For the last week, our cow Brandy has been with her new calf. We named him “Trouble,” because he runs all over the place, getting out of the fence and driving his mom to distraction.
When Rachel tried to milk in the milking shed with the calf nearby, the calf would run around and make Brandy get frantic and try to pull her head out of the head gate.
So last night I stole him from her.
At about 9PM, I took a few of the boys with flashlights and went into the field. I worked Trouble and Brandy back towards a gate, then took Trouble by the leg and pulled him through, and one of the boys shut the gate before Brandy could pursue. Then I ran across the field with the calf in my arms, hoping that Brandy wouldn’t try to break through the fence.
We made it, and I put the calf in the house for a moment so we could catch our breath.
He then ran around the corner into my daughter’s room and jumped on the bed.
At times like these, I wonder how my life ended up this way.
What series of events led to this point in time?
How did we get here?
Anyhow, we put Trouble in his own enclosure in the backyard, figuring we’d get up early and check on him and his mom in the morning.
This morning, Rachel woke me up at 6:38AM with a cup of coffee.
I grabbed some range cubes and a bucket of feed and she grabbed the milking supplies. We headed over to see Brandy and Sweetie-Pie.
Brandy didn’t seem to associate me with the calfnapping of the previous night, and I led her onwards through the gate to the milking shed and she put her head right through the headgate and munched contentedly on dairy feed while Rachel milked her.
The previous time she had tried was a disaster, as Brandy almost broke down the milking shed looking around for her skittish little calf, who was running past the shed. She also kicked Rachel in the leg, giving her a heckuva bruise.
This time, however, calf-free, she let Rachel milk her all the way out without complaint. We then let Brandy go and put Sweetie-Pie in the milking shed for a bit with some grain and petted her all over. She’s due to deliver in a couple of weeks, so it’s good to get her accustomed to the idea of being in the stanchion.
Rachel got a total of almost a gallon and a half from Brandy. The half-gallon we saved for the calf, and this milk is for us:
After milking Brandy, we brought water and a bottle of fresh milk to Trouble. We had to corner him and pry his mouth open to get the bottle nipple in, but he started sucking on it after a bit once he realized what was inside.
I think this is going to work. Rachel is determined. We’ll milk again this evening and see how it goes. I think the cows will get used to the system.
As much as I hated to take the calf from his mom, I think this is for the best. He nursed for a week – that’s enough. It’s time to make the cows work for us. He was an agent of chaos.
His mother is calling for him still. It’s sad, but it’s life.
Raw milk is one of the best foods we could possibly add to our diet. And cows make it out of grass! What a system.