Crossed Every Which Way

Josie came into heat again Thursday morning.  It’s day 18 which isn’t unusual, but I wasn’t expecting it until Monday.  My driver who was to take her over to meet her bull fell through or else she’d of been there sometime on Thursday.  But I was able to call the AI Tech who works this area and he came by Thursday late afternoon.    Hopefully if she cycles like she did the last couple times, she will settle down and we caught her in time.  The bull semen lives for 24 hrs so as you can imagine it’s better to be earlier then later.   I’ll know in another 3 weeks if it took.  As of Friday morning, she was still BAWLING.  I think the neighbors who missed the last blessing of heat, must of thought she had mad cows disease.  She never got feisty with me, but I also never turned my back on her or bent over with my butt in the air.  They will mount anything and anyone.  Not me!  Friday afternoon she settled down.  Now we wait.  I hope that the AI wasn’t too early, but if it was we will have to try again.  All good things in God’s time.  Heavens knows we’ve been waiting long enough for this.

Her sire is WF Duncan ET.  I’m not sure what all that means, but he is suppose to throw some good calves.  So, now it’s time to cross our fingers and toes and knees and just about anything you can cross and pray that Josie will be pregnant and give us a healthy calf in 9 months.  Mark your calendars and set your watches!

My AI Tech is Allan Pickett.  He’s been doing this work since he was in high school.  He went to our local h.s. and knew this area when we had dairy farms all around.  He doesn’t get many calls to come to this area anymore, but was more than happy to accommodate me.  I was thrilled that he was very responsive and came when called.  It was a very good bargain….$28.  That doesn’t even pay for his gas.  I felt like I should of given him a tip.  I mean, he did have to reach into places that most people don’t.  He was very nice.  Did I say that?  Well, he was.  Anyone that is gentle with my Josie is a friend of mine.

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DSCN5224My day was spent watching Josie.  It’s a fact that a cow in heat that is watched up to 6 times during the day has a better chance of settling then one that you only observe a couple times.  Plus she was really being obnoxiously loud and the only thing that quieted her was my presence.  So I drug a chair out close to the pasture, propped my feet up and read my Organic Gardening Magazine…which by the way had a very nice article on winter squash.  So I sat and listened to the feathered ladies behind me chit chat and occasionally Josie would check to see if I was still there.  She was the quietest she’d been all day.

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My son, the Tender Hearted Warrior, was crawling on his belly stalking the deer with his bow and arrows.  He shot at one, but the arrow was too heavy and feel at her feet.  Better success next time.  He’s quite the marksmen.  When he was just a little tike at Stockade Camp, he won all the marksmen awards!  (you know just a paper plate with ribbons hanging from it…but it meant everything to a 6 yr old!)  He hasn’t lost his eye and he’s taking right after his dad.  Honey shot his bow the other night that he hasn’t touched…..well, probably since we were married almost 30 yrs ago….and BINGO he hit the target dead center!!  What a guy!

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Can you see him right above Joy’s back.

If you’d like to skip over to my new home you can find me there now.  I’m still unpacking the boxes and rearranging the furniture, but for the most part I’ve moved in.

Remember, we’re still Peaceful Acres we just are using a different address!

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Josie is Heating Up

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Last Monday morning, oh, about 1:30am…..Josie started MOOOOOOOing and woke Honey up. I finally heard her at 3:30am and every half hour thereafter. She bellowed alllllllllllllllllllllllll day long. She was a girl looking for her bull. I was very very glad that our nearest neighbors were on vacation. And I’m guessing they are too! As soon as I heard her I said to myself….she’s in heat. Well, Honey didn’t know what to think so he’s outside walking all around the pasture like a good guard dog would do. He didn’t find anything and tried to go back to sleep.

It all started last Sunday, when Josie gave Joy a 20-30 minute bath. She fit the bill from what I read. Licking, curling lip, bellowing, mounting Joy.

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Hold still while I get your neck.

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Boy your ears are dirty.

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You’ve really gotta do a better job washing.

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Time for a few head butts!

