Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Foster Care

We have been blessed with a pretty uneventful calving season. Well, not completely uneventful. However, compared to the first two years that we calved, the first year including a calf being born in the muck during Anna's 3rd birthday party and the following year when every calf was born in some sort of inclimate weather, it's been a good year.

However, this morning, Joe found a calf who had gotten into a fence line, and I will spare the details, but the calf did not make it. I hate it when this happens. Joe hates it when this happens, but these unfortunate events do occur now and again. However, we are surrounded by other cattle farmers, and had just received a phone call this past weekend from a neighboring "rancher" who had a calf who needed a mama. I can't remember if it was a twin who was rejected, or a calf who had lost his mother, but this neighbor was looking for a good home for an orphan.

At the time, we didn't need a superfluous calf, but as we speak, Joe is working with this sweet little thing and the mother who lost her baby today, trying to get the two to learn to love each other. The foster care program at the ranch has begun.

This all starts with nursing. If the mama can accept the calf and allow it to nurse, and the calf will take to this new mama, then all is well, and, like a good foster parent, the calf will be treated like he or she is her own. We're hoping that this is the case tonight. I'm hoping it's smooth and quick, considering it's been a gorgeous day, and I have three dirty kids who need baths, and I can hardly bend over.

But, I digress. This process is interesting to me. Cows and their "original" calves have a tight bond, that's for sure. Joe has experienced many a near miss with some ticked off mamas when he has tried to tag (or pierce) the ears of the new babies. Like any good mama, no girl wants her baby messed with (see any new mother as her baby is being passed around a baby shower or the church nursery). However, like any loving being, a mama cow also knows that all creatures need to be cared for and nurtured, and thus the simple act of nursing this calf will create a bond that will be as tight as if she had given birth to this little one herself.

It's amazing to me how something that is so much a business for us, something that inconveniences my ability to do this or that can really get to me as a mother.

Either that, or it's hormones.


  1. we deal with the same things...and i cry my eyes out sometimes...its a love hate relationship;more love though! happy calving.

  2. It is amazing to me how protective those mama cows become, but not surprised:)