…on our way to pick up another calf. Normally, this would be done with maybe a pickup revised for stock or a hitch-compatible vehicle with a stock trailer… not us.

We’re on our way to pick up a calf and cart it home in the van.  I’ve removed the seat, put down tarp and a blanket… we’re set for calf-hauling.

Though my milking skills have come a long way (from only being able to use my right hand, to getting them both going fast enough to make the milk foam!) in a short time, our cow is unpredictable at how long she will stand still to be milked.  I can’t afford to waste an hour a day waiting for her to stand still long enough to do 20 minutes of milking… and this is WITH her calf still nursing from her!!

My uncle’s generally sound advice was to let the cows raise calves for us and buy our milk.  I think he means forever.  It would certainly be less work, and we wouldn’t be as tied down.  Nevertheless, don’t think that we’re giving up on milking forever!!!  At some point either this cow or another one will be good at standing for us and I will be good at milking.  At that point, we WILL have fresh milk, even if it’s only for a few months out of the year.  (In which case, I hear you can FREEZE milk and use it year long… if we do some serious milking when the cow freshens and freeze everything but what we can use each day… still profitable, not as much with the tying down and milking in the wintertime!  Something to think on, anyway!)

In the meantime, Snowball will feed two calves and NOT suffer from an engorged bag.  We think. 

So our new $75, week-old steer from a dairy farm in Bennington will be riding home in our van with us tonight, nursed on Snowball while she’s in a stanchion until she adopts him (if she ever does).  And I will continue to practice milking skills two times a day when he is finished… I think.

Sadly, I’m afraid Sheby is on her way out once her calf is weaned.  My uncle’s verdict when I explained her behavior in the stanchion was that she obviously wasn’t cared for well last time she was in milk.  Otherwise she should have all four quarters functioning and she’d stand better.  Added to that is the fact that one of her knees seems to have a chronic swelling problem, which would be worth correcting in a proper dairy cow, but just isn’t worth an extra $100-$400 to try to correct or continue to treat when all she really is being used for is a nursemaid for a single calf… even that she is not excelling at due to the missing quarters and injured leg (which inhibits grazing, which inhibits milk production, etc, etc,)  

Nuts!  I really wanted a heifer off that cow! 

_____________

Update,

Chuckles (our new calf) is home.  No, honey, I did NOT get pictures of a week old calf (who is miles bigger than OUR week old calves) inside our van.  Sorry, to disapoint!  Snowball will not stand at all when he’s in the stall, but since he’s a week old and this is his first time in the wide, wide world (individual calf pens for newborn -week old calves are not very big, really…) he decided to frolic and disturb her when she was ALREADY angry because Sheby got to go out to pasture without her (only because we didn’t get the gate shut fast enough, and since we aren’t milking Sheby, there’s no real point in chasing her and Bambi down.)  I thought we were going to have to untangle her mangled body from the fence there for awhile… add to that the hostile body language I was receiving… and the fact that the calf bugging her wasn’t hers…. it was truly understandable that she pitched a 1400lb fit while in the stanchion..  Understandable, but disappointing nonetheless. 

So, Ebony (her calf) and Chuckles (or Chuck Roast.. or really, just Chuck) are spending the night indoors in a stall while mamma Snowball stews outside.  I bet she comes in and stands nicely tomorrow for her calf to suckle.  I’m hoping that Chuck (who was JUST taught to bucket feed instead of bottle feed) will pick the sucking habit back up before Ebony gets done eating.  I’m hoping that Snowball stands still for the process.  I’m hoping that I don’t have to stand up to milk enough to feed a calf again like I did tonight due to her hissy fit and my concerns about her body shifting habits when she’s angry.  That would be especially frustrating when we got the calf to avoid just that scenario. 

She’ll catch on.

Won’t she???
 
Chuckles’ previous owners suggested that our kids show our new calf in the pee-wee leagues.  (He’s out of "California" which is only one of their VERY MANY prize-winning Holsteins.)  I’m thinking, we arrived here in a van to pick up a calf… how are we getting to the show when he’s four months old rather than a week old???  Also, I know JACK about halter training at all, let alone teaching a calf to stand in ‘show positions’. 

If anyone ELSE’s child wants to come train a show calf and use him as such and has their OWN calf transporting abilities… they are welcome to borrow Chuckles. 

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