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Almost Two Years Later

January 31, 2012

Two years ago we were waiting for Jane.  Although we didn’t know the calf Della was carrying was Jane.
Della – April 2010.

Della’s calves:  Softie, Deverell, Dale, Delta, Dean, Jetta, Keith, Brooks, unnamed twins, & Jane.

Now we wait for Jane’s first calf.  I’ve learned a lot from each milk cow I have had – Jessie, Sugar, Myra, Lil, Rita, Lee and Della were all good teachers.  Maybe Della the most – she made having a family cow easy and then she taught me not to be complacent.  I do not want to be complacent with Jane.  It hurts too much – you get too attached when you’re only milking one or two cows, or at least I do.  I love my beef cows, but they are less dependent on me.  Dairy cows can be incredibly tough and fragile at the same time, the relationship between the milkmaid and milk cow feels the same.  My heart already aches knowing Jane will grow older, but I know that she must.  It’s the cycle of the farmstead, she’s just one part of the continuing story.  Each one of Della’s calves was different in their own way.  You get to know the house cow’s calf very well, and they you.  You are like a maid, aunt, or babysitter.  Here they are latch-key calves of a sort, while mom is out working (making grass into milk) the calf becomes the relief milker, lawn mower and makes friends with the dogs and cats of the barnyard. 

Jane is starting to make a little bag, I don’t mean she has a little bag, I mean her bag, or udder is developing.  Making bag is everyday talk, as in “That cow is makin’ bag.”

Jane is like a big dog, and used to the “photo shoot” business.

A good tail rub will stop her in her tracks so we can get some photos.

Starting to show.

Always curious.

But she does listen when reprimanded.

I’m in the hedgerow getting a stick for the walk back to the barn.  I rarely have to use it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that just carrying the “stick” gives you a confidence in your stride that the animals sense, and they are less apt to mess with you.  Cows are notorious for wanting to play, and they butt when they play.  The playing is even worse if you’re walking downhill, they get that momentum going and want to run, buck and twist like rodeo bulls.  Playing is a good sign that your cows feel good, but it is no fun when you’re out in the middle of a field with a cow that wants to play.

See how good she is?  I have my stick and my confidence, she just thinks we’re going for a walk.

Jane is due around Memorial Day, she’ll change quite a bit in the next 4 months and I plan on posting about Jane once a month so you can see the difference as she progresses in  her pregnancy.  Fingers crossed.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2012 12:30 am

    Has Jane got an extra teat? Will it cause any issues? She’s looking good – and hard to believe it’s been two years. I’ve been reading your blog for a long while now then!

    • January 31, 2012 5:44 am

      Ms. Lottie, yes, she does, I never did remove it, it is a flaw, but I don’t anticipate any problems with it. Famous last words. She is a big girl now! 🙂

  2. January 31, 2012 3:33 am

    I haven’t visited in awhile because, well, because there’s just too much going on these days, *sigh. Lovely to see Jane so beautiful and grown up. I had to smile at your comment about walking with a stick. I’ve found the same to be true, especially with my bucks. Seems the shepherds staff had a number of handy uses. 🙂

  3. January 31, 2012 5:03 am

    On the dairy farm I grew up on, my uncle called the cows his “girls” and he knew each and everyone one of them. I had my favorites, but he knew them all.

    • January 31, 2012 5:42 am

      BasicallyBenita, it’s funny, they look and act so different when you get to know them. And cows are very smart despite what people say sometimes. I like their natural curiosity.

  4. January 31, 2012 5:27 am

    Good luck!

  5. Fid permalink
    January 31, 2012 5:55 am

    Really? Only once a month? Thanks for the update; she looks great! Fingers crossed.


    • January 31, 2012 6:43 am

      Fid, yeah, I thought I better keep it toned down, lots of people aren’t cow crazy like some people I know 😉 he he.

  6. jenj permalink
    January 31, 2012 5:55 am

    Jane is such a pretty girl! I remember her first pictures… and she’s all grown up now. I’m excited to see her first calf!