Last Monday Josie bawled until early/late afternoon and then she stopped. Then Tuesday morning, she had a bloody show. My window of fertility is very small and it seems to me that will be late Monday afternoon on the 26th. I’ve got my calendar marked 21 days ahead, so like clock work she ought to come into heat again at the end of the month. It’s a good sign that she’s having strong heats after her stillbirth.

Honey and I have decide along with my new cow mentor and vet that she ought to be bred now. That will give us a July calf and that will be good for Josie and the calf. There will be an abundance of green grass for the needed nutrients that Josie will need in the last two months or pregnancy. She will have a better start on this next pregnancy and we pray that it goes well for her.

I’ve been working hard to build her condition after the dead calf. She’s now on our pasture being supplemented with organic orchard grass hay, organic apples, organic carrots, sunflower seeds with molasses and organic mangels for treats. I give her probiotics, Selenium w/ Vit E, occasional herbs, Kelp, Cow Minerals and Vit C.

I JUST found a bull to be our sire….all for $25.00!! Wahoo! He’s 1/2 Jersey & 1/2 Limousine. He’s been throwing heifers, but if I get a bull, he’ll be a good beefy bull. And I JUST talked to my beef man and he’s agreed to transport Josie over to the mountains for her rondevu!

She’s not the only one heating up! I never thought I’d be giddy over such a thing!

All things work together. Amen.

(Joy has got to go!  She is nothing but trouble and I’m guessing she’s going to the Arctic Box!  If anyone wants her, come and get her!!!)

Wordless Wednesday

YEAH RIGHT!!!!!

Did you really fall for that?

Come on….then you don’t know me.

I’ve never been wordless. Ask my father, who use to pay me 25 cents for 15 min’s of silence! Really. I don’t ever remember getting the money. Ok, maybe once!

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I think Josie’s body condition looks good two weeks after we pulled a dead calf. Since giving Josie and Joy additional supplements to the little grain they get daily, their coats are velvety soft.

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Here she is catching a few winks and dreaming of more grain. (Please excuse her dirty backside.)

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Joy is wearing a new spiked nose ring. I put the bovine girls together on Sunday, hoping that we will be able to see a standing heat in Joy. But, I didn’t want to take any chances of her trying to suck Josie again. She looks pretty cute! And she manages quite well at swinging it out of her way.

As soon as I put the girls back together on Sunday, Josie started sniffing Joy. She made the funniest faces. She’d curl her upper lip up and smile toward the sky! Then in the evening when I was saying good night, Josie tried to mount Joy! That’s what’s called a standing heat. Of course Josie is twice the size as Joy, but she tried. I marked my calendar.

We made a decision this weekend about whether to get a goat or another cow. We decided to use what we’ve got, because I don’t want a third cow and Honey doesn’t want a goat (YET). Joy will be 12 months Oct 20 and she is near breeding age. We will begin AI-ing her soon. I called my AI tech and gave him a heads up that I’ll be needing his services for my heifer. Now I have to order Jersey bull semen!

Another first! OMIGOLLY, who ever thought I’d be talking like this??? Not me! When I first started using these terms, I’d whisper in public while blushing….AI you know, artificial……they’d get it before I’d have to finish it. Now I just let it all hang out. No shame here.

Honey and I agreed that we’d continue to try and breed Joy until the latest calving date acceptable to me, which will be in January. I’m not thrilled about having a winter calf. I think there are just too many issues to worry about. I am willing to have a calf no later than October (9 months gestation). So we have quite a few months to try, probably beginning in November with two possible conception dates 21 days apart. The sooner the better for all of us, but not too soon for Joy. She’s grown quite a bit this summer and I’ll measure her with the dairy tape to get an estimate on her weight. If all is good then it’s a go!

I’m looking for a Miniature Jersey Bull as the sire. Here’s a pic of Pvt Pyle! Since Joy is a petite girl, I’d like for her to have a smaller calf and Mini Jersey’s have a smaller frame than Standard Jerseys. Or I can find a Registered Jersey sire that breeds small calves. So many things to think about.

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Joy has really pretty coloring now, although it’s bound to change before she’s 2 yrs old.

Joy & Sorrow

Yesterday was filled with the joy of Sweet Girls birth 25 years ago and at the same time it was filled with sorrow.

