Update on Ealaiontoir’s Seamus – Our Bull Calf for Sale

Photo taken 9-20-2014

Photo taken 9-20-2014

As of today – halter training has been going wonderful!  Seamus is learning how to behave while tied.  We are now working on smaller issues – such as standing still when told to stop walking.  One thing that’s helped quite a bit – has been to leave the bucket of cookies sitting on a fence post at the corner where we spend the least of our time.  The message we want him to understand is that the cookies come after he does what we want.

He’s now hooked on the cookies.  Now comes the time when he has to learn that they’re not feed.  He can’t just stand in front of us and charm us with his beautiful self to get a cookie.  Little by little – we’ve progressed from getting a cookie for each and every little thing he’s done on que – to accomplishing several tasks before receiving a cookie.

Eventually – the goal should be to get him learn that good boys get 3 cookies for good sessions.

He’s been learning the words – ‘Back’ – ‘Open the door’ – ‘Close the door’ – for the past few days – during training for going in and out of doorways.   I can tell he’s plugged in.  He will even step back and/or stop to give me room for opening and/or closing the barn doors and gates.  I’m now able to tell him to move ‘back’ from anywhere – for any reason.  And he moves back.  Looking for a cookie.  Of course!

But here’s the good thing about Seamus – regarding that part.  Seamus is willing to complete the task before looking for the cookie.  I’ve seen quite a few – young and old – that won’t budge until they get the cookie – or – see the cookie(S).

This tells me we have a Bull Calf that is willing to work with the handler.  He is willing to take the first step.  He is willing to trust.

Most important to follow through.  Never lie to him.  Promise a cookie.  You better follow through after he does his part.  Not easy to get all that trust back after you lie.  And you will need this more than words can say – once he’s able to knock over a John Deere Tractor Mower!

Even off the lead rope – this little guy is so sweet and wonderful.  He has no qualms about running up to you and standing beside you.  He loves for me to stand on his left or right side with my arm across his back and pat him on the opposite side.  We’re able to walk up to him and pat him while he’s laying down without him jumping up to escape.

Had to stand behind the barn door, just to get a photo of his face!  He kept coming up and nosing the camera!

Had to stand behind the barn door, just to get a photo of his face! He kept coming up and nosing the camera!

He’s even more lovable than his Daddy was at the same age.  And that’s been a shocker for us to believe.

Be sure to check out the Sale Page for more information on Seamus.  We’ve added a Contact Form on that page for those interested in taking him home!

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New Bedroom for The Man of The House

A wish is coming true for me!  Construction began September 16th – on a new bedroom for Artist.  I’m so excited for him!  It’s good size – 18’x18’.

 

artist-bedroom1It felt so wonderful to see those first posts go in!  Irish Dexter Cattle are known for their resilience during inclement weather.  However – very high winds and heavy rain are an issue with them.  And it’s been a real thorn in my side – watching our Herd Sire endure from under the 3 Cedars.

 

artist-bedroom2I find it so amazing – the amount of time it can take for a hired crew to build something like this – compared to how quickly and thoroughly this wonderful husband I’m married to is able to get it done.  Of course – he does get a little help from his ever-so-reliable ‘Go-fer Assistant’ – in between running down to the basement to deal with laundry – out to the paddock for daily halter training – feeding – barn cleaning – mowing – vacuuming inside the house – cooking – all the other chores.  And somebody has to do the grocery shopping – as well as all the other running around!

When you cut out all the other chores – and you calculate the actual time to the project – I’d say there has been approximately 15 hours put in – so far.  And that includes time for picking up all the lumber in Lenoir City – as well as ordering and picking up the metal roofing in Vonore.

Digging holes for setting in the posts is always a pain when the job isn’t suitable enough for bringing out the big gun on the tractor.  And for this project – Dwayne ran into a serious layer of pink marble.  But he conquered – with that hand-held post-hole digger!

The challenge has been constructing the shelter around the webbed wire fencing and hotwire…

 

artist-bedroom3

Along with a Bull in the vicinity.  (I’ll explain the filth in a second…)

Artist has been really well behaved.  I managed to preoccupy him with his feed bunker for a bit.  Naturally – having an entire paddock for space wasn’t enough for him.  He reached the point where an over-abundant urge erupted.  Strong desire muscled his attention to see what would happen if he shoved the bunker into the ladder – where Dwayne was standing upon – while operating an electric nail gun.

 

playin-n-dirtHis revenge of choice when I took the bunker away from him – playing in the dirt.  He knows I complain about having a dirty face.

We have this ritual where he digs his head into his hay – just to have me scratch it off his face.  Lately – it’s been about scratching to loosen up all the DE from that curl on his face.  He loves for me to dump it all over him when the flies come around.  He just doesn’t like it trying to build a compost mound on his face!

We had to quit at Crunch Time last night.  We’ll get the last 2 sheets of metal on the roof this morning.  But Dwayne heads back for another round of his shift at work.  So – we’ll be ordering the metal for the walls – picking that up – along with more posts for a gate.

 

artist-bedroom4 The hardest part will come when we get far enough along for pulling the fence and hotwire – and revamping the gate between Artist’s paddock and the little yard where we keep the weanlings.

Gonna be a trick.

It’s a matter of – a Bull.

But we have a plan!

 

artist-bedroom5Finishing this project will just have to wait for the next round of days off.  But Artist will be able to rest under 8′ x 18′ of the roof of his new bedroom if we get any heavy rain – in the meantime.

I think he’ll have enough space in there for a whole Harem!

 

 

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Irish Dexter Home-school Time at Our House!

Aon ready for class!

Aon ready for class!

