Calving started two days ago with Alice, she had a beautiful all red heifer. We started a naming tradition when we bought the Devon cattle. Cows were named after British queens, ones with lots and lots of kids, Devons live long and productive lives. Bulls are named after towns in Devonshire, where the breed originated.
So we have Victoria and Victoria’s oldest daughter is Alice who just calved…Eleanor. Alice married the Duke of Argyll and they did not have any children. Plan B, name the calf after one of his titles, if it had been a bull we’d have had Argyll, but Argyll isn’t girly enough for such a pretty heifer so we looked at his other titles. He has quite a few but none seemed suitable. For Plan C we looked to the present Duke’s wife who is Eleanor, there’s also Eleanor of Aquitaine so we’re keeping up with our queens.
Next looking likely to calve is Buttercup; Buttercup is our resident Absentee Landlord of a mom. She stashes her calf for much, much longer and more persistently than the other cows. Tom didn’t want to be beating the bushes to move the cows up closer to the barn after she’d calved so this morning’s cool weather and a visible Eleanor made today the day.
Moving the cows is a journey of epic proportions. We have six cows and one small calf to move. The cows early morning resting place is the far back corner of the farthest field. They’d have to cut through the fence to get any farther away from where we need them right now.
Step one: get cows up, this usually involves scratching their backs. They’re irritated just enough to get up to move away.
Step two: everyone has to potty. But not all at once and they go twice, once to pee and once to poop. So that made 12 stops in all because no one went before we left. Then we had to add in a stop for little Eleanor. Thirteen in all.
Step three: stop for snacks. No one packed a lunch so every blade of grass looked delicious and irresistible.
Step four: make sure Eleanor isn’t more than one step from Alice because Alice isn’t going anywhere without her. Alice is being an excellent first time mom. She had her in an inaccessible thicket, think a Sleeping Beauty of a thicket. No one was sneaking up on her and her baby. She takes her with her when she goes out to dinner and she didn’t try to kill us when we eartagged her. Bonus points from us there. Now we know exactly who is who when we have another all red heifer.
Step five: repeat steps 2 through 4 for the next 30 days, no wait that was 3 hours. No, no 30 minutes, it just seemed longer. I thought crossing the rain swollen Zambezi River added to the length of the journey but Tom was channeling his inner John Wayne and insisted it was the Red River. In reality everyone kept their feet dry in the lane between ponds.
Mission accomplished with no one lost to a hungry pride of lions or cattle rustlers. We’ll keep you posted on the rest of the calving season. Candy