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A Comedy of Errors and Whole Lot of BS

November 18, 2013
Joey and friends

Joey and friends

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!”

Weak smile.

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.

50 Comments leave one →
  1. Carole permalink
    November 19, 2013 12:00 am

    AArrghh, I wish we had an ‘AI guy’ we could call on but there isn’t enough work for one around here. A couple of the beefer places do their own but I generally have to ‘borrow’ a bull from a friend (at a time he doesn’t need him) because my beefer boy is toooooo big for the two Jersey ladies. So I have one lady due in a coupla weeks and one open and 12 months into this lactation. Maybe I need to learn how to do the AI myself….

    • November 19, 2013 9:01 am

      Carole, you can take the class, it would be expensive at first, the class expense, tank etc., but at least you could breed to who you want, and when. It gets expensive too on the other end to keep the cows open, and it takes so long to correct.

  2. A.A. permalink
    November 19, 2013 1:44 am

    Sorry to hear about all that, so frustrating! Stupid guys!

  3. November 19, 2013 2:38 am

    Sounds like the shenanigans around here up until last year. In a way, we’re glad to not have to deal with it any more. But it means no more calves, and no cows year round. Always the good and the bad….

    • November 19, 2013 8:58 am

      Pam, yeah I have toyed with idea of stockers, less hay, some time off and no breeding stuff. Or more cows, and selling the calves like we used to do. Then we would keep a bull. Those big steers for butchering are a PITA.

  4. November 19, 2013 2:50 am

    Oh tell me about this! Not breeding cows but being a woman in a man’s world. I spent more than 15 years being a senior manager in ‘all male’ offset-litho printing enterprises. Did my blood boil from time to time? Oh yes! And that was after I made a point of learning the technicalities and the physicality of offset-litho press operation – and proficiently so, too.
    When I moved into multimedia publishing I like to think I left a few ‘wiser’ printers, printers’ engineers, printing press manufacturers, paper and sundries suppliers about but…? And as you indicate, sometimes it was clear that it would be quicker and more certain to play the “but the foreman told me to ask for…” However, it should not be necessary in this day and age, so it still makes me fume and rant!
    Finger’s crossed that Jane is in calf to the ‘special’ bull.

    • November 19, 2013 8:56 am

      Carrie, you would not believe how many people have come here for farm tours and won’t even address me or ask me questions. My hubby is pretty good at either answering or deferring the questions to me. As I do him when it comes to the stuff I’m not well versed in.

      Fingers crossed here for special calf from Jane too – and that it is a girl.

      • November 19, 2013 11:26 am

        Yes, universe listen! – a heifer please (re-crosses fingers) 🙂

        If Joey the Gelbvieh’s work produces a couple of decent looking heifers is it cost-effective to skip a breeding season with those youngsters so as to get back to the preferred timing plus have the advantage of new genes into the ‘beef’ pool?

        • November 19, 2013 12:14 pm

          Carrie, I’m not getting what you’re asking? I should be able to correct this somewhat next year, hopefully. Joey is an old goat like his owner, and I doubt he will be available and to tell the truth, he is just a pinch hitter, as a general rule I don’t care for the Gelbvieh temperament long term. Skipping a season is too cost prohibitive with beef cows, they have to have a calf every year to insure their existence. A dairy cow is a little different, some folks like to have long lactations and less calves, but I think Jane will be back on track next year – fingers really crossed – or at least where she started. It takes a long time to make a change, if you think if Jane has a heifer next year it would be almost three years from now (2016) before I could milk that calf. Eek! And I’m not getting any younger 🙂

        • November 19, 2013 12:57 pm

          OK, you have answered the question anyway. I was trying to say as several beef cows were not covered by Samson they too will calve late. With any heifers that result from the Billy/beef cow union, is it cost effective to skip breeding those heifers one season in order to get back to better timing (“no”) because it will also introduce new genes into the beef stock pool (from the Gelbvieh bull) (“no”). Sorry for the confusion! I imagine we have Gelbvieh in the UK but I had to follow your link and look them up – new name to me.

  5. Catherine permalink
    November 19, 2013 3:53 am

    I never knew so much went into having cows. Thanks for the enlightenment.

