Sunday, January 31, 2016

Slowly but surely, she's learning to trust.

Remember Luna, the heifer calf named for the full moon near her birth last October 26?  Even though she was too young to wean when I sold her mother on New Year's Day, I kept her.  Because she had been running free beside her mother since birth, she was "wild as a March hare".  

My main concern was to somehow keep her from getting the stark-haired, puny, pot-bellied look that most early-weaned calves get.  I offered her a bottle early on, but she showed no interest whatsoever.  A two-month-old calf can't be forced to take a bottle, especially if she's so scared of humans that you can't get within reach of her.  My only option was to give her all the calf starter she could eat, which within two weeks was two large coffee-cans full daily.  At that point I stopped increasing the amount, because I do have my limits; she still gets two cans full, though.  She looks well-fed and healthy a month after being orphaned, so I guess I'm doing the right thing.  

My second concern was getting her gentled.  We put a halter on her as soon as her mother was gone, just so we'd have a way of restraining her or working on her if necessary.  So far the only thing I've done with the halter is to loosen it twice.  That's twice in a month, so she IS growing!  However, eventually I'll start tying her up for an hour or so at a time to get her halter-broke.  I'm waiting until she builds a little more trust.

The frigid temperatures over the early part of January worked in my favor, since Luna's bucket of water froze often.  Three times a day I'd carry warm water out to her, and she was soon waiting expectantly for her drink when I showed up.  I'd pour the water on top of the ice to melt it and step back; she'd go right up and start guzzling.  

When she began cleaning up all the feed in front of her and had to wait until I showed with more, it wasn't long before she figured out I was also the one responsible for putting feed in the empty bunk.  By this time if I shut the door to the barn when she was eating, I could walk up to her and eventually pet her and rub her neck.  Oh, she would walk away from me, but if I stayed right beside her and kept following her around, she would stop and allow herself to be handled and petted.  She's still somewhat touchy that way, but she's better all the time.  I took Cliff to the pen with me today so he could take some pictures of me with Luna, but with two people that close she figured it was a trap, and we didn't get a decent picture.  Later on I went out with my camera and managed to take a few pictures to show you that she is, indeed, coming around.


ErinFromIowa said...

Doing good there! Loving all the sunshine. Enjoyed it today in DSM also.

Anita said...

I've missed my time at the farm! I hope to visit more often in 2016. Blogging was, sadly, at a minimal in 2015.

Happy New Year to you and your family!