Josie was acting a bit odd yesterday.  She refused her grain in the morning…very odd indeed.  She then started walking around with her tail up like she wanted to poo but couldn’t…also very odd.  Then it hit me…oh my she’s going to calve.  I ran out to examine her and she showed no signs of calving being anywhere near close.  Her ligaments had not separated and showed no signs of dilating.

I gave her a couple little apples off the tree and left her.  She went off to eat grass.  Becca and I were watching Blood Diamonds, a very sad and tragic movie depicting the rebel war raging in Sierra Leone, Africa, surrounding the mining of diamonds.  When we finished the movie I went to check on Josie.  She was very sweetly laying underneath of a tree chewing her cud.  It looked like any typical day around the farm.

As I approached her with her uneaten grain, to see if she was interested in it, I saw something fall out of her.  Then when I looked at her, what I saw was a cow that didn’t look pregnant AT ALL!  Her sides were flat.  We called that slab sided.  I slipped through the electric fence without getting zapped, and I approached the blob.  It was either an afterbirth or a water bag or a placenta.  I ran around in circles, crying and saying out loud….where is the calf?  I ran to the barn…and found no calf.  I ran all around the pasture which I’d just mowed so visibility was great, and still no calf.  I frantically called Honey at work crying and asking him to come home….unbeknownst to me he was already on his way.  (He’ll have quit a good message on Tuesday morning!)

I then called the Vet.  The vet had just pulled a calf and would be at our place in about 30-40 min’s.  We kept searching the area surrounding the field and the underbrush for a calf that might of wondered off…..but by the looks of Josie……there was no calf.  She showed absolutely no signs of birthing, other than the fact that she definitely didn’t look pregnant. She didn’t show any signs on her vulva that she just gave birth.

OK.  Then she didn’t give birth and was going to give birth on Becca’s birthday.  The calf must be in the birth canal thus the slab side and she needed to make progress.  But there was still NO udder development….none at all.  And no signs of her vulva swelling and dilating.

The Vet arrived and began to examine her.  She could not find any sign of pregnancy.  There was nothing inside of Josie.

NOTHING!

She examined the blob and didn’t think it looked like the placenta or afterbirth and sorta looked like the water bag.  She gave me some options.

One….get her someplace for a sonagram!  $$$$$

Two…induce her to see if she expels anything else.

Three….do nothing but watch and wait.

I chose two.  So she was induced just in case something was remaining in her.  If there was, there was a chance that it could kill her.

The Vet’s only guess…..and it is a guess because no one saw what happened and there is no calf or fetus or anything other than that blob.  Her only guess is that she aborted her fetus that for some reason hadn’t developed past a very early stage and that she ate whatever it was.

Numbness hit me….and confusion….I couldn’t wrap my mind around all of it.

She finally ate her grain last night.  She was up and eating grass this morning and seemed just fine.  She doesn’t have a fever.  She is walking around with her tail out, like she did yesterday….obvious signs of contractions from the injections.  I wish I could talk to her.  I wish she could tell me what happened.

But NOTHING.

NOTHING.

I’ve been hit with a ton of emotions.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Pain.  Why did this happen?  Could I of done anything?  Is there something wrong with her?  Will she ever be able to carry a pregnancy?  Will she ever have an udder?  Why me?  What am I suppose to learn?  Do we get another cow that is lactating and bred?  Do we get rid of someone?  Who?  Josie or Joy?  Do we put them in the freezer?

I’m just kinda numb today.  Wishing things could of ended differently.  Ended with the birth of a healthy calf.  But as Job said, “the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

There are some things in this life that we will never understand and were never meant to.

I think it’s a day for good chocolate!

Body Condition Scoring

As you know my entire vocabulary has taken the route of cows.

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On Keeping A Family Cow forum, it’s often asked for someone to comment on a certain cow’s body condition. As a newbie, I’ve found all the numbers more like scoring a swimmer in the Olympics….at least there I know what a perfect 10 is.

The most common range for dairy cows goes from 1-5. And of course somewhere in the middle is best. During a cows life cycle she moves in and out of different scoring.

I found a really great article published by the University of Arkansas on The Importance of Body Condition Scoring.