    • November 19, 2013 8:52 am

      Catherine, most of the time having cattle is pretty straightforward – this year is an anomaly.

  6. November 19, 2013 4:43 am

    Oh mercy, I laugh/cry with you. Thank you for this story. I can totally relate. Besides all the animal stuff that’s sure to have problems, I too have to give my head a ditzy little fling and tell some of the local men that “my husband said so” so they’ll listen. Depending on my mood and level of exasperation, they may get attempted reason, the ditz, or me, the gal who can spit fire.

    We just had a surprise calf at a rather chilly time. His mama, bred when we bought her, miscarried last January. She was with the bull for three weeks before we had to put him down. Apparently, both parents were very efficient in their duties and a little grey calf came into this world under sleet and high winds. Not fun. Mommy just bought herself another year of life though. We decided to name him, “Addendum”. Fitting, we think.

    • November 19, 2013 8:52 am

      COF, great name, winter calving is for the birds, cattle are tough, but gosh that is just hard all around 😦

  7. November 19, 2013 6:51 am

    A friend of mine in Australia breeds her cow with pre-sexed semen, to ensure she gets a girl. I don’t do cattle so I don’t know if that is available here in the US. I know she has to order it in, and you know how that goes, as you have to get the timing just right. Her husband took a class to learn how to AI, so when the cow goes into heat, they call to get the semen shipped overnight and her husband does it when it arrives. Apparently there is a 99% guarantee of a girl, and so far, it has worked well for them. That might be something worth you looking into for the future.

    • November 19, 2013 6:55 am

      Thanks for that, I have heard that the sexed semen works best on heifers 😦 Unfortunately Jane isn’t a heifer anymore! It is available here in the US but not with every bull, and it’s a good idea if you want a better chance at getting a heifer. The semen I used is from bull that is long gone, and I wanted to get some of his traits in a future cow.

  8. Wendy permalink
    November 19, 2013 7:20 am

    Both my Jerseys came screaming back into heat after I thought they were 3 and 4 months bred. Now I’m looking at late summer calves…dammit…when it’s blistering hot and the flies are wicked. That is *if* they took (live bull, not impressive to look at…just want them bred). Considering pulling the bull out no matter in 60 days what because my one foray at winter calving was a wrath of milk fever and nutritional issues. Nothing beats spring grass and naturally rising nutrition for a healthy delivery.

    yes, “settled” is right. After living with Jerseys for 4 years now I know why the commerical dairies breed them at 6 months of age. It’s not because they are greedy to milk them, it’s because living with them in heat is like having a herd of squalling in-season felines that weigh several hundred pounds. Never seen anything like it…and I’ve had beef cows for 40 years.


    • November 19, 2013 8:50 am

      Wendy, at least with my beef cows, I don’t have to handle them, milking a cow in heat is not fun. Jane is actually pretty calm, but considering she isn’t a ball of fire anyway, very slow moving and considerate, the change is like Jekyll and Hyde. Fingers crossed for your girls, I’m hoping nothing happens here between now and next summer and she stays in calf.

  9. Kristin permalink
    November 19, 2013 7:39 am

    I had a similar issue with my sheep. Borrowed a ram from a friend and he did nothing! Fortunately, we figured it out quick and were able find and purchase a quality ram within 2 days. Can’t do that with a cow! Like you, I want all my sheep bred in that first 3 week window. The A.I. guy I use for my milk cow is the best. Alas, he really wants to retire but, fortunately, keeps going for me and the handful of others around that need him.

    • November 19, 2013 8:45 am

      Kristin, I really have had good luck until now, so we’ll just have to deal with it. And I really love not keeping a bull all year. It’s just a sign of the times too, there are no cattle around here to speak of anymore, so no neighbors to trade bulls with after 3 years or even to borrow a bull from. The AI guy we use works at big dairies, and his brother still dairies, so I like that he has lots of practice. We were laughing about the uptick in family cows again – just like before Y2K, not too many kept those cows, but there is a whole new crop out there now so his side business is fairly good. I don’t want him to retire 😦

  10. November 19, 2013 7:58 am

    Well, to be fair to the parts guy, there aren’t a lot of International 345s left out there. Most of the scouts rusted to nothing and the pickups are few and far between. At least in this part of the world.

