Shades of Ireland

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Casualties of the Cold

The computer informs me that it is a bitterly cold 11 degrees this morning. Even though the weather service has been predicting this for over a week, I just kept hoping that it wouldn't really drop this low.

Just before Christmas, a friend of mine gave me a Holstien heifer bottle calf. She was born during the last very bitter cold snap and had gotten severly frostbitten. Her rear legs were swollen but she was alert, vigorous and eating, so of course, I had to give it a try. We bottle fed her for a few days and then I bought another invalid cow. This was a sick Jersey cow and after a week of good feed and medication, she was able to provide enough milk for the calf. I called the cow Holly and this calf Ivy.
After almost a month, it became evident that Ivy was more injured than we thought. Her hind feet were slowly dying and begining to be very painful. It became obvious that they were eventually going to drop off. We put her down and now I am milking Holly every morning and night.

This morning, I am anxiously waiting for the sun to come up. Yesterday, I told you about the group of bred cows that we bought in November. I decided to take one more look at the girls before I started afternoon chores and see how the hay supply was holding out and to make sure the creek was still running and not frozen over completely.  I got quite a surprise when I rounded the tree line and saw Granny Cow with a newborn calf. My heart just sank. I had really thought that she would wait a few more days until this weather cleared up. She is a wise old cow and had gotten up under a cedar tree out of the wind and snow to give birth. The calf was pretty dry and while I stood there, it hopped up and bawled. It had obviously already been up and nursed. I backed away quickly because I didn't want to alarm her into moving it  away from the trees.

When we bought these 6 bred cows, we knew that we were taking a gamble on the weather. I bought 3 that were preg checked as in their third trimester and the other 3 were in the second trimester. The last 3 will calf at pretty much the same time as our herd when the weather should be warming up and grass begining to grow.
The other calves are a week or so older and vigorous enough to fend for themselves and can take shelter in the tree line.
This is why we pull our bull out of the pasture in late Febuary and don't put him back in until about the first of June. We don't want our calves born in the cold of winter. Ranchers calve in the late fall and early winter all the time. Their cows live out on the range in much tougher conditions than my girls have it. It's a gamble that you will lose some......... but, dang, I hate it.

Morning update: IT IS COLD!! I suited up and ventured out to check for this calf before doing any chores. I found most of the herd bunched up under some really big cedar trees. The calf was in the middle of the bunch and doing just fine. Brindle let me get close enough to check before she warned me off......

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