Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We moved the calves

The only bit of decent pasture we have left is a plot behind the house.  Horses are really hard on pasture, and this is the only place they've not been grazing on.  A lot of the grass there is still green, even as we are getting ready to move on into December.

The calves are about five weeks old, maybe six.  It's really funny that these are the first calves I've ever purchased whose arrival date I didn't write down somewhere.  But the first pictures I put on Facebook were taken October 21.  They're growing well, still taking milk replacer and eating probably four or five pounds of calf starter (grain) between them every day.

Yesterday I suggested to Cliff that we move the calves behind our house instead of in the little barn lot in front.  "They are trying to pick at the dry, brown weeds in the little lot," I told him, "and there can't be any food value there.  There is still good grass behind the house."

"How are we going to get two calves through the yard, around the house, to the back?" Cliff asked.  

"Easy.  I'll mix up some milk replacer, and put it in the bottles; they'll follow us anywhere."

He seemed skeptical, but decided to go put electric fence across the plot of grass to keep the calves close to the house at the start and see what happened.  Cliff had put up a small stretch of electric fence in the barn lot when we first got them so they'd be trained and know what it was whenever we turned them out to pasture.   This always works well, although if calves realize they are free from their original pen they sometimes take off running.  In that case, they are liable run right through the electric fence before they even see it the first time; after that, they usually pay attention and stay away from it.  

I half-filled two calf bottles with milk replacer.  Both Cliff and I had a bottle, and everything went as planned.  They each followed us through the gate of the lot, around the house, and through the gate into their new home.  Cliff had already moved the calf hutches back there, side by side.  That area is unprotected from the north wind, so they had to have some place of refuge.

They finished their bottles, saw the feed boxes with grain in it and immediately dived in for a brief bite, and then discovered the green grass at their feet and started grazing.  One of them wandered near the electric fence out of curiosity and got shocked, then went back to grazing.  

I can still look out the north windows and see them nearby, which is almost a necessity these days.  I am just not as vigilant as I once was, and I need every trick in the book to keep me attentive to their needs.  

As I create this entry, Cliff is out doing the rest of the preparation for the calves' winter home.
He's bedding them down with plenty of straw, securing the hutches so they won't blow away, and doing all the other mundane things that are necessary.  From there on, it's my project again.

I made the mistake of telling Cora we were going to eat the calves when they are big.  "You're going to eat my calves?"  (I never told her they were hers, but she figures everything around this place is hers.)

"Yes, when they're big," I answered.  

"I don't want you to do that."

"Oh.  Well, what if we just sell them?"

That, she decided, would be fine with her.  Keep in mind that I did not say we WOULD sell them.  But I will choose my words wisely when the time comes to take them to the butcher shop.  


  1. Your posts are always so informative and I enjoy reading them - - but as soon as you mentioned eating the calves I knew that I'm definitely not cut out to be a country boy. I'm a wimp at heart.
    But I would have definitely liked to have those electric fences to keep my rotten neighbors at bay when I lived in Texas....

  2. Nice you have them in view and hope the winter shelter works.

  3. Cora, sounds like a smart kid. Maybe you won't be eating them. You 2 are in love with that child.


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