I can’t tell you how many shots I had to trash, just to get this one.  And it’s rough!   Lately – it is a fight to take photos of Aon.  He won’t stand still – comes to me wherever I try standing to get a shot!  Seems to have become more intense since being separated from his Mom.

But Dwayne helped me get a lead-rope on him this morning.  That’s not been such an easy feat with Aon.  It’s required running him into a barn stall and pinning him against the wall with a remnant of plywood.  And we’ve noticed something good about this.  Everything we’ve done to him while using this method has pertained to his Control Halter – making adjustments; Or like this morning – clasping the lead-rope to his halter.  It’s never caused him any pain.  So basically – he just submits.

Putting the lead-rope on him gave me some back-up.  He stops when he steps on the lead-rope.  They usually do.  As usual for me – I partake of the big rule – “Seize the moment!

Ta Da!  Those poor ropes take a beating from hooves, feet... and a few other things!

Ta Da! Those poor ropes take a beating from hooves, feet… and a few other things!

There are many little issues that the lead-rope training is going to help –  where every calf is concerned.  In Aon’s case – He’s now going to learn how to “walk with Granny” on a lead-rope – rather than follow behind or beside while Seamus is “walking with Granny” on the lead-rope.

Granny?”  That’s me.  I decipher with the babies from the day they’re born.  They learn to recognize who is who – right away.  Their Dam – ‘Mama.’  Dwayne – ‘Paw-Paw.’  Artist (their Sire) – ‘Daddy.’  Me -‘Granny.’

 

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Amazing to see how different he behaves with the lead-rope.

Both of these calves were born this past spring.  Aon was born on May 15th.  Seamus was born on June 6th.  Already – I only need to say – “Go see Paw-Paw.”  They take off to find Dwayne – no matter where they’re standing – or – where he may be standing.

I have a Carly Simon moment every time I look at this photo.

I have a Carly Simon moment every time I look at this photo.

This can pay off down the road – HUGE – when you are communicating with a 1000 lb. Bull.  It works like a charm for us with Artist!  (I know.  He’s so vain.)

... and I mean.... anything!

… and I mean…. anything!

The lead-rope is being left clasped to Aon’s Control Halter.  Of course – we use old ropes for the training.  The ropes take some pretty rough trips through some – pretty rough stuff – at times.

It would be very easy for Aon to learn he has the upper-hand with being able to kick me stupid – if I didn’t take the time to keep him pre-occupied with other positive training – first.  And above all else – each little accomplishment is met with a cookie.

The calves love the Apple Cookies.  And yes - their the same cookies for horses.  Perfectly fine for cows!

The calves love the Cookies with Apple in them. And yes – they’re the same cookies for horses. Perfectly fine for cows!

You can teach them to do just about anything for a cookie!  But first – you need to spend time conning them into becoming familiar with the cookies.  The goal is to turn ‘em into Cookie Addicts.

From there – I choose my battles with the cookies.  They become my weapons.  If I want a really well-behaved bull or cow – I train them to understand that they get a cookie for doing good things I want them to do.  I also train them to understand “bad cows/bulls don’t get cookies.  Only good cows/bulls get cookies!”

The look on his face when I busted him... priceless.  Daddy's face after having to walk out of a meeting at work and come to fix Artist's mess... not so priceless.

The look on his face when I busted him… priceless. Daddy’s face after having to walk out of a meeting at work and come to fix Artist’s mess… not so priceless.

When a Bull has busted your fencing – it’s just not a day that he should be receiving one single cookie.  Period.  And he should be made very aware of that fact.  “If Mama ain’t happy – ain’t nobody happy.

For the time being – Aon can’t be trusted enough to stand beside him with my back facing his rear quarters.  I stand with my right shoulder at the 2 on the clock – left shoulder at the 7.  Eyes are always keeping the whole scene in check.

All it took was a single moment of catching his Mom kicking out when she wasn’t getting her way with me.  He was only a week or so in age.  And April became The Devil’s Daughter as soon as she dropped this first calf of hers.  We’ve gone through a lot of work with her since.  But that’s a whole different story!

The problem was – Aon’s Mom has always thrown her hissy fits in life.  She kicks at and out.  Anytime she’s ever touched me with her hoof – it’s been very light.  Her kick is just a message to let me know she’s not happy.  She’s never wanted to do damage to me.  Well – sans the first 2 months of Aon’s life – anyway.  But a brand new baby cannot comprehend messages.

Aon saw the action.  He took it at face value.  And every child wants to be the best – at anything they do – to please their parents.  Right?!  Yeah.  Well.  The little fart almost took out my knee-cap inside the stall one morning!  I was afraid he was coming back for more before I could make it to the other side of that stall door.  And getting out of there seemed to take – forever.  My poor knee was sent on a visit to Hell!  And it was sending painfully vivid artwork to my brain!

I don’t want Aon kicking me when he doesn’t want to walk beside me.  I want him looking forward to getting a cookie when he does walk beside me.

Ever see photos or video of the kids in the most serious tug-o-war with a calf that won’t budge?  Ever see adults in that same scenario – dragging the poor thing – because it won’t walk on its own?

That’s a “No-No-No-NO! Just the wrong thing to do.

That’s the same thing I tell all our calves when they’re doing anything wrong – shaking my finger side to side in front of their face – and shaking my head at the same time.  Imagine trying to drag a 1000 lb. Bull like that.  Yeeaaaah….  You can forget about that.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Aon is only a steer calf.  But the days will come when we need to lead him into a trailer to head to the butcher.  We need to be able to get him into a chute for various treatments.  From time to time – he will need to be led to a different area – without the rest of the herd – for some reason.  You just never know what may come up – that can make you feel so grateful for putting in the time for training.

