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.