Buttercup is dead, long live Princess Buttercup*.
Buttercup, by the way was my mostly dead bottle calf. She is now completely dead, poor thing.
On the bright side my cow, Poppy, had her calf! A big, gigantically huge, bull calf. She had the big boy all by herself, quite a feat for a heifer. I had been hoping for a heifer calf, all the more so when I spotted the bright white calf from a mile away. He is adorable so much prettier than these boring black calves. Unfortunately the market for white calves with brown spots is limited. Those boring black calves will bring way more with no more difference than color. Oh well, it seems rather callous to be thinking about eating the poor boy already but I’m not sure what else there is to do with him.
He and his mother are both sweethearts though. She has been a great mother for a first timer. Calm and taking good care of her calf. Or should I say calves? Hopefully I should say calves. She is a milk cow. She has lots of milk. My hope was to adopt poor Buttercup onto her but that didn’t work out. I kept saying that once she had her calf I would start looking for another calf to help keep up with all that milk. I would see one advertised and think about calling then remind myself that I was waiting for her to calve, then I would find a calf.
She had her calf Sunday morning.
Sunday afternoon a neighbor stopped by to pick up a wandering cow. He and my husband walked her up from the corrals. They just happened to look in the old falling down horse barn. There, in a barn in a pen that hadn’t had cows in it for almost a week, lay a calf.
What can I say, it’s a God thing.
The three of them are locked in the barn toasty warm out of this nice week of spring snow. Poppy is proving to be a great little cow. She walked into the chute as nice and quiet as could be the first time, not as happily the second but that is to be expected. She let the orphaned calf nurse without kicking, in the chute at least, and let me milk her with out kicking me and breaking my arm. I do like to look on the bright side, I was imagining it the whole time I was knelt under her. After the little guy had drunk his fill I got three cups of Colostrum out of one quarter. I don’t know anything about milk cows but that seemed pretty good.
Colostrum is good to have on hand. I carefully labeled it and saved it in the freezer for the next sickly thing like Buttercup.
Like with horses everything needs trained. I am trying to make the chute a pleasant, or at least not miserable place to be. No hotshots or even overly strong encouragement to get in and I keep corn and/or cake in front of her along with her calf. The calf the she likes and knows is hers that is. That black thing is not hers! She is going to be spending a few more sessions in the chute. Or she may just not accept him at all.
We are working on rewarding the right behavior. In this case letting the calf nurse with out head butting the poor thing. The reward is Cake! Who doesn’t love cake? After spending a whole two minutes working on it she happily accepted cake from my hand and even from the hand of the Goblin Child. Although The Goblin Child isn’t sure she want’s to have her hand nearly devoured by a wet slimy cow mouth. As long as she has a steady flow of feed into her mouth she is willing to put up with almost anything.
It will be a long process with no guarantee of succeeding, but having such a sweet agreeable little cow sure makes it easier.
* You know, Princess Buttercup and her mostly dead hero Westley? Princess Bride? She was a girl I couldn’t very well name her Westley.