Winter coats already coming on.  Photo taken 9-12-2014

Winter coats already coming on. Photo taken 9-12-2014

Seamus shares the same paddock with Aon.  And he’s a Bull Calf.  He needs fairness in his yard.  Both boys get the same treatment if I want this Bull Calf to remain well-mannered.

One of our ADCA members gave me a very valuable tool – which has cut out a whole lot of the long path that I went through with Artist.

As soon as I can get a combination lead-rope around their heads after they’re born – I begin training with some other techniques for getting them used to being around me.  (I had to use combos for lambs on Seamus!)  But the heavy time spent on training comes at weaning.  We choose to wean our babies at 3 months of age – or shortly after.

Once they have the lead-rope on and they’re out in the paddock – I take hold of the lead rope.  Right hand holds the clasp of the lead-rope.  I always tie 2 knots in the rope – first one about 2 feet from the clasp – second one about 2 feet from the first knot.  Left hand sits at the first knot closest to the clasp – while holding the excess rope.

I begin by pulling just enough until the rope is tight.  I WAIT – without saying a word – for that calf to take one step forward.  As soon as that calf takes that single step forward – I RELEASE the tightness in the rope – and praise the calf.  When the calf becomes willing to take more than one step – I let it happen!  As soon as the calf digs his hooves in and balks – I tighten the rope just enough – wait – quietly.

I Release the tightness as soon as the first step forward comes – allowing the calf to take as many step as they’re willing.  And at that point there – I praise them when I see that the light has come on – through their eyes – their ears – and their muscle action.  Their eyes will look at you – ears will perk forward – muscle will relax but roll right into stepping.  It’s as if they’re a little kid saying “You want me to do it like this?”  Once the calf takes the initiative to take more than one step – we go through several more rounds of that good fortune.

And then we move the training up a notch.  I do NOT praise them if they stop when I want them to continue walking.  I say ‘no‘ – tighten up on the rope.  And then I wait for cooperation.

Eventually – I work my way up to getting them to walk from one corner of the paddock to another.  Once they make it to the other corner – I train them to stop with one of the buzz words I use.  “Whoah.”  When they begin to stop at that corner after I’ve used that word – I praise the calf and give them a cookie.  They gain understanding that they’ll get a cookie if they go to the corners.  From there – I gradually work them up to making a full round before praising them and giving them a cookie.

There are so many times when I find myself out in the middle of a paddock – needing a cow to come with me to a different area for some reason.  And I don’t have a lead-rope.  That’s where the advantage has kicked in for us – from choosing to have all our cattle wear Thomas’ Control Halters.  They are custom-designed and sized for Irish Dexter Cattle.  And they are so worth the investment.  With the training each of them have had as babies – here at our place – we only need to hold on to the ring for clasping the lead-rope.  They walk anywhere with us!

*** Let me be clear about the training I describe on this blog:

We raise Irish Dexter Cattle.  They are nowhere near the size of standard breeds of cattle.  While they do possess an equal amount of strength as standard breeds – they are extremely DOCILE – compared to other breeds of cattle.  This breed also possesses a high rate of memory retention.  While some of these methods may work for standard cattle – others may not.

Always make sure you do your research about your chosen breed!

Posted in Aon, FF Freedom's Artist, PF No Foolin' April, Seamus, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Weaning Time… Uuuuggghhh!

 

The first day Aon and Seamus shared time together!

The first day Aon and Seamus shared time together!

Weaning our calves began 4 days ago.  And I’m… fairly sure we’ve managed to tick off a few neighbors.  But things could be much worse.

We could have 50 calves and Dams trying to wake the dead – instead of 2 and 2.

 

Photo taken 8-2-2014

Photo taken 8-2-2014

Seamus will be ready for heading to a new home by mid-October!  He is going to be a really wonderful Bull for some very lucky family.  You can read more about him right here!

Please feel free to contact me through the comments section below this posting – if you’re interested in purchasing Seamus – 0r – have any questions.  Be sure to leave your email address – so I can get back to you.  All communications will be kept private for your benefit.

Photo taken 9-12-2014

Photo taken 9-12-2014

We were hoping for the first week of October – until Cora decided to snap the middle finger of my right hand with the ring in her Control Halter, last Monday.

I remain very vigilant with showing her the slow progress of my healing.

 

Photo taken 9-12-2014

Photo taken 9-12-2014

My lean hopes for being able to break stride of bad habits imprinted on Aon by his Dam – April – are showing some great promise!  Aon loves to learn. He hates to be alone.  But he loves to learn!

Photo taken on 9/12/2014.

Photo taken on 9/12/2014.

He stands at the fence and takes his turn trying to scream his red head off.  But he likes to learn!

2014-9-12-aon3He learned a lot from his Mama – who continues with her guard up (in the background) – just in case anybody really is trying to murder her baby.  But did I mention – he loves learning new things?  And he learns fast!

"No, Aon.  Time to be a big boy, now.  Sorry!"

“No, Aon. Time to be a big boy, now. Sorry!”

Well.  All but the fact that his every attempt to convince Peta that we’re torturing him is mute.  It’s not working with getting me to cave in to letting him go back to his Mama – either.

But I have not endured one single kick or headbutt from him – since his first day away from April.  And the light came on for the buzzwords, “beside Granny,’ as well.  Already – we have progressed to letting Granny stand beside us while rubbing the backline.  I’ll take that as a win for the claim that he is – learning!

I know.  Even the banding won’t make a difference.  As soon as the little fart doesn’t get his way – he’ll go full throttle.  Butt in the air – both rear feet kicking like there’s no tomorrow.  And then the big turn for the hardest ram he can muster with his head!

