I had originally intended to watch for another Jersey, since they're my favorite breed. And who knows how long Bonnie will last? We aren't positive, but we think she was in heat last weekend. Before it's time for her to cycle again, we'll take her to visit Cliff's brother's bull and hope for the best. Poor thing, one of her quarters no longer gives milk and another is compromised; she seems to have a displaced hip, so she walks with a peculiar gait. Not that this destroys her quality of life... shake a feed can at her and she can run at the speed of light to get to it. That cow lives to eat!
We went to the livestock auction a few days ago and were astounded at the prices beef cattle are bringing. High-grade 600-pound calves are bringing as much as $900 each, so I thought to myself, "We have grass and hay to spare, and it's just going to waste. We could have another cow on the place making us money."
I finally realized that since I already have one Jersey cow and a Jersey heifer that will probably be having a calf in eighteen months, I'd be wiser to consider a beef cow that wouldn't have to be milked at all.
We no longer have a pickup or trailer with which to transport cattle, so when Phil said he'd let me buy one of his cows (and he'd deliver it), we jumped right on that deal. Lindie asked in a comment if the cow we're buying had been pregnancy checked; no, she isn't far enough along to check. But Cliff's brother would make it good with us one way or another. After all, he's the one who lets us use his bull for Bonnie, free of charge. He's a good brother.
So we'll get Babe, the new cow, accustomed to the place, turn her loose, and wait until she has a calf and raises it up to weaning size, then sell the calf. Free money, right?
Not quite. I don't count the cost of mowing and baling hay, because Cliff mows this place like a park anyhow. Just remember, though, that the calf Babe has in September won't be ready to sell until June or July of the next year, so it'll be eighteen months before we see a return on our investment. And if she has a heifer calf, we might keep it. On the other hand, we could probably take her to the sale barn when she's about ready to calve next September and make money on her. Not that we plan to do that, because then we'd be looking for another cow to buy, wouldn't we?
There's always the risk of a cow dying. We once had a pretty weaned Holstein heifer that drowned in a shallow pond, in less than two feet of water: The pond was iced over, the heifer walked out on the ice a short distance, the ice broke, and she couldn't make her way out of the ice-covered pond; she thrashed and struggled until she dropped from exhaustion, and was already dead when we discovered her there. Years ago a lovely registered Jersey heifer was frolicking through the pasture, we assume, and ran right into a barbed wire fence, which wrapped around her neck in a hideous way. She was alive when we found her, but her neck was broken. Any time you are dealing with livestock, there's a risk.