Sunday, March 13, 2011

Molly's calf

At sundown Friday, Mike came into the barn to tell Katherine and I that Molly had given birth in the far pasture. Of course, we had to go running out there to see what was up. Mike was alerted to the whole situation by the fact that Molly was mooing non-stop. When we got out there, a little calf was wobbling around and Molly was running around and around him mooing. The neighbor's dogs, which are housed in a small pen next to our property line, were barking and howling continuously, which is probably what was freaking her out. She also kept pushing the calf -- probably to a place where she thought he would be safer.

I told Katherine to get a towel and a pan of alfalfa cubes, so we could dry the calf, which was shivering, and then encourage Molly to follow us to the barn. While we waited, I walked up to the calf and felt under its belly to discern whether it was a bull or a heifer. "It's a boy," I told Mike.

When Katherine got back, Molly was very happy to follow us with the alfalfa cubes, and Mike wrapped the towel around the calf and picked it up. When we arrived at the barn, Mike put the calf on the ground and went to open the barn door, and that's when everything got a little crazy. Our guard dog came trotting up to say hi, and Molly charged at him, smacking him with her head. He growled at her, and I yelled at him. He backed off with his tail between his legs, but Molly really went into maternal-protection mode and started pushing and tossing the calf, who went flying into the water trough head first! Katherine lunged towards the calf to pull him out of the trough, and Molly charged at Katherine. Thank goodness she is polled -- meaning she has no horns -- or Katherine would still be in the ICU, because Molly hit her right in the chest.

Mike scooped up the dripping-wet calf and hurried into the barn, while I offered Molly alfalfa cubes by hand to encourage her to follow me. After we put them in the barn together, Molly kept pushing the calf. It is only a ten-foot wide stall, so after a couple of pushes, she was pushing him against the wall. I had to keep reminding myself that this is a calf, which is a lot tougher than a tiny goat kid, and Molly is only trying to protect him from the dogs, which were still barking and howling. I gave her several flakes of alfalfa, hoping that would take her mind off the calf. It worked -- somewhat. As we continued doing chores, we kept hearing banging sounds coming from the stall, but every time we looked in there, the calf seemed to be fine.

Saturday morning he was running around, and Molly had calmed down considerably. Today, the little calf was coming up to us when we walked in the stall, and Molly let Katherine handle her udder. We'll start milking her in a few days. We don't have a name for the calf yet. There is a 75 percent chance he is polled, because both of his parents are polled, and a lot of people would probably love to have a red polled bull -- and after hearing about Molly and Katherine's altercation, you can understand why most people don't want a horned bull. If he's not polled, he might become beef, so a name like Chuck or Stew would be most appropriate.


Em said...

My goodness! I'm glad the cow was polled! I hope Katherine isn't bruised too badly, and I'm glad to hear the calf seems fine after all that pushing and shoving!

Anton said...

Thanks so much for sharing news about some of your other varieties of livestock. I'm especially interested in your calf as my Randall cow will freshen in the near future--our first calf at the farm. I'm going to go out and pick up a bag of alfalfa cubes and begin training her to follow, great tip. My Toggenburg doe is due to freshen the 23rd . . . I hope all goes well!

Nancy K. said...

Good Lord!!!

LindaG said...

Jeeze. I have another friend who's been hit in the chest by a cow. I think I would have make it hamburger after that.

Good luck with your new addition!


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