Sadly – he just might discover how tough the barn wall is.  He’ll be too busy to see me stepping out of the line of fire.  ;)

2014-9-12-seamus2

So thrilled with these two boys!  They both have the same Sire.  Their Dams are sisters – whom share the same Dam – but different Sires.

And here’s the funny part.  Both Dams are like twins.  One is the very sweetest.  One could be a direct descendent of Satan, Himself.

That’s one of the reasons why Aon (the red head) has been banded.  We’re hoping it’s just the imprint from him being April’s first calf.  If not – we’ll try pulling the next calf 3 days after it’s born, and see if that makes any difference in disposition.

If that doesn’t help…

Last full day that Aon and April spent the whole day together.

Last full day that Aon and April spent the whole day together.

Well – it just may be up to how much Aon is willing to learn – now that Granny’s got her hands on him!

Posted in Aon, Good News!, Misc., PF No Foolin' April, PF Patriot's Cora, Seamus, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

It’s No Wonder That I Avoid Video Games

Sometimes, it's not such a great idea to hide behind Mama.

Sometimes, it’s not such a great idea to hide behind Mama.

I must say… it’s been a wild year for us during this year’s spring calving season.  I thank God, for giving me the fortitude to keep records.  And every year – so far – we are learning that – the learning will never end.

And I’m okay with that.  What I’m not okay with is – a constant battle with getting my husband to understand a few things.  Two most important facts…

Cows are not airplanes.  They do not sit around waiting for parts.

Whether you have 2 cows – or – 1000… they all have a brain.  And they DO NOT all share a brain.  One brain does not come as part of the deal when you buy cattle.

And if you don’t learn how to think ahead of cows – they’re gonna learn how to laugh.  He needs to know they’ll be laughing at him.  Not me.

I prefer walking back inside the house and slamming the door.

I thank God for my willingness to be flexible with brains that depend on me to fill their water troughs and serve the hay and grain rations.  (Hubs does not drink from a water trough.)  We’re all living.  We’re all learning.  We’re all growing.  Some of us are developing into our maturity.  I’m beginning to understand the visions of a beach and a young handsome male that can’t speak English bringing ice-cold drinks with little umbrellas – mixed with lots of liquor.

And if I could shit family members to join in and help us with this prize we’re beating Hell out of ourselves to reach – we’d ALL be in our glory.  Sadly - it’s more realistic to be that Goose laying the Golden Eggs.

So far – up to this point – and according to my calendar…

PF No Foolin' April - 32 days after birthing her first calf. Photo taken June 17, 2014.

PF No Foolin’ April – 32 days after birthing her first calf. Photo taken June 17, 2014.

I am seeing that First-Time Heifers go a 30-day cycle before beginning their 21-day cycles for Hot Heat necessary for breeding.  (Thank you, Miss April.  And Artist thanks you very much, too!)

She almost looks happy about having Bling just like April!

She almost looks happy about having Bling just like April!

I am seeing that cows having their 3rd calves go right into a 21-day cycle for their Hot Heats necessary for breeding.  (And, thank you, Miss Cora – from Artist and ourselves!)

Of course it could be that cows having their 2nd calves do the same thing.  But I wasn’t paying attention enough last year.  I was a frantic MESS – dealing with “First-Time Calf Granny Syndrome.”

I’ll pay better attention after Miss April has her next calf – which we now expect around 4-14-2015!  And according to the Irish Dexter Gestational Calculator we use – Miss Cora is due to have her 4th calf around 4-25-2015!

As with all things – plans should be scratched on a board used with chalk.  But to avoid absolute disappointment – one must keep a chalkboard eraser – and be willing to use such.

Artist’s very first offspring – a bull calf – was not to be left intact.

Aon - 33 days old - Photo taken June 17, 2014

Aon – 33 days old – Photo taken June 17, 2014

Unfortunately – it became extremely obvious that Mr. Aon extracted the nasty disposition we’ve been able to trace back to his Dam’s Dam.  Among other behaviors – Mr. Aon has exhibited his utmost pride in his talents with using his right rear leg for the purpose of removing human kneecaps.

Technically – Mr. Aon weighs less than 100 lbs. at this time.  However – we never maintain interaction with any of our animals under the guise of their current weights and ages.

Our 45 lb. bull calves are considered as being 1000 lb.+ beasts from the day they are born.  And their behavior is expected to fall in proper suit with a respectable relationship of meeting in the middle with us.  Any type of physical forceful movement that would be considered violent at 1000 lbs. – is acceptable in only 1 area of our program.  The Freezer.

Mr. Aon will be reaching the goal of – our freezer.

However – we have had – yet – a wonderful ray of sunshine spread down on us this year!

Seamus - (Photo taken June 17, 2014.)

Seamus – (Photo taken June 17, 2014.)

Miss Cora’s calf – “STC Ealaiontoir’s Seamus” has had tail hairs pulled and all testing paperwork sent in to U.C. Davis.  He will be tested for Parentage – PHA – CHONDRODRYSPLASIA – COLOR – DUN – and MILK genotyping.

We have hit the nail on the head with this little boy.  Seamus is a lover!  Even through the de-horning – this gorgeous boy has maintained exhibiting the extraction of the very best of the good-natured disposition in – both – his Sire and Dam!  We are so tickled beyond belief!

Both our boys have been de-horned.  Aon was banded.  Cora and April have now been bred for 2015 calves.

Miss Cora’s Mastitis has dissipated.  We are to call Dr. Kate when it’s time to wean Seamus from Cora – so she can administer a proper assistant for drying her up after diagnosis and treatment for Mastitis.  This will help assure us of minimal – if any – issues in the future.  Cora has just become such a wonderful Herd Matriarch!  I can rub all over her and brush her.  She loves it!  I’m able to get a lead rope on her and fight with her to the chute – so far.

