There have been plenty of devilish arrows coming at us over the course of a week, from various places and situations in our life under our roof. I’ll give credit to that – as the support behind all the ebbing of emotions, which erupted come the late afternoon of our day we shared a week ago, with our Vet administering Annual Care to our Irish Dexter Cattle.
But I’ve not reached the end answer to a few circumstances. In some ways – perplexed and confused. I’ll take it as part of the process. We have a bit of time before making that final choice.
I’ve grown close to this cow. She allows me to walk around her in the alley of a barn. I tend to score a lot of points in her book with, “ Thank you, Cora. “ That is – until it comes to touching and girdle-tight places.
She’s a Jumper. I was blown away when I saw her jump over the stall door in the barn a few days after she arrived. She wasted no time looking for the ‘ out ‘ she’d seen Bruce take ( due to an argument I lost out on ) over a gap left between the gate and chute.
I know that will never happen again. To begin with – that chute won’t even be placed there at that gate again. Note to Cows: “ Mom is NOT the Moon! “
There is a mere hairline that divides the tightest of hands-on bonding with Cora. She was willing to jump over me. But she just can’t seem to find the courage to trust breaking that hairline to let me touch her – brush her – halter and/or lead her.
This is very dangerous for me. I’d push my weapon to fight the failure – were it a blessing of about another foot in height in my favor – and 20 years of youth restored. At 4’ 11” and turning 54 years of age this year – along with spending most of the time alone when I tend to these cattle…
Cora dropped our ‘ Chondro King ‘ last year. Killian was her very first calf. And he has flat-dab stolen both our hearts. He has everything wonderful about him. He even steps down in water fights that he starts with me – let’s me win! He’s a sweetheart. Those eyes of his give away that disposition of melting right back down to a baby’s tenderness when you brush him.
And then a negative genetic flaw just has to appear – strong enough to afflict integrity within the bloodline. Breeding him is out of the question. Heartbreaking.
So many good qualities of traits in both these animals leave me feeling as if I’m standing at a fork in the road. Do I dare weigh pros and cons?
For Killian – there is only one unknown factor that gets in our way. We do not know – if or how much – pain – hosts off this genetic flaw with the clawfoot on his front feet. This is a strong issue for us, since his stature carries most of his weight on the front. We have no selfishness within us to ignore the possibility; not for Killian – nor any offspring that could be afflicted down the line.
Cora is expected to drop this year’s calf around May 3. She is bred to Killian’s Sire. We have chosen to let that event hold a few answers to some burning decisions we must make about her.
Attempting to bring a brood cow into our plans is not far from trying to shove round pegs into square holes. It is asking a lot of her, considering the fact that she came from open spaces since the day of her birth. She’d never seen a barn stall until she came here – much less been kept secured inside such.
Today – she will walk inside the stall and visit – as long as the door is left open.
But she has become quite comfortable with tucking away in the alley of the barn at the onset of bad weather. In fact – she’s always the first one at the gate – waiting and watching the back door of our home!
Ahhh, but she’s always the first one at the gate for Suppertime, too!
This year’s Annual Care visit with our Vet was not fruitful for Cora. At the end of the day – we were not able to deworm her with the others, nor give her immunizations.
Half our photos tend to show off ‘ proud artwork ‘ by our cattle in their paddocks ( mounds of manure high enough to make African Army Ants jealous ). But I can promise you – we are anal ( no pun intended ) about keeping our paddocks picked up. We’ve had no issues of any sort of illness, beyond pollen allergies. And we’re religious about keeping water and feed troughs sanitized.
So, Cora’s health is no strong issue for us. She’ll be given rations of Safeguard after we get her separated from Artist, just before she’s due to calve.
2012 was a giant year of accomplishments for us. But we do not count that year as the ‘ first go-round ‘ in this new journey we’re venturing through. For us – a full circle will only come when we have the first calves drop on our place that will be sired by Artist.
With that said – there are a lot of things we have to observe and consider. Priorities with Artist come into play, very strongly. A strong aspect to those choices and decisions have a lot to do with carrying on proper measures and respect for the integrity of his breeding.
There was a farm that put a lot of hard work into reaching the point in their breeding program to have such a wonderful specimen as Artist show up. That deserves to be met – and will be – with only the best efforts of combining some up-breeding with hopes for only improving the bloodline.
Jumpers – Clawfoot – issues.
Bruce jumped through the gap at the chute, as well – however. I’m still laughing ( now ) every time I think about the sight of him going ‘ chicken ‘ on us behind a 3-foot fence at the coop, after he jumped inside the chicken yard!
Bruce was 5 months old when he came here. I have worked with him and Artist – a lot. Once we had his halter and a lead rope on ( and Dwayne pulled up that little bitty 3-foot fence ) Bruce walked beside me all the way across our yard – into and across Artist’s paddock – and back inside the little yard at the barn, before giving me even the slightest trouble as we walked through the chute.
That is what I’m looking for in these cattle.
I have seen enough to know I will never see that disposition in Cora or Patty. Both girls brought 6-month-old babies when they came here. I can halter and lead both babies into a chute.
I need to see what comes from the 2 calves due in the next several weeks, from this second round of breeding from the other bull. I need to see what it takes to go through this round of working with babies and moms from birth. I need to see if there is any difference in disposition when I’ve been there from birth; and if so, how much.
We need to see how these 2 brood cows interact with us after these babies are born. We need to see if they’ll be willing to let us handle the babies for any treatment and training, etc.. Once again – this plays into the strong adjustments they’ve had to make with their surroundings.
Many people could be brushing me off about now, laughing with their opinion. “ For Pete’s sake, they’re just cows! Let ‘em be! “ My cows can be ‘ just cows ‘ for them. I’m alright with that.
Most people prefer putting cows out on a pasture and not handling them anymore than the bare minimal, as brood stock for the freezer. I think that’s fine for them. I see nothing wrong with that plan. For us – we prefer hands-on with livestock.
And anyone that knows me – knows one certain rule I have always maintained about animals. I do not keep animals unfit for children. I’m known for having put animals down that were not fit for children.
That rule is the line in the sand that determines which way everything goes with these cattle. They go into the pastures. They may go for sale to a breeder. Or they go into the freezer.
The hardest part is the length of time it takes to get from point to point! Somehow – we manage to have our own babies within a 9-month gestation period. And 18 years can fly by like there was never any tomorrow. Yet – these cattle go through the same gestation period. And 4 years feels like an Eternity!
A lot, and a long time. Both to endure, before we see what Artist brings to this world!
But I have faith. No different than our common Human version of conception – I am hoping Mother Nature will prepare us as we go… waiting along the way.