My original plan, in getting one Holstein calf, was to eventually turn Mama Grace out with both calves: her daughter and the new addition, whose name is Whitey. I know, not too original, but it isn't like I'll get attached to him; and he'll be gone in a year anyhow. I intended to supervise them twice a day at feeding time and, once I thought they were old enough to stick together, turn them loose. Whitey was a week younger than Gypsy, but is an aggressive eater. Each calf had its own side of the cow, giving them each two teats. Simple.
The grandson has used all the beef he got from his half of Jody, the Jersey cow that wouldn't breed back after her first calf. (Don't you like it that our meat in the freezer actually has a name?) Anyhow, Arick wants more meat in the freezer, and as soon as he saw Whitey, he gave me $325. I said, "Well, by the time he's a year old, we might need some meat, so I will sell you half of him for that price."
This seemed fine to Arick. Keep in mind he is paying me what I gave for the calf, but he is buying half of a yearling. So I'm just raising it for him for half the beef.
Whitey was doing so well, and Grace had so much milk, that I wondered if I should add another calf to the mix, especially since I now had my $325 back. It's a decision that had to be made quickly, because I didn't want too much age spread between the calves. After all, they would be three calves fighting over four teats, and the stronger, most aggressive calf might end up with lots of milk, depriving a weaker animal of his nutrients.
So we bought Moose. He was going to be "Newby" (the name I originally gave Whitey), but he is SO huge and clumsy, Moose just felt right. There is a two-week spread in age between the youngest calf and the oldest one, but Moose is holding his own. I still have to steer him to the proper end of the cow, but once he connects, he's good.
However, I don't think I will be turning the cow out with these three. Cliff and I have discussed it, and for various reasons, it would seem to be better to simply let her in with the babies twice a day. They can get on calf starter (a grain mix for baby calves) and I can even wean them early and perhaps put a new baby on the cow in three or four months (something tells me the price will be a little lower in January or February). Or, I can let her run with her daughter, who by that time will have no problem taking all the milk.
My original purpose in buying a calf, remember, was so I wouldn't have to milk twice a day. But guess what? If I proceed with my new plan, I will be going out to the barn twice a day to turn the cow in with the calves so THEY can do the milking. I might as well be milking!
I'm enjoying it, though. It's so much fun to watch the three calves frolic after they have full bellies. And since Cliff has decided to quit haying, perhaps when we sell Moose, he will bring in enough money to pay for some hay.
I'm trying not to think about Murphy's Law here.