And – “Mama always wins!

But any further training has been shoved back on the calendar.

At this time – I am scheduled for consult with a spinal neurosurgeon – regarding issues with Vertebrae L1 thru L5.  And just as we get going into this phase of resolving my back issues…

20140714_183816[1]

I wake up with sprained ligaments in my left ankle – according to my doctor.  I’m telling everyone that Dwayne did it.  He’s the only one that sleeps with me.  And this doctor swears it happened.

Seriously – I began to question her abilities as a doctor as soon as she made the diagnosis.  But she spent time explaining to us how this type of injury can occur and not present itself until hours and hours later – much like whiplash and such – after a car wreck – etc..

At any rate – I’m screwed.  I’m in a splint for 2 weeks.  If I get lucky – she’ll give me the green light for moving on to the boot.  At that time I’ll begin “ABC Exercises.”  (It’s where you write the ABC’s with your toes.)  Fortunately – I still had my crutches and my boot down in the basement – from when I broke my right foot in 2003.

I’ve been warned this could take a while.  And it really sucks.  Dwayne has the full load – while having to carry on with his full-time job that has a shift schedule that rolls on the calendar.  AND – those males at work have just informed him that they’re shoving him over to Graveyards in the middle of August.

It’ll be me – the obnoxiously noisy dogs that raise hell every time a grasshopper jumps.  And “Misty” will be right beside me at all times – too – of course.

I’m just hoping I’ll be able to start wearing the boot on my foot soon.  I’ll be able to get to the garden and salvage as much as I can – hopefully.  We had to sell all our chickens to one of Dwayne’s co-workers.

20140626_150320[1]

Canning from our garden this year is out – as well.  But Dwayne has promised that we’ll hit the Farmer’s Markets to get enough for canning – even if we have to drive to the far north side of Knoxville.

I’m so glad we have plans for buying a place elsewhere in the future.  We’ve spent lots of time discussing what we’re looking for.  And we won’t be moving there alone – for sure.  We have special plans for that – as well – so we can follow through on our last goal – of passing our little farm down to somebody that will have earned the right to such a blessing.

All our hard work will NEVER land in the hands of greedy bankers.

Posted in Aon, Good News!, PF No Foolin' April, PF Patriot's Cora, Seamus, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Friends ‘Til The End – Together For The First Time!

Aon (red) and Seamus (black) burning off the excitement of running through the paddock together!

Aon (red) and Seamus (black) burning off the excitement of running through the paddock together!

We’d administered the last dose of Spectramast into Cora’s front right udder quarter on Monday evening.  I just couldn’t take another moment of guilt.  She’d been stuck in the confines of that little yard and the barn for way too long, as far as I was concerned.

She needed a real dish of grass… and more room!  And these two boys were not getting any younger!  They needed to have those days of little boys getting into mischief together. So… Granny set the doors wide open!

Cora will do one or the other… dry up or ramrod Seamus into eating off all 4 quarters! Today runs the course of the final hours for the 72-hour restriction after administering the med.  I’m sure Mother Nature has held on to oversight… from the look of things.  Girl looks totally lopsided.  And all I can do is laugh!  For now, anyway.

If ugly comes back to badly… we’ll just put her back in the little yard and try again!

Seamus - (Photo taken June 17, 2014.)

Seamus – 18 days old – Photo taken June 17, 2014.

But Seamus will begin punching through the growth spurts… now that he has open spaces.  And with that opportunity comes a veracious appetite!

 

Aon - 33 days old - Photo taken June 17, 2014

Aon – 33 days old – Photo taken June 17, 2014

Aon is in his glory!  He just loves having somebody his own age and size to hang out and play with!  But he’s also gained access to his Daddy.  More about THAT below!

 

April (1st-Time Heifer) on left.  Cora (post 3rd calf birth).  Photo taken June 17, 2014

April (1st-Time Heifer) on left. Cora (post 3rd calf birth). Photo taken June 17, 2014

Cora and I had, already, had a little chit-chat.  I put all I could into reassuring her that she had my full blessing to go into that paddock and square April up about who would be Boss!

 

PF No Foolin' April - 32 days after birthing her first calf. Photo taken June 17, 2014.

PF No Foolin’ April – 32 days after birthing her first calf. Photo taken June 17, 2014.

April may be pretty, but…

 

April and Cora sparring for the Throne!  Photo taken June 17, 2014.

April and Cora sparring for the Throne! Photo taken June 17, 2014.

You can’t tell her anything.  This bull-headed wench has to learn everything the hard way!  It took Cora less than 5 minutes to help April get her head back up on her shoulders… correctly!

The normal expectations for re-introductions into the paddock were better than they could have been.  Yay!  Since we’re not able to work on construction for creep-feeding, yet (outside work schedule)… I couldn’t see any reason not to provide them with all the shade possible, while we have the opportunity during these 90*-plus temperatures that are driving us all nuts. I opened up both doors of the barn and let them all have access to both, the paddock and the little yard.  But I had a special little hope that came with this decision.  ;)

I had promised Artist that he would get to see Aon as soon as he was born.  April became a hormonal nightmare after birthing Aon.  I found myself with a Heifer I had never met before.  And I will not lie.  I did not like this nasty female that appeared as soon as that calf hit the ground.  And she had other plans – refusing to go into the little yard.

Artist was ticked.  It took some serious time calming him down.  Sweet-talk… treats… he just was not having any of it.  He’d take the alfalfa cubes into his mouth, look at me and, deliberately, spit ‘em out on the ground.