    Ugh. late breeding this year means several seasons of trying to get back to June calving. Or a skipped year. Ugh.

    • November 19, 2013 8:40 am

      Well, it’s like anywhere else too, I was at Home Depot the other day to get some star head deck screws, which I couldn’t find, and the worker (50 something) standing there jacking his jaws to a friend about management at their old job totally ignoring the ever enlarging line of customers with questions…when he finally came up for air, he couldn’t help me and he wandered off. I did find someone else to help me, and she could tell me straight out that they didn’t carry them. So I went to Lowe’s, they had them. It’s not so much that folks have to know everything because you can’t, it’s the idea of service and being helpful. God help you if you get a checker who gets a phone call or text during checkout – you just have to wait until they get done. I think it stands to reason if I can read the parts catalog upside down and go by year, make and model and engine number the guys that work there can certainly read it in the proper position. I’m switching back to a 345 this winter, you can lug the hell out them, and the 392 kinda pales in comparison unless your pulling a load 😦 We scrapped our rusted out Scout after taking off all the chrome and extras, and it was kinda sad, but about a month later we saw it by the feedstore, apparently someone rescued it and it lives again.

      I can hardly wait (sarcasm here)trying to sort this out next year. I may be getting rid of those late cows. Jane I will have to deal with, Guernseys don’t grow on trees. She is due the end of July, I will jump on the first heat next year. Pisses me off to think if I had been on my toes I could have moved her back 6 weeks this year, and now I moved the other way 6 weeks. It felt good to get her bred and finally post about it, I have been stressing about this since the end of August. Cathartic.

      • November 19, 2013 9:25 am

        I can’t find help in our Home Depot, just vendors stocking the shelves. Across the street at Lowe’s the employees get ticked when you interrupt them from doing inventory.

        Just because you can rebuild a scout of J.C. Whitney doesn’t mean you should. On second thought, that might be fun. Hmmmm…

        • November 19, 2013 9:47 am

          HFS, back in the day when there wasn’t Home Depot or Lowe’s here yet, we had Home Base the first of the big chain hardwares to start running out the little guys. I went there once to buy another 5 gallon bucket of linseed oil and when I couldn’t find it, the shelf only had quarts…I mistakenly asked an employee if they still carried the 5 gallon size. His reply: “Well, do you see it on the shelf?” They are out of business and so are all the little guys mostly – now there is no choice. At least if I buy at Lowe’s it helps the revenue in the city where my hubby works. They are more helpful there but a little out of my way 😦

          I coulda swore the Scout was looking at me when we passed on the street, sure looked funny without it’s grill and luggage rack 😉 You have to be a mechanic to own an International, but they go a long time. Red Power and all that!

  11. November 19, 2013 9:25 am

    You didn’t give up and that’s what matters. Congrats!!

  12. November 19, 2013 10:33 am

    I feel for you and not looking forward to next year when we start breeding our alpacas. I wonder how we will know when they are pregnant etc.

    I found that playing the ignorance card helps when neither my hubby or I really know. It is easier for a woman to get away with not knowing than for a guy sometimes 🙂 I agree though, I would find it annoying if I really did know.

