|Molly with baby Monty|
|Bella with her adopted baby Romeo|
Meanwhile we had weaned Molly at about 12 months old and by then we had also bought a small Dexter bull, because it can be difficult to AI a heifer. Donald took care of that, and Molly was in calf too. Molly had a quick and successful birth of a tiny bull calf, and was no trouble to milk except that she couldn’t always remember how to come into the milking bales (Molly is not as smart as her mother and often gets “stuck” on the wrong side of a fence when she forgets where the gate is).
Bella got mastitis again when we dried her off before her next calf, and had to have antibiotics again. This is really not how we hoped to manage our cows, but I think Bella had a rough start to life and doesn’t have the natural health that Molly enjoys. And then Bella’s next calf never appeared. We gave up waiting after a few months, realising that she had either miss-carried or had never been in calf. Around this time Donald died, we think from eating lantana, which can be very poisonous for cattle. Without our bull, we were back to AI to get the cows in calf, and we were having a tough time working out when they were on heat. Cows are very vocal when they are younger, we certainly know when the two heifer calves are on heat, but not their mothers.
|Our little bull Donald|
Molly was getting thin again, so we had to wean her calf and dry her off too, and then we had no milk! Two house cows and no milk is not a good management situation, but we are still learning.
Then we heard about another small bull for sale in the area, even though bulls can be very very annoying at times, we decided he would probably do a better job. When bully arrived he was very interested in Molly. Dammit. Looks like Donald didn’t get a chance to mate her before he died. It could be a while before we have a calf again!
|Bella is a special cow|
Bella is looking very fat and healthy. We don’t know if she is in calf, or if the metritis has affected her fertility. Tough choices lie ahead, but honestly I can’t see us selling her or eating her. I know some small farmers keep their cows for a few years, then send her off the meat works and get a new one, but Bella is special. She is our first cow and we really have a bond with her. (I told you she was crafty!). When a cow gives you her milk, its like you're one of her calves, and it really feels wrong to me not to look after that cow, even if you can't give you another calf.
In a few weeks we will get the vet to come and pregnancy test the cows so we know what to expect. Its kind of nice to have a break from all the milking and cheese-making, but I’m missing the raw milk.
I'd love to hear your house cow stories! Tell me all about your lovely cows :)