  7. PeterPansDad permalink
    January 31, 2012 6:49 am

    I’m glad you are posting about Jane. Looks like Mable settled on the first try and it’s nice to have you leading the way for me.

    Poor May. She was shocked to come live where her people wanted to touch her. She’s a little…um…standoffish. Need a crash course on building trust with your critters.

    • January 31, 2012 7:34 am

      PPD, exciting times ahead for you! May just may be one (that’s a mouthful)of those cows that doesn’t like to be touched. Or then again once she gets used to it, she may be in your pocket all the time. 🙂 Feed, and scratching the favorite places is the best way I know to gain their trust. A good ol’ brisket or tail head rub gets them every time.

  8. erin kelly permalink
    January 31, 2012 6:50 am

    One of my favorite posts!! I dream of the day when I can have my first dairy cow, but I’m trying out the less intense dairy GOAT option at the moment. But, my true love is cows, which my husband thinks is beyond odd. I raised beef cattle growing up in Texas, and had one calf, Chloe, that I raised by hand. Your post (especially the stick part) brought back memories of her bucking and playing anytime you went out in the pasture. I always told visitors when she was young that head butting is cute when they are tiny, NOT so cute when they get bigger! Thanks for the smile. 🙂

    • January 31, 2012 7:42 am

      Erin, yes definitely not cute when they get some size to them. You only have to see them play fighting with each other to see that the head is a weapon. Surprisingly despite the bottle raising, Jane is getting a good flight zone, not quite like dam raised but close. She gives me space when I walk between her and wall, and she moves away accordingly when I am on the other side.

      Jane’s childhood friend Lola, was following me yesterday after I dumped the minerals, and I could hear her bucking and twisting and snorting behind me, kind of like what kids do behind other kids backs. I squawked and she started to sedately follow me. Lola is a big girl now, but here is what she looked like when she was new:

      Hopefully, you can get a cow soon 🙂

      • January 31, 2012 8:34 am

        I used to have a horse that would make faces behind my back. I could see his shadow and I’d turn around and he’d straighten up like he didn’t do a thing… it was entertaining. Animals are not nearly as stupid and without personality and quirks as people like to believe.

        Jane’s mother was a pretty girl too. I just lost my favorite cow and it really does leave a big hole. Her daughter will be more special to me ever after because she reminds me so much of her mother.

        I’m waiting on my first calves any day now – a little early for my peace of mind, but …

        • February 1, 2012 7:39 am

          AMF, Sorry about your cow – it’s always tough.

          Good luck on your calving – always a relief when that part of the year is done!

  9. January 31, 2012 7:48 am

    You totally blew my mind! I always thought cows had udders, like we do, and they just got bigger when they were nursing or being milked. Do they completely disappear when they aren’t? Or are they there to stay?

    • January 31, 2012 8:01 am

      Leah, you’re right, but on a heifer (young cow) they don’t really show much until about half way through the pregnancy and then they do get quite large at freshening, and then the udder shrinks down somewhat when they are dry. Just like us. The first picture is of her mom at age 12 after 10 babies about 6 weeks before Jane was born. And depending on genetics some sag a lot over time, like us 😉

  10. January 31, 2012 8:13 am

    You made me cry! And I didn’t realize she would start to bag up 4 months ahead of giving birth. Thank you once again, and again and again, for your beautiful and so educational blog.

    • February 1, 2012 7:38 am

      Marilyn, on heifers it takes a while since they have to develop that tissue, after her first calf, it won’t be so noticeable.

      Don’t cry, it’s the way life goes.

  11. Chris permalink
    January 31, 2012 8:50 am

    “Walk tall and carry a Big Stick”…..whoever coined that must have had cows! 🙂 Now, I know why!!
    Jane’s a beauty and she does look so sweet…you are lucky to have had such a close relationship with a species that most people in the world think of as only food! Cows are people too! 🙂

    • Livia permalink
      January 31, 2012 11:16 am

      Maybe it’s true that some people are not cow crazy, but I am sure that there are quite a few of us readers that actually are! Jane is so sweet. I am sending many virtual hugs and kisses her way. And many thanks to you for posting pics of her.

