Sunday, January 18, 2015

The calves

My cow, Grace, gets milked twice a day by three calves... one she gave birth to and a couple of Holstein steers.  On our recent road trip, we let the Holsteins go without milk and let Gypsy, Grace's daughter, spend two days at her mother's side keeping her milked.  It worked just fine.  
At two or three feedings a week, the biggest, fastest-growing Holstein, Moose, shows no interest in milk.  He will perhaps nose around at a teat, then back off.  This is another first for me.  I've never seen a three-month-old calf refuse a teat unless it was sick.  The first couple times it happened I watched him closely the rest of the day to see if something was wrong, but he ate hay and chewed his cud and seemed normal in all aspects.  Now I just shrug and go about my business.  The other two calves are only too happy to take Moose's share of the milk, and he is always ready for his milk at the next feeding; meanwhile he continues to be the biggest and fastest-growing of the group.  

The calves are three months old now, and if I could come up with a couple of three-day-old bull calves, I would wean these.  They are eating plenty of grain and hay, and  on our small acreage I think they would be more easily weaned now than later.  My problem is that I really don't want to spend $700 on two Holsteins.  I would be perfectly happy with a couple of Jersey bull calves, and they are half the price.  The people at Holden, the ones from whom I often buy calves, usually start coming up with Jerseys (or Jersey-cross) in February, so I may wait until then and see.  Right now, everyone selling Jersey bull calves on Craigslist will only sell in groups of fifteen or more.  I just want a couple!  

A friend knows someone with a Jersey herd right across the Iowa line.  I need to find out how much they get for their bull calves:  With the price of gas so low right now, it might be worth a trip to buy a couple of calves.  I imagine they would be cheaper than the ones on Craigslist, since we would be cutting out the middleman. 

I realize I'm not doing many updates lately.  I'm in my usual winter funk.  We haven't had Cora here lately, and she is our dose of winter sunshine.  I think we will have her this week, and maybe I will cheer up.  

With the seed catalogs coming thick and fast, I've been thinking about this coming summer's garden.  I know it's going to be smaller than gardens I've had in the past five years.  I do still want sweet corn.  I love our Bodacious variety and mentioned that on Facebook.  A friend who has been a Bodacious fan tells me she has found a sweet corn that is even better; I don't even know how that's possible, but I will perhaps plant a few Honey Select seeds and see if I agree.  If it weren't for the sweet corn, I could REALLY shrink my garden.  We'll see how I feel when it's planting time.  


Sister--Three said...

I may try those types of corn. I have decided you are a cowgirl!!

Margaret said...

I just grow tomatoes, but last year's crop didn't do very well, so I have to figure out a different option. The weather wasn't the issue; I think it was the soil.


Thinking spring with these cold temps we've had is a good thing. Whatever you decided to do with your garden this year will be mighty fine in the long run.