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Here is what I’m shooting for….a body score between 3 & 4.

I find this job hard because when looking at a pregnant cow, she’s obviously filled out and her body is getting ready for calving. But the vet said Josie looked a little heavy…..yeah, I looked a lot heavy when I was 8 months pregnant! But having been pregnant I can understand the need for good body condition….and I can say, I did not have it!

Here’s what the publication said:

3.0
“This cow is in ideal condition for most stages of lactation. The vertebra are rounded, but the backbone can still be seen. There is between a half-inch and an inch of tissue covering the short ribs. The edges of the ribs are rounded and not as sharp as the BCS 2.0 and 2.5 cows. Hook and pin bones are easily seen, but are round instead of angular. The ligaments connecting them to the backbone form clear boundaries between the forward and rear pelvic areas, but the fat covering
makes them appear smooth and round. The thurl is dished, but not to the same extent as in the thinner cows. The area on either side of the tail head is hollow, but the folds of skin are not as distinct.”
4.0
“Although many producers want their cows to be heavy at calving, research here and in England shows that fat cows lose more condition, eat less and have more post-calving problems than cows that freshen at half a condition score lower. A BCS 4 cow looks fleshy. Her back appears almost solid, like a table top. The short ribs still form a shelf, but they cannot be seen as individual bones and only felt with deep palpation. The hook and pin bones are rounded and have obvious fat padding. The area on either side of the tail

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In this photo though her pin bones look a bit fatty or are they just getting rounded for calving???? I have no clue!

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All I know is a face like that is a perfect 10!!!

Fences & Sling Shots

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Little Joy is such a stinker.  Saturday evening when I went out to feed and put the animals up for the night, Joy was making a sling shot out of the electric fence.

So, how do you know when the fence is down???  The calf is playing with it!

She was really funny to watch, but was insistent on continuing her bad behavior until I tethered her.  She’d grab the line with her tongue and pull it back, further and further until she couldn’t pull anymore….and then she let go…..!!!!  It was too funny to watch.  Then she was grabbing the extra line and chewing and chewing.  No wonder cows get hardware disease….yep, it’s from eating things that aren’t food!  Luckily she didn’t eat any electric line.

I didn’t stick around long enough to watch her get zapped on Sunday morning.  I’m sure it was a shocking experience!!!

And just like I told you, my cow mentor Tammy, told me that Joy’s udder looks a bit over developed for a heifer calf.  Remember a heifer is an unbred calf.  So unless she’s bred, which it seems very unlikely and let’s pray she’s not, then she just might be sucking on herself!  So, again I put lipstick on a pig, I mean cow, rather a heifer.

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It was much brighter before she rubbed some of it off on her foot and back.  But I didn’t see any on her udder.  I reapplied it on Monday morning.

I’ll be watching her.  I guess I might have to call the vet out to put in a permanent nose ring.  Boy, this girl will be quite in the style of things…. tattoos and nose ring!

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Sunflowers & Sunsets

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This is what I get to see when I go out to put the animals up for the night. I’m so glad I planted the sunflowers, however they were TOO much shade for the vines underneath and I didn’t get nearly as many butternut squash or pumpkins as I would of liked. But isn’t life about living and learning.

Yesterday Honey got a good portion of my milkroom built in our little barn.

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We raised the stanchion floor up 6″ to make it level with the entrance and I decided that I’d keep the gravel floor on my side, making me 6″ lower so if and when I hand milk it will be easier to reach.

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We had the barn built so the milk room was on the end opposite the turn-out stall and we planned for the door to open flush with the wall so that the cows could walk straight in and back straight out. We plan to build up the ground a bit more on the outside to help with the backing out part and drainage.

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I love my cow girls. Josie freely comes and goes now as she pleases. Although she has full reign all night of the barn and pasture, I usually find her sleeping in the barn early in the morning. If I sleep in and don’t get out until 7ish she’s out grazing in the pasture. Little Joy is still tethered at night….I have Little Joy stories for tomorrow. She is a stinker.

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I pick up the bite size apples off the ground and Josie quickly learned the word “Apple”! She loves her apple treats. Joy can’t figure out what they are and doesn’t even touch them….more for Josie!

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