One day I’ll learn to listen to my dog and stop second guessing him. Yesterday morning, Wally and I were enjoying some leisure time. We had done all of the outside chores, including milking Gwen. We had not put her up though. After a while, I looked out all the windows and didn’t see her. Great. We’ve been questioning whether or not she was in or coming into heat and all I could picture was Gwen lumbering down the driveway towards the beef cattle across the street looking for a bull.
I went out with my slippers and no coat. I sent Gel to find her and he went into the woods that are on the property. He was in there for a while and I still had the picture of Gwen being down towards the road and I called Gel out. He didn’t come the first few times I called and I got angry with him. Eventually he came out and the four of us (Gel, Mica, Rose and me) headed down the driveway. I did not see Gwen. I kept sending Gel to look for her, but he kept turning around looking at me as if to say, “look for what?”
We circled all around the property, me still in slippers and no coat. It was a brisk, vigorous walk. The dogs enjoyed it. Eventually Wally came out looking for me. We got back to the house and there was Gwen, near the woods where Gel went at first.
I owed that dog a big apology.
Gwen should have been re-bred within 60 to 90 days of having her calf. That would have meant breeding her by the end of November at the latest. We were going to take her back to the dairy to for artificial insemination. Normally, I wouldn’t choose AI, but because she’s lame, I didn’t want a full-size bull breeding her. I toyed with using a Dexter bull, but those are few and far between.
I’ve been talking to other people that are more experienced in cows, but each cow is different and Gwen’s signs of being in heat may not be the same as another cow, especially since she lives basically alone. This morning, we drove out to a local farm where they had bottle calves they got from the same dairy where Gwen came from. Some were four months old and still bulls. Gosh, it was a sad sight. Those poor calves. What horrible lives they had. Our calves are double, even triple the size of their oldest calves.
So I started to call dairies to see if I could find an older bull calf. None did. A friend of mine told me about an advertisement in a local newspaper for a couple of bulls, one was a Jersey so I called. The one they had was seven months old. We went out to look at him and he was a lot smaller than even Gwen’s calf who is a month younger. Raising calves on replacement milk and then weaning them at eight weeks old just doesn’t cut it. We traded one of our older (larger!) steer calves for the bull calf and he’s now here. He’s way too small to breed, but hopefully having another cow in with her will give us a better idea of when she’s in heat and we can get her artificially inseminated to get her bred this time around. Then, when it comes time to breed her again, this bull will be big enough.
Yes, I know Jersey bulls have a reputation for being hard to handle. The plan is to dog-break him early and use Gel to keep him in line. We were able to manage Buster in that manner so hopefully we can do it with this one. If not, he’ll look very good in the freezer.
Dogs and cows …
Until later …