Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Blessed Bovine Part 3

What a good mama she is. She gave birth during a raging blizzard, yet kept her baby warm and protected from the coyotes that inhabit the woods. She survived on basically nothing, yet produced enough milk to raise a healthy, strong, playful heifer calf.

The morning after what we call "the rodeo" of capturing her, the neighbor came over with hay and feed. She said that she wasn't real comfortable having the cow at their place, she has a five year old son to worry about. She thought maybe the cow would need to go to market, and they would bottle raise the calf.

My heart dropped to my knees. I knew I couldn't keep them. I would have had to completely redo the fencing, it would mean hauling even more water than I already did for the llamas, feeding out more hay, etc. I was at my limit of animals I could care for properly. There was already too much "outside work" that wasn't getting done.

Yet that cow that had been through so much! She was a survivor, a testament to her hearty Hereford breed. I hadn't let them capture her to take her to market. She deserved a life of steady meals of nice fresh hay and silage and clean water to drink.

I said I understood, I couldn't blame her etc, and she went home. I promptly bawled my eyes out. I'm a sap when it comes to animals, can you tell?

The next day, she brought over more hay and feed. She had spoken with a friend with a lot of beef cattle experience, who thought the cow might settle down once she was in a place she couldn't get out of. So they were going to try. They needed some time to reinforce their fence and cattle pens, but then they would come get the pair. My heart took back it's rightful place, I was so glad. In the meantime, they brought a whole stack of bales to make a wind break/shelter for the pair, and bedding straw for them.

They stayed here for about another week. Mama calmed down, and would even come close as we put new feed in her pen. I wasn't there when they came to get her, but apparently the transfer went fine, and she settled into her new place without incident.

This summer we found out where she came from. Her owner rented summer pasture 2-3 miles away. Apparently she goes absolutely crazy when it comes time to load her into the trailer to go back to their winter pasture grounds, and she escaped. She did a lot of damage to the neighboring fields that the owner had to pay for, and they couldn't catch her. He didn't want her back.

This just makes me crazy and absolutely livid. He didn't bother to look for her, didn't bother to check with the neighboring farms to let them know about this cow on the loose. He just left her to starve or get taken by predators. Look how skinny she is in the photo up there. Moron!

The good news: She is bred and due in May. The calf is huge! I just spoke to my neighbor, and she is going to send some recent photos. I will update when I get them.

There is still the story of how she earned the Blessed Bovine moniker. Next time.


rilera said...

I'm so glad she wasn't sent to market, she's so beautiful and brave! I'm a sucker for animals too, so I can relate to you.

Have a great Thanksgiving Annie!

Robin said...

Coming out of "lurkdom" here...I found your blog a few weeks ago and have been enjoying your postings.
This one is wonderful, I too am a sucker for animals and have rescued quite few myself (including my current "fur-baby"). I'm so glad she was not sent to market and think maybe that owner should be sent out into the cold to fend for himself for a while!?

Happy Thanksgiving!!

cornbread hell said...

i don't mean to be a killjoy, but isn't "market" her eventual fate? it's not like people raise 'em for the fabric, is it?

purple-power said...

Well I'm a city girl - I grew up in NY and spent most of my life there so wildlife for me is mostly squirrels. We didn't even have cockroaches or mice - that's how deprived we were!

But how could you not love a face like hers? And her devotion to her calf?

Annie said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you too Robyn!

Robin, I think you have the right idea for the owner.

Rick, sure, in the beef cattle industry, that is where they end up. Eventually. The males of the species much sooner than the females, usually. To me, her worth was in her thriftyness, her mothering abilities. Those genetics are valuable to a cattle person. In my mind, she had much more value as a breeding cow than a market cow. I suppose beef hide could be considered fabric? I know I romanticized the whole incident too, because of what happened afterwords, but that part of the story hasn't been told yet.

Purple, I cannot even imagine a life in NYC.

cornbread hell said...

touché, annie. you're quite right.

rilera said...

How's your Mom doing Annie?