Cows are like potato chips…May 29th, 2011 by Diane Fish
… you can’t have just one!
Eleanor is the newest edition to our little farm family. She is a 4 year old registered Jersey and joins Alexis (aka The Princess Cow) and her son, the Count (born 8-9-10) in the pasture. She is small for a Jersey but she is milking 4 gallons a day which is plenty for the house, the hogs and some cheese! Her temperament is affectionate and willing, which I can assure you isn’t always the case with cows, and even though she wasn’t halter broken she has learned to lead in record time.
Alexis, for all her wonderful attributes, has a couple of problems. She gets milk fever and ketosis at calving and we almost lost her last year. As a result to the rough start to her last lactation she has been really hard to breed back and get in calf. She also tends to have a serious drop in production late in lactation so she is only giving about 2 gallons a day. Right now the calf takes most of that. But she is a love bug and I REALLY like her!
When the new cow arrived I anticipated that there would be a bit of a power struggle in the pasture to see who was going to be boss cow, but much to my surprise it wasn’t Alexis that was the fighter but the Count. He and Ellie tussled around the pasture for a couple of hours off and on before settling down. She did prevail in that one, but they did so much running around I almost expected to see whipped cream at the next milking! Alexis on the other hand merely bobbed her head at Ellie. I don’t speak bovine, but it was a rather curt exchange and apparently the message was received that Alexis was the BOSS.
Before you think that Ellie has a problem with this please note – cows are not deep thinking beasts. They behave instinctively and life is best when they know exactly what is supposed to happen and where they need to go. That is why they follow the lead cow to pasture and back again and the boss cow gets first taste of the hay. Once Ellie knew her place in the herd she settled down, ate her fill and promptly laid down to chew her cud. The Count is now hopelessly in love with her and follows her around and bawls pathetically when she leaves to go and be milked.
Alexis is the one with the PROBLEM. She is used to being the first to get a pat and scratch, getting first crack at the grain in the milking area and being the favorite in the pasture. When I went out to take the pictures for this blog post she wouldn’t even look at me and this morning when I was out in the barn area she turned her back on me and pooped (a strong message of derision from a cow!) I am pretty sure she will forgive me eventually but right now she isn’t a happy girl!
At this point I will just have to work and curry favor by bringing her treats of apples and carrots and get back in her good graces.
In other farm news it might be warm enough to start seeing things coming up in the garden this week. Everything is so late with the cool weather – even the asparagus is just now getting going – though it took a hit when the passive aggressive lawn mowing teenager decided to mow that particular patch of the yard. I finally got the raspberries trimmed and tied up. Every year I promise myself that I won’t procrastinate the task – and every year I am late getting it done and break off a bunch of the fruiting stems in the process. On the other hand, the patch already produces more berries that I know what to do with so I suppose I shouldn’t stress it. The weather has been warm enough this weekend for the native pollinators to buzz around the fruit trees. I am excited about that because I hadn’t seem much action from them this year. Summer can’t get here soon enough for me!