Growing Pains

It was just a year ago that we purchased our first five heifers. Now we have one cow, one calf, and four heifers that we are waiting to determine if they are bred. Genesis_5.19We are fairly confident that we will have 2-3 more calves, but only time will tell. Our goal for our cow-calf operation was to have a herd that was on the same calving schedule. It makes it easier to manage a herd if the calves are born around the same time. With Genesis (calf #1) coming in January and no others showing up yet, we were trying to determine the best method to meet our calving schedule goal. After talking to some local cattle raisers and a broker, we decided that our next purchase would be bred cows that would give birth about the same time as those that we already have.

On Tuesday, Charlie went to a ranch that came highly recommended to look at bred Brangus cows. We thought we would try to find ten cows to grow our herd. 6 + 10 = 16 (with future calves) sounded like a good formula. Imagine my surprise when he sent me a text saying he had bought 5 bred cows and 5 cow-calf pairs. 10 cows + 5 calves = 15 new head!!

To prepare for these new cows, Charlie and Jason plus a couple of friends built a new pen with chute. The plan was for the cows to be delivered and unloaded into the pen where they could stay for a while until they settled down from the ride to our place.

What really happened was the driver didn’t want to drive into the pasture and back up to the pens. (He had several reasons why.) He decided to back partially into our gate, let out the five calves and then the ten cows. He assumed that the young calves would huddle around and wait for their mamas to come out of the trailer. Boy, was he wrong. Those calves, all being 30 days old and younger, went c-r-a-z-y! The two older ones ran out into the pasture but then headed back to the fence line. Shadow herded one of the calves to keep it in the fence. One managed to find its way out and was in the area by the fig trees where Raya was. 0430191138bIt was just standing there when Raya was trying to walk up to it. We scooted it back into the pasture. However, the oldest calf – a black Brangus steer – hit the driveway and headed out to the road. As I made it to the road, I saw not only the black calf but a tan one following it! Charlie and the driver took off after the two runaways in the side by side and found one in the neighbor’s pasture and the other one pasture down. So the phone calls began to call the neighbors to help round the calves up. The tan one found its way back to our pasture shortly – listening to the mama cows billowing. We were afraid that it was going to take more effort to get the steer back, but soon he was in the pasture next to ours. Our neighbor was able to rope it and was leading (pulling) it back to our pasture. Charlie, on the other side of the fence, was trying to guide the steer and did a great job because the steer looked at him, put his head down, and plowed over Charlie knocking him to the ground! Charlie wasn’t hurt but discovered how much power a 200 pound calf has! All 5 calves were safe and sound in our pasture.

When we checked on the new members of the herd after dinner, we could only find 3 calves! It was a warm day and it had been a strenuous day for them so we were hoping they were bedded down in the woods where we couldn’t see them. Several friends told us to be patient because even though calves might stray, they would always come home when their mamas called for them. And, they were right. Charlie went out for a headcount on Wednesday morning and saw all 10 cows and 5 calves, plus the original 6.

In the afternoon, we went out to check the herd. The new group was back by the pond figuring out the best shady spots.

After dinner we drove out to see where all of the cows and calves were. We found the ‘Original 5 + 1’ in the front of the side pasture and the new herd members in the back of the side pasture. DSCF7436We parked next to the Originals and watched them and talked to them. It was in no time that the new cows began walking toward us bringing the calves with them.DSCF7461 They came close enough for me to take some great shots. DSCF7484One of the Originals let out a loud ‘mooooo’ while facing the newbies. She has done this several times! She’s the one that I call “Sassy Pants!” It didn’t stop them from coming closer.

After a bit, one of the cows decided it was time to move on and began walking to the back of the pasture again. All of the new cows started following her and her calf except for one cow. The youngest calf had decided that it was time for a nap. Her mama stood there beside her and then started nuzzling the calf until she woke up, stood up, and then followed her mama to the others.

It’s hard to believe that our herd has grown by leaps and bounds in such a short period of time. 5 cows + 1 calf (Genesis) + 5 bred cows + 5 cows + 5 calves = 21 head.

Now the question is how many calves will be born and when!

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