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August 6, 2014

Five minutes old – amazing.

Jane so far has blessed us with early evening births.  No middle the night stuff for her, yet.

bed time

bed time

The barnyard was busy last night, barn cat eye shine in the distance.  The milk cow freshening is a great thing for everyone.  People, calf, dogs, cats, chickens.  And wow, did I say humans?  That’s life people.  In the last fifteen hours, Jane has eaten her afterbirth, her calf’s first poop and she has swigged from the milk bucket full of colostrum.

First trip to the barn for Reese.

This morning – First trip to the barn for Reese.

If you’ve never handled a baby calf, they are wet, slippery and surprisingly weak and strong all at the same time.  A friend called last night to check on Jane just as she was calving, so she came on up the hill and we helped this guy find his legs and first meal under the stars.




I fell into bed last night, I had been so worried, it’s hard to describe.  The relief of seeing that calf on the ground washed over me like a flood.  You don’t know how stressed you are until you’re not.  It was obvious since afternoon that Jane was in labor.  Seeing rear feet finally presented didn’t help my worry at all.  As long as there is progression you’re okay, but if the calf gets stalled, you don’t have much time to waste, if the umbilical tears or is compressed the calf will start to breathe and take in amniotic fluid and die.  Deep breath, for me.  It was fast, but Reese was little rattly. My friend, (and Jane’s) a homeopath was quick on the draw, “Ant Tart” she says, for drowning.  Nothing like a good friend who knows her shit and a cow homeopathic kit.

Got milk?

Got milk?

The first week is the hardest, you watch for milk fever, or a million other things that can go wrong.  Observe, observe, observe and get to work.  No more leaving dirty dishes in the sink.  My dish load just quadrupled.


28 Comments leave one →
  1. August 6, 2014 9:16 am

    Yay :-D.

  2. August 6, 2014 9:18 am


  3. Fid permalink
    August 6, 2014 9:22 am

    Congratulations to you all! Your calf is as big it’s first day as mine are now… several months old. As always, thanks for sharing and for the great pics.

    • August 6, 2014 10:26 am

      Fid, he’s all legs like his momma. I remember how tiny Lucy was when she was a newborn, I couldn’t believe it!

  4. Eric Fritch permalink
    August 6, 2014 9:22 am

    I’ve been around cattle all my life and I’ve never heard of feeding colostrum back to the cow. can you shed any light on the practice? obviously this is not something they can do without some human intervention. I’m sure a Guernsey will produce far more than a new born can consume. perhaps it is simply antibody recycling! Eric @ Chinook Farms.

    • August 6, 2014 10:25 am

      Eric, me either, until Jane took it upon herself last year to get into the bucket. It can’t hurt, I have extra and I figure she needs the boost. I’ve never seen her take an interest in the milk though once it comes in.

      • Eric Fritch permalink
        August 6, 2014 10:47 am

        that’s why I like cows. they always seem to know what they need and what they don’t.

  5. August 6, 2014 9:23 am

    Congratulations!!! Good job Jane!!! He is a beauty. Now one set of worries ends and the next set begins. No rest for the herdswoman, yet.

  6. August 6, 2014 9:25 am

    I always thought colostrum is for baby calf ?! But what do I know – city girl.

    • August 6, 2014 10:23 am

      Sandra, a dairy cow will produce more colostrum and milk than a calf can use. Which leaves some for us. I freeze excess in case of emergency but there is still a lot for the first day or so.

  7. August 6, 2014 9:33 am

    He’s so beautiful! The dishes – yes, my Heavens, the *dishes*! It’s unending, but having the milk is such a blessing.

  8. Carolyn permalink
    August 6, 2014 9:33 am

    So beautiful!! Congratulations to both you and Jane!! Thank you for the Ant Tart tip. One never knows. Would you mind sharing what you keep in your homeopathic kit for cows? I use some homeopathic remedies for my cow, but more often use herbs when something comes up.

    • August 6, 2014 10:22 am

      Carolyn, I got my kit a longgggg time ago from here:

      It’s a lactating kit mostly, but we all use it, people, dogs, cows, chickens, turkeys etc. Some of the 40 I’ve never used, the most common are Arnica, Aconite, Apis, Hepar Sulph, Calc Phos, Mag Phos, Carbo Veg, Pulsatilla and Nux. I’ve used the Ant Tart before with white scours, but never had fluid in the lung issue.