  13. Bee permalink
    November 19, 2013 11:03 am

    Boy, howdy, Nita, I know what you mean! Nobody in our town has a milk cow but us, and the nearest dairy is 70 miles away; he does his own AI but won’t do it for anybody else. We like to use the same bull for both the house cow and the beef cows and try to keep everybody on a schedule with a breeding in August for early May calves — grass is well along but it’s not fly season yet. AI is pretty much nonexistent, although I may have finally found a possible contact through a guy I was talking to at a “4H at the mall” day. The contact is a hundred miles south of us, however. I’d really like to breed another Jersey out of Maybelle, and learning how to do it ourselves might be my only option. Our bull guy, like yours, is elderly — late 70s. He delivered and picked up the bull this year (we usually do it). Got lost on the pickup trip, only six weeks later. Not only did he get lost on the way up here, but he got lost on the ranch (there’s only one road that goes right past the house) and went clear down past the milking shed where he’d just dropped the bull off six weeks prior. Turned around at least twice and tried other, obviously less maintained roads, got stuck, broke out his pickup back window trying to turn around. Meanwhile, we’re at the milking shed wondering where the heck he’d gotten to. The bull, at least, did his job. But I’ve got a Dexter-Jersey cross that we were sure was bred last year and came up empty but didn’t show heat. She so obviously looked pregnant that I didn’t preg-test, but it must have been fat. This year is her last chance. She either produces a calf or goes in the freezer.
    I’m pretty sure we’re going to have lambs spread over two or three months this year because we’ve got a couple of older ewes that didn’t take the first time around. But the stallion did his job and got things settled on the first go-round. We’ll be having babies from various critters most of May, looks like, especially since I still have to put the sow in with boar for our pig crop, and May is a good month for baby pigs.
    On the parts issue, I don’t think it’s just women. My husband comes back swearing almost every time he goes in. The real problem seems to be the lack of knowledge and poor customer service on the part of the sales people. Hubby is so frustrated that the first question he asks when he calls for pickup parts is whether the one person he can trust is there. If the answer is no, he waits until another day to order his part. I’ve seen him sit on hold for the better part of an hour just so he can talk to his expert.

    • November 19, 2013 12:23 pm

      Bee, reading your comment reminded me when Bull Guy came to pick up the lame bull he drove through the fence! I put pink surveyors tape in strategic spots so he could see it, I even left them long so he could see the fluttering in case he was color blind. Just one more thing, I guess. I asked the vet about him this fall, and he said you know he’s slipping, so he sees it too when he’s there at his farm. I just hope he doesn’t get hurt with one of his bulls, they are gentle, but they are bulls.

      I heartily agree on the parts issue, we do the same. The worst is when they tell you if it’s wrong just bring it back! Bringing it back is not that easy when you don’t live in town.

      It sounds like you have lots of babies coming next spring – have you ever used Biotracking? It is supposed to be cheaper than the milk test for pregnancy, but I have never used it.

      • Bee permalink
        November 19, 2013 1:23 pm

        I haven’t. Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out.

  14. Eumaeus permalink
    November 19, 2013 11:09 am

    Congrats on Jane prego. Love the stuff about sexism. And the pimp. My truck is very small, very old and foreign. My wife still likes it.

    • November 19, 2013 12:06 pm

      E. thanks – gotta keep that milk coming. My husband drives a small truck and I still like him and the truck 😉

  15. barefootfarmflower permalink
    November 19, 2013 1:44 pm

    What a crazy experience. My gut wrenched for you- totally understand missing those windows of opportunity and each new window looking less and less favorable.

    After deciding AI wasn’t going to work for us in our situation, I’ve taken to buying a younger bull, knowing that I’m only using him long enough to cover everyone and then turning him into hamburger. We stock our freezer, sell the excess and wait til next time. This has worked great using Jersey bulls on our Jersey cows. Until I started keeping a Brown Swiss. Now we have a Hereford bull. He is absolutely the best. It will be a sad day when he needs to go to the freezer. I hope we can keep him for a long time.

    I can’t wait to see Jane’s calf 🙂

    • November 19, 2013 3:44 pm

      BFFF, I am so glad it’s over now. AI is a pain, and I rarely need it since I don’t want to sell heifers, I like my beef crosses for eating too. Herefords are the best, nice and quiet compared to some.

      I can’t wait to see that calf either – about the only way to get a Guernsey is to breed them yourself.

  16. Ben permalink
    November 19, 2013 2:16 pm

    Sounds like a great idea for reality TV….

  17. November 19, 2013 8:18 pm

    And a healthy dose of women navigating the hardware store without the assistance of sexist help.

    I once asked the kid at HD where they kept the offset ratcheting screw drivers (because I could not for the life of me find one) and he actually had the gall to tell me that they don’t exist and to go see the folks in Electrical for an offset screwdriver. I get back to hardware and can’t find the kid, but guess what? Ratcheting offset screwdrivers were hanging right behind where he had been standing!

  18. michelle permalink
    November 20, 2013 8:19 am

    Good lord have mercy is all I can say. Who knew this is what you have to go through to get a cow pregnant?!