I managed to get him to understand that it wasn’t me keeping him from his baby.  It was April being mean.  I saw the light come on.  That dead stare went right for April.  But I didn’t expect all the yelling to get worse and feel like it had no end!

And then he heard… ” I promise!

All our cattle know that I follow through on those 2 words.  He shut up long enough to give me a chance to say it, again.  ” I will make sure you get to see that baby when he’s a little bigger.  She won’t always have him.  I promise. ”  The ‘stink-eye‘ switched to that sweet little “coo” that he does while holding his head down and looking up at me.

Daddy meeting his 2nd son! Photo taken June 6, 2014.

Daddy meeting his 2nd son! Photo taken June 6, 2014.

The compromise came when Cora ended up in the little yard.  Artist was able to be right there (divided by the gate and fence) when Cora birthed Seamus!

They say this breed possesses the highest rate of retention.  I don’t know about the highest rate.  But I do know that they have the intelligence to learn your words and tone of voice. I’ve even tried this with Aon, already.  And it worked!

It’s fun to teach them with words.  Tone of voice and a little bit of repetition… sticks forever!  With Aon, I chose to teach him everybody’s names.  I’d say his name, first.  I’d point to who I wanted him to look at and say their name until he watched me point… looked at that cow/person… and looked back at me as I said their name again.

Once I had his attention… I’d point at him and say his name, then point at one other and say their name.  I’d go back to him in between all the others.  He knows his name.  I waited for the light to come on.  We’d go back and forth until he’d look back at me.  That’s when I’d know he had it.

After going through Auntie Cora, Seamus, Paw-Paw, Granny…. enough that I felt he’d clicked… I called his name.  When he looked at me, I asked… “Aon, where’s Paw-Paw?”

He looked right at Dwayne!

They’re smarter than we give ‘em credit for being.  They’re wonderful Beings… when we give them that respect!  And it just makes raising ‘em that much more fun!

 

Posted in Aon, FF Freedom's Artist, PF No Foolin' April, PF Patriot's Cora, Seamus, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Benefits of a Dreaded Cull in a Small Herd

PF Patriot - aka - Patty

PF Patriot – aka – Patty

When Cora came to live with us in October, 2012 – she arrived with a red bull calf at her side (her first) and confirmed pregnant, due to drop her 2nd calf in early May, 2013.  But – she also arrived with her Dam, PF Patriot, whom also arrived with a heifer at her side (her second) and confirmed pregnant, due to drop her 3rd calf in late April, 2013.

Both cows were Brood Cows, never having any halter training until some minimal prior to Dwayne picking them up from the previous owner, rarely even touched by a human hand. From the very beginning – it was obvious that Patty took on a Herd Matriarch disposition, immediately.  She wasted no time showing us what we could expect from her in the future, from the very moment she was off-loaded from the trailer to a stall in the barn.  And red flags began showing up on a daily basis – until the day she departed.

There was something about Cora that told me we had a good chance with her fitting in very well – if – we got Patty out of the way.  Cora dropped her 2nd calf during the middle of a storm, trapped by the ramrodding of Patty who was determined she would not ‘ allow ‘ Cora to have her calf in the barn.  Just as I had feared… I was home alone.  I’d never been so close to a calf being born, even worse…collecting one out of storm to get to a dry stall inside a barn.

And when our neighbor came to help me load the calf into a utility wagon, there was a moment when I read so much in Cora’s eyes… as I headed to the barn with her brand new baby.  She wanted to follow me to the barn.  She even began following.  But Patty intervened with her nasty determination and forced Cora to go back to that far corner of the paddock.  It would be later that evening after Dwayne got home from work and we had more help arrive, before we would be able to help Cora get to the stall and reunited with her baby.

My mind was made up at that point.  Patty was not going to fit in with the herd.  She kept our entire place on edge, until we took her to butcher shortly after weaning her calf a few months after she dropped her own calf.  You could even feel the tension with our Bull.  But you could feel a huge blanket of calm and peace all over our place, as soon as everyone could no longer even hear Dwayne’s truck or the rattling of the trailer driving away with Patty.

(L to R) April - Artist - Cora Taken on 8-26-2013

(L to R) April – Artist – Cora
Taken on 8-26-2013

Still – we’ve walked a careful road with Cora, as she’s dealt with conflict in disposition.  The ‘Brood Cow‘ in her has remained.  But there’s been an obvious goal in Cora’s heart.  She’s wanted to be touched and pampered the same as all the others.  She would take Alfalfa cubes from our hands like it was nobody’s business.  But then… Cora is one of those cows that will never turn down food!  She’d follow me to the barn – IF – she saw the food in the bucket.  But not until she saw the food.  No fooling her with an empty bucket.

She began following along the fence as far as she could go this spring, as if she were grazing with us, whenever I’d lead April out to the open yard where she could graze on the early clover and grasses coming in better than in the paddocks, yet.  But it became more than obvious about a month before she calved… when she, deliberately, swung her butt around to trap me in a corner of her stall fast enough that I lost my balance and had no choice but to lean on her back hip to catch myself.  She didn’t even flinch a muscle, or, tighten a leg to prepare for initiating a kick.

In fact – she’s never kicked.  Period.

Even then… I just refused to push limits beyond touching her lightly every once in a while, mostly if I needed her to shift so I could clean an area inside her stall.  But I kept a close eye on her body language… her eyes… even her muscle movement.  When we both stood outside the little yard on that morning I awoke and found her standing there with Seamus… we both witnessed her walk to her calf and begin nudging him in the butt, getting him to step forward… toward me.  It was as if she were wanting us to come see her new baby.  And once we encouraged her to go inside her stall with the calf to get him away from flies, which were beginning to show up for the season, already… she had no problem letting Dwayne come into the stall… touch the calf… and even administer his bovine e.Coli oral suspension.  We were stunned!

