come to her stall from wherever she is pastured, without leading, it will be that ingrained in her noggin. With that in mind I am establishing lots of routines with her, every barn door and pasture gate gets used, so she knows what to expect in those places, things like scary compressors, dark places, dogs leaping off the hay stack etc.

      My cows all talk to me, and ask for food because I feed them. So when they say something I listen. Feeding daily goes a long way to that end. Or in the summer, I move them daily to fresh grass, so they know I am the bringer of food. Sometimes too, it is a mineral imbalance that brings out the bad behavior and makes them crabby, loose minerals instead of block can help on that end. And some cows just have a persnickety disposition (like us) and don’t want too much handling.

      • February 15, 2011 5:36 pm

        I knew there was a reason I don’t blog when the kids aren’t napping… of course she’s a cow, not a heifer. Anyway… thanks for your advice. We’ll be adding daily handling and hopefully between that and the kelp we started giving her last month, she’ll warm up to us.

        • February 15, 2011 6:40 pm

          If she doesn’t after you have put in some time with her, at least you’ll know if she is a hands off type of cow, some just are.

  8. Jenny permalink
    February 15, 2011 6:28 am

    The more I read your posts I realize the scope of knowledge you have. One impressed reader!

    • February 15, 2011 9:05 am

      Jenny, thank you – as long as I’m on the subject of cows or gardening I’m pretty safe… 🙂

  9. February 15, 2011 7:09 am

    So much fun watching her grow up! She’s such a pretty little lady!

  10. February 15, 2011 7:14 am

    Every time I read your posts, I am amazed at all you know and do. Just starting out, I don’t even know how much I don’t know until I read another post! Thanks for all the info you share.

    • February 15, 2011 9:07 am

      Mandy, LOL, you’d be surprised at what I don’t know, spending all my time with cows… 🙂

  11. February 15, 2011 8:33 am

    Great post, once more, and again! I just love coming here to see what you are up too and to get my green fix!


    • February 15, 2011 9:08 am

      Linda, we lucked out this year, every time we’ve had freezing weather we have had good snow cover. The grass is growing though, and we’ll have snow this week again when freezing weather hits. It’s nice seeing the green 🙂

  12. susan permalink
    February 15, 2011 8:53 am

    Jane is going to be a wonderful milking cow! What a beautiful little heifer she is. I am waiting (impatiently) for my Jersey heifer to freshen – within the next two weeks! I have to board her with my neighbor, but I spend as much time as I can with her. I love Jerseys, although they can be, well, stubborn. Thanks for all of the good advice and sharing what you do pictorially.

    • February 15, 2011 9:10 am

      Susan, ooh I wish I only had two weeks to wait! It’s not just Jerseys, they can all be stubborn at times 😉 Sending good thoughts your way for successful calving!

  13. February 15, 2011 1:52 pm

    My goodness, she has gotten big! What a beautiful girl she is growing into!
    Good luck with the lessons and training!

  14. February 15, 2011 4:12 pm

    I have to join the chorus. She’s a beautiful gal. Such a sweet face!

  15. February 16, 2011 3:56 pm

    I have fond memories of my dads two Guernseys on our little “farm”

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