      • February 1, 2012 7:36 am

        Livia, I wondered about that 😉 Jane is a sweetie, and it’s fun to share her with my readers 🙂

    • February 1, 2012 7:36 am

      Chris, exactly! Yes, they act like people, or we act like animals – I’m never sure which.

  12. January 31, 2012 11:22 am

    Here’s to a great pregnancy and a new little calf towards the end of May:) Thanks for sharing!

  13. January 31, 2012 12:30 pm

    A stick or rope installs confidence in me when I need to walk amongst my herd of horses. Sometimes they feel good and “forget” manners around humans. Sometimes they kick up a fuss at each other and forget manners around humans. A stick or a rope keeps me safe. 🙂

    • February 1, 2012 7:34 am

      Oregon Sunshine, I know the cows do the same, they just don’t know how big they are and how much it hurts when they bump into us. Calves up to 2 years old kick a lot, and man they are quick! My vest has worked good too, you can take it off and wave it around and it works the same as a stick. 🙂

  14. January 31, 2012 3:23 pm

    I’m looking forwarded to monthly photos! We had Bella inseminated in early Dec, so she is a bit behind Jane (and this is her 4 pregnancy that we know of, but her first with us), so it will be good to know what to expect. We carry lengths of poly pipe to control the steers, they can get a bit excited at dinner time, and have long horns! I find that if I raise the stick over my head they think I have even longer horns and leave me alone. Cattle are so much fun 🙂

    • February 1, 2012 7:32 am

      Liz, I may do more posts than that, but I thought it would be fun to show how much her udder will change by calving time.

      Keep an eye on Bella for any milk fever issues, 6 is about the age when that can start. Can’t wait to see her baby:)

  15. January 31, 2012 4:25 pm

    Yay, more Jane updates! I love watching her grow up!

  16. January 31, 2012 10:04 pm

    I still think she is a really pretty cow. Does she qualify as cow yet?

    • February 1, 2012 7:29 am

      Paula, no not yet, she a springer now, and will be a first calf heifer until her second calf.

  17. Hayden permalink
    February 1, 2012 7:40 am

    Just beautiful. She was a beautiful calf and now she’s a beautiful…. springer. Never heard that before, thanks for the new word!

  18. Hayden permalink
    February 1, 2012 7:41 am

    Springer. Is that a reference to her “first spring calf?”

    • February 1, 2012 2:01 pm

      Hayden, a springer is a cow or heifer that is close to calving – usually closer than Jane is right now, but it’s a fairly accurate description.

  19. February 1, 2012 8:20 pm

    That first picture is a nice “Welcome to my BLOG” shot! LOL

  20. jeannette permalink
    February 2, 2012 9:13 pm

    what a pretty girl, hope all goes well and she stays so lively and sweet.

  21. February 3, 2012 9:05 am

    I don’t have the slightest desire to have a milking animal, but love reading about it! You do a great blog.

  22. Janet permalink
    February 4, 2012 2:45 pm

    Yeah Jane! So happy to read about her. Will read all you want to write! It is always so interesting and informative and helfpul. Aww, Della…
    Jane is getting to be such a big girl!

  23. February 4, 2012 7:14 pm

    Your cows are beautiful! It will be sweet to see the progress as she gets closer to Memorial Day. I would love to read a post from you about butchering your meat chickens. I have enjoyed you posts on your own blog plus the others you have written for Simple Green Frugal Co-op. What company do you use to order your meat chickens?

    • February 4, 2012 9:06 pm

      Hi Kari, I can hardly wait until Memorial Day now, usually I don’t want to hurry time but I’m anxious to see Jane’s baby and the next chapter in her life.

      We order our meat chickens from Dunlap Hatchery in Idaho, and normally we get them the day after they are hatched.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

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