I had mentioned that Cliff wanted to sell the cows, and there was a reason for this: he was tired of losing a large percentage of our calf crop each year. When you only have two or three cows, one calf is a big loss.
Last year one of the calves died of scours (diarrhea, for you city folks). It shouldn't have happened. We ought to have been more vigilant, but we hadn't had cows around for years, and had forgotten the risk. Had we caught the problem early on, the calf would have recovered. Our herd consisted of three cows at that time, so that left us two calves. But we took the bull home too soon, and it turned out only two of our three cows was pregnant. Cliff sold the open cow, and also the two six-month-old calves.
Imagine my joy when, last May, Lucy had twin heifer calves. Our joy turned to frustration, though, when we realized they were nursing both their mom and their aunt, who wouldn't have her baby for another month. We tried seperating the cows, but they were so frantic to be together that I believe they would have broken through the iron curtain itself! Certainly a few strands of barbed wire didn't stop them.
Money, the other cow, had a nice, big bull calf in June, and we had visions of steaks, hamburgers, and roasts. We made him a steer on his second day of life, and hoped somehow the month-old twins would leave enough milk for a newborn.
He got by, although I don't think he was growing as well as he would have if those two leeches hadn't been stealing his food. For some reason, he kept getting through a fence to the neighboring farm, which was an aggravation. Cliff and I both swear these are the stupidest bovines ever to walk the earth: I NEVER had these kinds of problems when I had my Jerseys. Of course, their calves were raised on bottles and kept away from them after they were three days old, so nursing the wrong mom was never a problem.
Four days ago, we realized the little steer was missing. The other times he got out, he and his mom bawled and bellowed until we reunited them. This time, no mooing was heard.
Without the calf bawling, the mom wasn't worried, because she had two calves nursing her. So we figured the calf must be dead.
We have ditches on this place in which you could easily hide our two-story house. The ravines are deep, and many of the banks are straight up and down.
Last night Mandy led me through the timber, down a steep slope leading to the bottom of one of the deepest canyons on our place, to a place where I could see the corpse... although there was no way I could get down there. I imagine he fell and perhaps broke his neck. Otherwise, he'd have bawled, and his mother would have been frantic. And we'd have helped him out.
Cliff was already a little depressed about getting rid of the D-17 Allis Chalmers, and he decided it was time to quit fighting it. He'd sell the cows. Since we have the horses on the place, we have to keep them in seperate pens, because horses will chase cows to the point of exhaustion. It has been a pain keeping the two species seperate, I'll admit.
Well, Cliff has had a change of heart. For now, at least, we're keeping the cows. We have plenty of hay in the barn, and we can always sell them later if we must.
This year we ended up with a 100% calf crop: two cows, two calves... at least so far.
Oh, the picture above is of the steer, right after we'd retrieved him from the wrong side of the fence a few weeks ago. He is now providing a feast for coyotes, bobcats, possums, and the occasional dog that passes through the woods.