And I guess the gates were just fully opened on the dam when the Mastitis came around. One step at a time to get her into the chute… using one tool after another… her calf, her ration… anything.

The 2nd day was harder.  After spending over 3 hours in the chute and not being let out until after 10:30pm… she wanted no part of that chute.  But she wasn’t happy with us taking Seamus out to the little yard, either.  Dwayne was able to get her into a combo halter/lead rope and we managed to get her into the chute well enough to close the back door.  With the help of our Vet… we finally managed to get her secured into the headgate.  Dwayne thought about it.  We decided to put a Dexter Control Halter on her while we had a chance.

It paid off, because the 3rd day was even harder.  The day before entailed needles.  She was given antibiotics, Banamine, and her annuals.  We were just cruel to her, and she’d decided there was no way she was going back into that chute.  I don’t think the tractor would have even been able to make that girl budge!  It was then… that the ‘Don’t touch Me‘ era with this girl disappeared.  She didn’t care.  Dwayne was able to touch her all over.  He brushed her.  He massaged her shoulders.  He prodded with a show stick.  He even tried intimidating her with a lawn rake… began scratching her back with the darn thing.  She LOVED it!  Started curling and moving a little back and forth… making sure to keep those feel planted solid, of course.

I ended up going back in to help.  Once again, she shocked us.  She let me hook the lead rope, turned with me and headed to the chute.  And once again, she balked when we got a couple feet near the chute.  But she knows my buzz words, “I promise.”  She looked me in the eye and we crept through the chute… one foot at a time.

We followed through with the promise.  And yesterday was the easiest day, so far.  Today – we’re moving the chute away from the barn door to let her out to graze.  She’s been without green grass.  We don’t want the other side of her bags to deplete.  Today’s challenge will be to get her to walk into the chute from out in the little yard.

Eventually – the goal is to be able to lead her through the barn to the little yard and into the chute… until we no longer have to milk her.  Hopefully, Seamus will be able to nurse on that left side.

seamusnursing2014-6-12

Culling Patty has been a wise decision.  It’s amazing to see all the transformation going on with Cora.  We expect her to keep that rule of not wanting to share her food.  But it’s been so worth having the joy of being able to help her become pampered like all the others.  Even more… she is really enjoying her experience with this new calf… even with the troubles from the Mastitis!

 

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Surprises… Bad – Good – and Thank You, Lord Jesus!

Miss Cora has become a Teacher’s Lesson Plan book for us.  And we’re the students.  Trust me!  I keep telling everyone we are green as goose poop.  But she’s doing all she can to knock that out of us.  ;)

cora-2014-6-9

The latest surprise wasn’t so grand.  I figured she’d birth a large calf when I saw her udder blow up overnight.  But it kept growing after he was born.  I noticed the calf was confused whenever he went to that side to nurse.  He kept going up under Cora’s right front… Leg.  He’d bump…and bump…until he’d get fed up and go back over to the other side.

The front and rear on the right side just never deflated.  After spending a whole day going out every couple hours and trying to guide him to the teats on the right side with no success… I became worried.  I called Dwayne at work and told him to be prepared to come home and deal with getting some help to get the problem resolved.

We have some of the most wonderful members in our region of the American Dexter Cattle Association!  With some wonderful help from a couple of members, we were headed into a better direction.  One in particular, Jennifer, arrived ready with everything she could think of that we might need.  But even she was a handed a surprise.  She jumped right in… milking Cora and getting the clogs free without a second thought!  She’d been into it for about 5 minutes before finding out she was milking a brood cow that had never been touched or milked.  :)  LOL!

Jennifer was working on the rear teat, almost finished up at this point.

Jennifer was working on the rear teat, almost finished up at this point.

Cora hung in there for over 3 hours (from the time we got her into the chute after Dwayne got home from work) while Dwayne and Jennifer took turns milking the 2 quarters.  All that milk from 2 teats… in that 2 gallon bucket!  (I distributed it around our fruit trees, later.)  I kept Cora’s attention redirected with her precious little 3-day-old bull calf… who was doing a fantastic job with his very unexpected…expedited lesson in halter training!

Our Vet came out the next day to give her an exam.  Treated her with some Banamine for a little bit of fever.  Took culture samples to send in for testing.  Milked her out, again, before cleaning with a sterile pad and squirting a tube of Spectramast into each of the 2 teats.  With her being her ‘Don’t touch me‘ self… we decided to grab the moment while our Vet was there and give Cora all her annuals, as well.

We had the task of getting her back into the chute for the next 3 days… to milk her out and treat the teats with the tubes of Spectramast.  Right.  LOL  The only thing on our side was the fact that we’d finagled getting the chute into the little yard and back up against the barn door… trapping Cora and her calf inside their half of the barn.  (That’s another story!) But the only way out was through the chute.

After all the needles she felt yesterday… Cora decided she was NOT going into that chute today.  We got all prepped.  Had to wait for pockets of air in between all the pockets of heavy rain.  Eventually…Dwayne went in for Seamus.  I tended to him while Dwayne tried getting Cora into the chute.  Nothing working.

Tied the calf up to the side of the chute and walked around to the other entrance and climbed over a corral panel to get to Cora’s side and help Dwayne.  It began raining.  Ran to get the calf and led him to outside the little yard where our Baler sits.  We hoped it would provoke Cora to forget and come into the chute looking for him.  Never happened.

In fact… she let Dwayne come back into that barn and start massaging her shoulders and back… and she STILL wouldn’t budge!  But that gave me an idea.  We tried a combo halter/lead rope.  Within several minutes… Dwayne had conned her until he had the combo on her.  But she wouldn’t let him come to her left side!!