    • November 20, 2013 9:10 am

      Michelle, usually it isn’t such a vortex of problems, this year geez the stars were not aligned at all 😦 Everybody is PG now though, I think and if they’re not, time will tell.

  19. November 20, 2013 9:24 am

    I meant to comment yesterday: I’m an engineer and I know that feeling of nobody even taking one seriously. Argh. I go buy my cars by myself, which seems to really unsettle the car salesmen, so I can’t even imagine buying a truck, LOL. I almost want to go test drive one, just to see what happens (of course it’s been years and years that I’ve driven a tractor or truck, so maybe I need to practice first). It’s a men’s world. And I have 3 daughters and don’t know what to say to them.

    • November 20, 2013 9:46 am

      Kath, I’m not really into girl power, unless of course you’re doing the work, and not getting the credit. Growing up on a farm you just do the work and that’s the way it has always been. I have two sisters, one is more outdoorsy and one is more stay in the house type, I have no idea what type I am, we all pretty much had to do outside stuff. This ad from Chevy is pretty good, even though they say most women make the decision on what vehicle to buy anyway. I wouldn’t worry about test driving a new truck, you would be hard put to find one with a manual transmission, automatics are now the norm. Drives me crazy.

      Our good truck (read road worthy etc) is our car. We don’t have to have a car besides, so while the size (horrors, it’s a crew cab) puts off my towny liberal friends, we need it and we don’t have a car besides the obligatory farm truck.

      My husband is pretty sexist and his biggest challenge was having a daughter – boy howdy has he changed his tune, seeing that now his offspring is confronted by stereotypes. Your daughters will do fine, it is getting a little easier.

      • November 20, 2013 5:13 pm

        LOL, thanks for the reply. When our first turned out to be a girl my husband was silent. Then he said “Do you think she’ll want to learn woodworking?”.

  20. Elizabeth permalink
    November 20, 2013 9:59 am

    Posts like this remind me (in spades) how much of a green horn I am when it comes to cows. In your spare time (HA!) could you sometime (maybe this winter?) devote a post (or several) to raising a bottle calf? From how long to bottle feed, how much milk or replacer at each age (respectfully), hay bellies and why this condition is not good for the calves, how to instill manners in a calf, what age to castrate and dehorn, heat cycles, breeding dates, winter feeding…….
    I know this will be a monster post and might open you up to “well meaning” comments since many of your practices are geared for the health of the animal and not necessary for the convenience of the farmer. But I am longing for one place I can go that has proven sound practices on raising calves. The ‘net is FULL of information that I’m not at all sure are “good for the animal” practices. I am looking to purchase a milk cow in the next couple of years and I really want to be as prepared as possible. I know this is a huge request, but based on the comments of your readers after posts like this one, I’m guessing it would be very much sought after and appreciated information.

  21. wondering permalink
    November 21, 2013 11:49 am

    Oh gosh, my sisters raise pureblood Charolais, and they get a lot of bias at the bull sales because they are raised to be gentle enough that a child (little girl, lol) can lead them around the ring at a auction or a show. Lots of men won’t buy them because they think that if they’re gentle, they won’t breed. Which is not true, they’ve just been taught manners.

    Fortunately, there are some farms that come to them specifically for bulls because they like having animals that are easy to manage, so I guess they have made a bit of a niche for themselves in northeastern BC/northwestern Alberta.

    Anyway, I immediately thought of them went you mentioned the gentle bull in your post!

  22. November 22, 2013 10:03 am

    This is such a good post! I’ve never been through breeding season with cows–always goats, and they never seem to have much trouble getting pregnant. But goats are exasperating for different reasons, mainly how crazed (and incredibly smelly) the bucks get. We had a buck die one year because he was so horny he just stopped eating and drinking and collapsed. Then there’s the comedy of breeding, say, a Nigerian dwarf to a big ol’ Saanen. Stepstool anyone?

    • November 22, 2013 4:58 pm

      Meg, too funny, sounds like some guys I went to high school with 😉 As a general rule cows are pretty easy to get bred, this year just didn’t seem to want to fall into place though 😦 I feel sorry for that poor old bull, a farm bull has a pretty easy year, those rental bulls work year round and it’s kinda tough on them.

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