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i heart cows

June 17, 2014

Since I don’t have an iphone I can’t update you on the minute to minute happenings of a farm.  It seems if I don’t take my camera for whatever reason, usually rain, I miss a priceless shot or two, like yesterday when a new calf was born.  I could have shown you a half hour old baby calf, or her mom eating the placenta, or her first wobbly legged paddock shift with me helping her to move up the hill to fresh grass…but I’m telling you instead.  I prefer long hand blogging and sometimes wonder about the soundbite nature of farm marketing these days.  Many times my camera is too much of a distraction, cell phone, no thanks, I like my peace and quiet.  I need to look at the grass, cow manure and I need to look at the cows.  I did take the camera today even though it raining, not knowing what I would find or see when I finally got to the pasture.  Here is the photo essay of this morning’s paddock shift with a few comments.

Sigh of relief, the cows are where they should be, and they look calm.  That’s good because there is a new calf.  If they were stirred up I would know at a glance something was amiss.



On my way through their paddock, I look at the manure to help assess if the grass is too rich, or not rich enough.  It looks just right.

happy lines, and rumen check.

happy lines, and rumen check.

I also glance around at the rumens, this steer looks just right also.  If he was sunk in at the denoted triangle area I would know to adjust my paddock size and allot more grass.

Mostly nonchalant

Mostly nonchalant

As I’m walking about checking manure and rumens I’m looking for the new calf.  Cows bed their calves down like deer do, so it’s pretty rare the first days of a calf’s life to see them in with the herd, they are always nearby in the tall, clean grass.  All I have to do is watch the mama cow (red arrow), she is staring at her calf’s location, the others are biding their time and watching me to make sure I get to fence building.  I’ve gotten rid of my cagey cows, who would be inclined to stare off in the wrong direction to throw you off, so I know this mama is looking directly at her calf.  This cow is half Guernsey and was raised like Jane until it was time to join the beef herd.  She is bomb proof, halter and milk broke, and trusting of me.

To simplify my life, I intend to get the calf back to mama so it can nurse before the paddock shift and then it can go to a new place to nap.  I keep my fence high so the calves can come and go freely.  It’s cleaner for them and easier than spending lots of time building extra fence that they will go through anyway.  They actually go through our barb wire fences too, so unless you have field fence, you may as well save yourself the trouble and just move them ahead at paddock shift time.


As you can see they all know where the new baby is.  Mama and two of her other children plus one are watching me approach that calf.


I wake up the calf, mama calls, and it heads towards her as the herd circles the wagons.


While mama and baby are bonding, the rest of the cows turn their attention to me as if to say, “are you ever going to build that fence?”

The cows move through quickly to fresh grass.

Then mama and baby make their way down the hill.  “I don’t got no milk…”

The last order of business is to move the water.  Since it’s raining I will just move the gate, you can see what 20 head of cattle drank yesterday, not much.

Gate moved so the troughs are in the new paddock.

Then I can take a minute to watch the newest little one.

Can you believe that all took place in thirty minutes time?

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Eumaeus permalink
    June 17, 2014 12:27 pm

    you make it look easy…

  2. Pippa permalink
    June 17, 2014 2:07 pm

    Thank you for the wonderful words and pics.

  3. June 17, 2014 2:08 pm

    I tend to take my phone on my rounds for the simple fact that I can jam it in a pocket and not lose it – I can get those quick one time only shots. I’ve tried taking the camera with – but I’m forever trying to find a place to put it down where it’s handy and the horses can’t reach it. No luck there…… The camera makes for better pictures though.

  4. Pippa permalink
    June 17, 2014 2:15 pm

    Also beautiful healthy looking cows. Loved the videos too.

  5. June 17, 2014 2:17 pm

    I come here every day and love your animals. Living in the suburbs means the only cows I’ve seen are in the local zoo. Thank you so much for posting about your life and the videos are wonderful.

  6. Chris permalink
    June 17, 2014 2:49 pm

    They have cows in a zoo? 🙂 What beautiful, healthy cows and grass you have. You are definitely an expert in your field…literally! 🙂 More videos!!

  7. CassieOz permalink
    June 17, 2014 4:02 pm

    Love it! Stunning sleek beasts, cutest babies, healthy grass. No babies due here until beefers in September and milkers in December so I’ll just have to get my does of cuteness from you. Thanks as always.

  8. June 17, 2014 4:49 pm

    Very enjoyable!

  9. June 17, 2014 5:39 pm

    This was a joy to see…..

  10. June 18, 2014 2:43 am

    Love those white calf eyelashes!

    Same here about the camera. I want to have the experience, not be distracted by staging it for future posts. That sometimes makes me ponder presence and the conflict between blogging and living.

    I love seeing the relationships and teamwork the cows display – definitely more there than most people want to consider.

    • June 18, 2014 4:40 am

      Jackie, I agree, besides the fact that most times farmers with cell phones are kind of distracted by their phones…cell reception is so spotty here it’s hardly worth the money.

      The cows are like watch dogs, you can tell by watching them what is going on in the woods, etc. And by watching them I learn something each time.

      • June 18, 2014 6:46 am

        I get that about electronics being a huge distraction. I’ve faught them all the way, and am still electronically challanged. I love the information in your blog and the easy readable way you present it. When available the pictures add greatly to the text. Oh and by the way, I still have a “flip-phone”

  11. June 18, 2014 6:47 am

    Nice post. The cows know what to do. No big whoop. Just get out of the way and enjoy the move. I carry a phone but rain and sweat are real problems for it.

    I think some folks don’t understand that because they haven’t bothered to cull out the wild cows. There are a few cows down the road that would eat you for lunch if you got close to their calf. Those mamas don’t belong in my system. No way.

    I liked the detail you added in about the family group. A random grouping of cows into a herd has a different feel…a different dynamic than generations of cows in a herd.

  12. June 18, 2014 8:28 am

    I just got a text from Julie. “I can’t find the new calf.”


  13. June 18, 2014 11:15 am

    Thanks for the neat videos! Wow, that calf is really curious. When you have to go get newborns before paddock shift, do they ever freak out and bolt off willy-nilly or do they tend to run straight to mama?
    I know absolutely nothing about cows except for what I’ve learned from reading your blog. You have taught me quite a lot. I was trying to help my mom find a source for grass finished beef and milk. She found a farm near her town and I was checking out their website…Their prices were nearly double what I pay for grass milk where I am, but when I saw pictures of their dairy cows, I saw sunken rumens on their left sides, very prominent short ribs (and many other bones), and many had half their tails missing! It was pretty alarming; I don’t think I’d buy their milk.

    • June 18, 2014 11:24 am

      No they bolt, you need to be on the side opposite from mama, so they run from you and towards mama when she calls. It’s all instinct at that stage, five minutes later she was nuzzling my coat.

      Good eye, finding a good milk source is hard.

  14. June 20, 2014 3:28 am

    Gotta love them cows! I love seeing how sleek and shiny my old lady is this year. Think despite being so old she actually grew a bit taller this past winter.

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