I had to bring the calf back inside the little yard.  Tied him to the chute trailer where he’d be in the shade.  Walked through the chute to go back in the barn.  Got Cora to turn around.  Dwayne handed me the end of the combo.  He grabbed a cotton lead rope… which we tied to the nylon combo.  And I began leading her to the chute with Dwayne in front of me.  We came out into the little yard and began keeping the rope tight until she caved and crept all the way to the headgate.

Mama always wins!

Dwayne thought about going ahead and putting one of the Dexter Control Halters on her.  We got that out of the way before Dwayne began milking her out.  I brought Seamus up to Cora so they could be close to each other.  He’s gonna be a lover!  And a very smart one, at that!  Taught him a little game the other night.  And he remembered it today!  He walks up to his mama’s chest when she’s in the chute and nudges her when you tell him to “give mama some kisses!

Another round of storms began threatening to come in.  Dwayne got Cora all milked out. Got the tubes administered.  We got Cora backed out of the chute and back inside the barn. Dwayne led the baby back inside to be with Cora.  I cleaned up the mess outside… just before it began to shower again!

She almost looks happy about having Bling just like April!

She almost looks happy about having Bling just like April!

I went inside to get this shot of Miss Cora with her new ‘ Bling ‘ … while Dwayne was cleaning the chute… in the rain.  Just like a man… priorities!  LOL

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Meet Seamus!

” Seamus ” – born 6/6/2014

Dam – PF Patriot’s Cora

Sire – FF Freedom’s Artist

Well… my suspicions held correct.  We missed Cora’s Hot Heat in the month of August, 2013.  Little Seamus was born June 6, 2014… and not so little!

Cora and Seamus on the Left - April and Aon on the right.

Cora and Seamus on the Left – April and Aon on the right.

This makes for the second time we’ve witnessed Cora having rather large calves… from different Sires.  He’s only 2 days old… compared to Aon… who is already 24 days old in this photo taken on June 8,2014!

Dwayne was not able to weigh him.  But he figures he weighed about 10 more pounds than Aon, which would put him around 55lbs. at birth.  Cora birthed him outside the barn… in the little yard.  With flies coming on we chose not push our luck beyond encouraging her to relocate him to her barn stall.

We have been so surprised by his Mom!  She took absolutely no issue with Dwayne walking inside the stall and handling her calf… so he could administer the oral Bovine eColi. serum. Since then… We are allowed to love up on that baby… all we want!

Daddy meeting his 2nd son!

Daddy meeting his 2nd son!

He is so adorable!  Very long.  Very gentle.  Yet… very playful!

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Meet Our Herdsire’s Very First Progeny!

Meet Aon  (Irish spelling for ‘Ian’) !!

Aon2014-5-15

Born 5-15-2014

Sire – FF Freedom’s Artist

Dam – PF No Foolin’ April

He is absolutely precious!  Aon weighed only 45 lbs. at birth.  He’s red in color, and looks sooo much like his Daddy!!

We forgot to check and see if he is polled or horned.  And that will have to wait a bit.  His mother has taken on her mother’s disposition, and is just overboard on the ‘ Protective Mommy’ role right now.  Looking forward to being able to spend time halter training him as soon as we can get Mom to chill out!

We are so thrilled.  He’s so adorable!  Can hardly wait until Artist gets to see him for the very first time!

Cora is due on May 29th – with her 3rd calf – but her 1st with Artist.  We have a feeling she may go early, just like April.  So, we’re keeping her confined to the little yard and the barn.  Her stall is left open for her to come and go at free-will.  She doesn’t share food with others.  But she will gladly make herself at home eating the rations dished for others!  lol

Taken 5-16-2014 (Due with 3rd Calf on 5-29-2014)

Taken 5-16-2014
(Due with 3rd Calf on 5-29-2014)

Wow!  It’s been over a year since I last posted.  And believe me – there’s been a LOT going on around here.  For one thing – I had to have surgery on both hands in less than a year.

I had surgery on my left hand for Carpal Tunnel Release on July 16, 2013.  And then I had surgery on both hands on January 17, 2014.  Carpal Tunnel Release was done on the right hand.  And they had to go back to the left hand and do a Trigger Thumb Release.  That one had quicker healing.  But the pain following surgery was worse than the Carpal Tunnel Release.

We had 2 steer calves born last year.  We took 1 other steer, Killian and Patty to the meat packers.  Patty has been much nicer in the freezer.  ;)  More importantly – you could just feel all the tension go away around here.  Everybody relaxed.

It’s been a year of ‘Live and Learn’ while taking huge steps.  We’re even experimenting with leaving the horns on the 2 steers that were born last year.  Amazing how polite they are around us.  They’re very gentle and so lovable!

We dealt with Dwayne’s father passing away.  His grandmother passing away.  One of my uncles passed away.  All 3 were living in Texas.

It’s so difficult for us, when there’s only 2 of us handling things here at the house, while one of us continues a full-time job 38 miles away, with a schedule that rolls on the calendar.  One of us has to stay behind and take care of the animals, while the other travels for family situations.  But we manage.

The garden is in for this year.  We have 10 Rhode Island Reds, 12 Americauna Hens and 1 Americauna Rooster keeping egg production on a constant roll around here.  And we’re now getting ready to divide our hay field into 3 grazing areas, right after we get the first cutting of hay for this year.

In the meantime, we wait for Cora to go into labor.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to post an update on her new arrival, soon!

Have a great day!

 

 

Posted in FF Freedom's Artist, Good News!, PF No Foolin' April, Preparing For New Arrivals, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , | 8 Comments