  9. August 6, 2014 11:10 am

    Ant tart? And I can’t believe she wants the colostrum. That’s really interesting. Thanks for sharing the placenta snack too, lol. That always grosses me out a little – so rubbery, lol.

    He’s beautiful, like his Mom.

  10. Allisa Imming permalink
    August 6, 2014 12:46 pm

    Congratulations to you and Jane on your beautiful new baby!

  11. August 6, 2014 1:56 pm

    Congratulations! So sweet and so incredibly cute. I hadn’t ever thought of the cow drinking colostrum but it makes sense. She’s put all that energy into producing it, after all.

  12. Cassandra permalink
    August 7, 2014 5:21 am

    Congrats on a healthy Jane and a healthy baby! (I love that song, too.)

  13. Carrie permalink
    August 7, 2014 9:42 am

    Is that Reese as in Della by any chance?

    • August 7, 2014 10:37 am

      Carrie, no more like Reese in Person of Interest. But that’s funny because Della was Della Reese and I thought of Perry for this guy. Of course we had a girl name picked out which was probably a jinx in the heifer department. TV shows are a wealth of names because of the character mix.

  14. Elizabeth permalink
    August 7, 2014 7:59 pm

    I know you are incredibly busy with your farm with fall coming and now that the little guy has shown himself, but I’m really curious as to how you work with the calf from here on out. Could you post your activities (and the “why” behind them) as you and Jane rear this sweet baby (IE: how often does he nurse, how often do you let him nurse has he grows, handling him and your reasoning/ experiences behind you do what you do….) We are expecting our fist calf this next spring and I would like it to be bomb proof like Jane and her other babies but I’m not sure how to do that…..


    • August 7, 2014 9:18 pm

      E, groan, I’m totally changing my procedure this time and bottle feeding 😦 Jane is the first cow I have ever had that seems to have some aversion to the calf nursing once it gets to a few months old. I think she is feeling some pain from her bout with mastitis (scar tissue) that she had her first freshening. Either way, she is a trooper and puts up with it, but I’m going with the bottle feeding this time. I’m milking twice a day and feeding him 4 x a day right now, that will probably change to twice a day feedings once he’s stronger. So he will be handled a lot, but hopefully will retain his flight zone so he doesn’t run us down when he gets bigger.

      • Elizabeth permalink
        August 8, 2014 8:55 am

        Yikes! We’ve bottle fed babies with great success for them (fat, happy calves) and not such great success for us (RUN full blast at us when we come out into the field to move them, general peskiness which turns into a possibly dangerous situation when they get to be 300-400 pounds). So could you document your progress with Reese so I can learn to be a better cow momma? (Like how often and when and how do you tie the babies to learn to be tied patiently while you are milking without the cow or the calf throwing a fit.) I see you don’t put halters on the calves (or Jane, for that matter). Why? How will you retain his flight zone? Not too many folks here have milk cows anymore and I have a lot to learn.


        • August 8, 2014 9:45 am

          They get collars right away, and we start teaching them to lead and tie within the first week with a soft rope halter. Jane is a bottle baby and very well behaved. Halter trained from the get go. I put her halter on her every day to milk because I tie her instead of using a stanchion. I think the best way to get that flight zone you want is to hang the bottle and stand next to the calf facing the bottle, they can lean on you like you’re mama but the bottle is in front of them so it’s not quite as bad as having to hold it. As for the fit throwing that happens the first time you tie them, make sure mama is out of sight or earshot. After they figure it out, they learn to stand quietly. If you have the calf nurse after milking like I have always done until now, they will retain their flight zone pretty well.

  15. Elizabeth permalink
    August 8, 2014 11:01 am

    Then do they stay together for a little bit after milking then are separated until the next milking? If so how do you get them apart? Does Jane put up some resistance when separating? Or does she go quietly?
    Great information. Thanks!

    • August 8, 2014 11:12 am

      E, yes, after I milk I let the calf on to clean up, I’ve left some for the calf of course. Then I take the milk to the house and put that away and clean up my buckets etc. Then cow goes back to pasture or different barn for the night if it’s winter. No fuss on either end, but I start separating the second day, bringing the cow back at noon or so for the calf to get a drink and then by about the third day I want to be on my 12/12 schedule. Jane knows her calf is safe in his stall or tethered and she can go out and graze, the little bit of time together is for her to bathe him and for him to get some general cow loving and attention. Reese likes though too 😉

  16. August 20, 2014 9:13 pm

    beautiful, beautiful post. That bucket of colostrum….wow

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