Seeing double


Good old number 68 with Burt and Nan

Wednesday morning as I drove in after taking Rafe to preschool, I noticed Mr. Bull laying on the bedding pile with all 6 of his calves.

“How cute,” I thought, “I’ve got to get a picture.”

I went in the house, grabbed the camera, and headed out. As I walked up to the fence I noticed 2 brand spankin’ new calves on the ground. I looked around to see who the new mama’s were. I knew good old number 68 was close, and indeed she was nosing one of the calves. But the other 2 cows that haven’t calved yet didn’t even look close, they weren’t bagged up at all.

All of a sudden the lightbulb went off over my head.

“Wait a minute,” I said to good old number 68, “you didn’t have twins did you?” Indeed she had.

Good old number 68 was one of the first cows we started our herd with 4 years ago. We bought her at the salebarn, and she surprised us that first year with twin bull calves. The last 2 years she’s had single heifer calves. 6 calves in 4 years. I think we’ve got our money’s worth from her.

But having me near the fence made her nervous. She trotted off with one calf following her. But the other calf was too weak to maneuver the mud and yuck that’s built up with this week’s rains. I left, but all morning I kept checking on them from my office window. And all morning she stayed off with the one calf. And all morning I shouted through the window, “Go back and get your other baby!”

Finally I had to stop stressing about it. Worst case scenario, one calf dies. It would be sad, but it’s not like we had twins in the business plan. Our cash flow projections wouldn’t be affected. Second worst case scenario, she only accepts one calf and we have to bottle feed the other. (Of course, this would be Olivia’s best case scenario.)

But good old number 68 is a good mother and this morning I saw her nursing both calves at once. Tomorrow the rain is supposed to end, and the temperatures are supposed to be back up in the 70′s. That will get everybody warmed up, dried off, and feeling good.

So this year’s twins are a boy-girl pair, named Burt and Nan (of course).

As much as I enjoy complaining about Matt’s cows, I have to say he’s built a pretty reliable herd. Those cows will lay down and pop out a calf, in sub-sub-par conditions, and be the kind of mothers that can keep their babies alive in those conditions. Now if we can only build a sow herd that does the same.

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5 Responses to Seeing double

  1. Genie says:

    Kelli, that is so cool! I don’t know how you guys do it…I think I would completely freak out over all the piglets and calves and all that…and would be a mess every time one of them looked even close to getting laid on or left out of the nursing or whatever. I’m so impressed by what you and Matt do.

  2. karl says:

    wonderful news, your recent issue with your hog operation has been bolstered by your cows. one of the many benefits of not putting all your eggs in one basket. maybe the hogs will come through and save the day in the future.

  3. Gin says:

    They’re nice size for twins, good looking! Even better that mamma accepted both. Just don’t plan on keeping the heifer calf to breed.

  4. farm mom says:

    Hi! Cute Twins! I’ve been reading your blog for months now and I love it!! :) I homestead on a couple of acres in MI and live the real farm life vicariously through your posts and pictures! I appreciate the fact that you’re honest about the ups and downs of farm life and don’t just paint a rosy picture. I hope you have a great season and look forward to reading about it.

  5. Thanks, Genie, you are so sweet!Karl – you’re right, that’s exactly why farms should be diversifiedGin – we’re grateful for such a good outcome. Freemartinism – might make a good blog topic :)farm mom – thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment!