Tag Archives: Cows

And then there were 7

Three new tiny extra tiny calves arrived today, two black heifers and a red hereford/dexter steer. I got home after dark and so have only seen them in these photographs. We’ve named one of them already, the red and white steer who we’ve called Perky – short for “per kilo”. I know. How can we? Well, I really don’t know if we will eat him, but that was supposed to be part of the plan. However, I hadn’t planned on our “chosen one” for eating being so … distinctively cute. I’ve never seen a face like it.

Hmmm…problem number 1 – I am already in completely in love with him.

Perky is the one on the right below …




News about new moos

The new cows arrived today. The friends we bought them from followed us to our place and after a small misadventure to do with our steep driveway and a float-load of cow bulk came the unavoidable need to release the cows half way up the driveway. It looked like we were about to see the sequel to the Big Jack runaway episode of last year because the cows decided to have a run over the rolling hills of the neighbour’s property. Watching them speeding off into the distance on the wrong property was not a good feeling.

After much cross-country following and calling by Richard and friends – I lost track of time but possibly an hour or so later – the cows were finally convinced to follow our friends back over the hills into our property and into the safety of the cattle yard.

I must admit that the sight of seeing the little cows hoofing it into the distance on the wrong property made me panic into forgetting I my burgeoning baby belly and running across the yard to collect lucerne bales to tempt them back. I am paying for my exertions now with stomach muscles I never knew existed. I allowed myself a reality check and decided instead to use my belly bulk half way down the driveway as an effective belly-boulder roadblock. It was either that, or possibly go into labour 10 weeks early. 😉 I was *so* relieved that the three of them managed to get the cows back and that in my small way I could at least help.

So, panic over, it was definitely a relief to see the little cows safe in their yard this afternoon. We’ve already started to bond with them and dote on them.

Here are some photographs.

cows 3

cows 2

Tiny & Lady:


Mini four-legged friends

Whilst we await the final few months of our little human belly friend to arrive, we can fill it with the excitement of our third season of new cows coming to the farm. All being well they should be joining us in the next couple of weekends.
This year we are trying out a small breed call Dexters. There are a few reasons:

  • lighter footfall on the land and suited to steep slopes
  • we know some local breeders who are ready to sell
  • smaller handling for myself and the baby when I’m on maternity leave being full-time farm girl
  • cute and small, therefore better costs for hobby farmers like us who’s big cows last year nearly sent us bankrupt due to summer feed costs
  • ideal size for the freezer (yes, this is to be the year when we accept the reality of home-grown meat)
  • we can keep them longer over the summer and try our hand at breeding
  • they are celtic in origin (sits well with my mystical leanings)

We are excited and looking forward to having friendly ‘mooing’ echoing across the paddocks again.

Another goodbye

No posts for a while … I’ve been … distracted.

This week we are on holiday and have had to sell 4 cows because of the odd extremely dry October. Summer has come way too early and there is just no way to sustain our 8 cows who are already on the borderline of being able to continue grazing.

Yes, this includes Balti. Our hand reared pet-like cow has gone to a friend’s house and will stock their freezer in the not too distant future. Balti was always intended to be food, but when it comes to it, we are just too soft and can’t make the transition from pet to plate.

We’ve never split the cows before, last year we sold them all together and it is a bit sad to hear Skye pining for Balti. We sold all the males (4) and kept 4 females as we can then make a decision about trying to produce calves, preferably nearer to autumn. With the early summer, autumn seems to be in the very distant future …

So, yet again at this time of year, the farm breaths a little wisp of sadness as some great personalities move onto their next phase.

Balti’s first girlfriend

Raising Balti from a day old calf by bottle and teaching him to drink milk from a bucket last year was our first calf raising experience.

It’s now pretty amusing to watch Balti enter his teenage years and start to get frisky with the ladies. I watched a beautiful cow ritual of head rubbing, eye gazing and even eye lash fluttering. There was definitely some cow flirting going on. Although I didn’t catch any of the courtship action on camera (I’m no cow perve!) here is a photograph of Balti and his cute girl, Skye.
balti and his girl

Yes, love in most certainly in the air, as thick as pollen, ‘twixt the trees in the paddocks. It’s a festival of free spring cow love.

We’ve only ever had just boy cows before, so now with a mixed bunch it’s interesting to watch the difference in the dyamic and learn a bit about cow courtship. Very cute. All our males are steers though so there will no calves without vet intervention.

Big Jack and the whole of the moon

Remember those archetypal ‘Hickory Dickory’ images of a cow jumping over the moon that you saw everywhere as a child?. You know the one – the beautiful fanciful vision that upon growing old you cast out of your ‘reality’ bag, to dwell in the ‘against the laws of earthbound physics’ bag.

Big Jack

Here begins the point whereby you think again.

This week, we have seen scared cows lift their 300-500kg bulk off the earth to ‘fly’ over fences and sprint into neighbouring properties. If you stood in the right place, the rising full moon would have easily given the illusion of a cow indeed jumping over the moon.

Here begins the tale of Big Jack, the missing Hereford steer…

Without a casting blame, but in some way maintaining our own aura of passable cow handling techniques, let us just say that third party involvement was the cause of Jack the giant jumper’s antics. His decision to fly over the fence and run for miles was heavily influenced by fear of a human who didn’t understand what he was about. Watching Big Jack ascend the other side of the hill from the dark depths of vertical ravine was on one hand, a relief in that he survived the descent – but mostly, makes you feel pretty helpless on Sunday evening at 8pm. Big Jack had left the paddock.

Here beings the hunt for Big Jack…

We have spent the last few mornings & evenings walking neighbours acreages, making up ‘Have you seen Big Jack?’ signs complete with offers of rewards (he is worth $600 and we’ve only had him for about 3 weeks). There have also been other ‘complications’ in terms of some visiting cows on our property that has meant that with the search for Big Jack we have been generally been feeling pretty pissed off with the whole situation all week. We also found a decomposing sheep had got its head wedged in our back boundary fence. Everywhere we turned, something seemed to be going wrong.

Here begins the happy ending…

This morning, on the way to work after another particularly depressing morning without our Big Jack, we got the call. Big Jack had turned up on a neighbouring property, approximately 5 kilometres away. Big Jack is back. Er, well not exactly yet – we will have to somehow collect him up and trailer him back home.

Here begins the life lesson…

Cows can and do jump and will jump, over anything.

New coos

The trauma of saying goodbye forever to our first cows is over – the image and soundtrack of the heavy metal truck door closing behind them like a death-row prison door will no doubt haunt me forever. The whole process has been smoothed over because of the arrival of our new cows. It still feels strange to see unknown alien cows running around where minutes before there were six large black cows whom we knew well — but at least there was no gap between having cows. No eerie moo-less paddocks to haunt my conscience about the forthcoming fate of the first lot. For someone who has always been passionate about issues like animal cruelty, anti-vivisection etc… I can tell you that the thought of being involved in sending cows off potentially to slaughter, or even to live export to the Middle East (it could happen, depending on who buys at the auction) just seeps dark guilt into my heart and conscience. I reconcile it by seeing our involvement as a sort of calf fostering role. We raise them and give them the resources and time that we can for a limited period, but cannot be ultimately responsible for their future fate. We have all become accustomed to meat bought in sterile polystyrene plastic wrapped trays. It is a sobering and valuable reality check to really understand that a steak once had a personality.

Anyway, I’ll blow away the philosophical cloud of guilty conscience floating around me tonight and focus on the new task at hand – settling the new cows in. They are of course, extremely cute. For not the first (or last) time, I am again in love with our newest companions – destined again to be heartbroken in future, but committed nevertheless to giving out maximum love to the hoofed ones, ‘cos that’s what we do.

new cows

Baby Balti

This day old calf we adopted is just about plugging the leaking hole in my heart arising from selling our first cows off like commodities.

This is Balti. baby balti

From hand feeding him via a bottle for the first few days, to teaching him (using a wrestling-like technique and much sucking of fingers and biting of teeth) to drink from his first bucket, I find myself completely in love with the little fella.

Which is not the way to feel at all….

After being so closely involved with his first few days of life and being recognised by him as ‘mum’, with all the relevant communicative moos becoming an understood language between us, there is an inherent problem. Balti’s intended fate is a little bit closer to home than our big cows, in terms of our freezer compartment. That’s right, Balti is supposed to end up as home grown beef.

I really don’t know if I can handle that though. I know I have a year or so to get used to the idea….but I really really have grave doubts about whether his fate will be something I can stomach (in more ways than one). For now he is my wobbly legged comedic wee pal.

Goodbye to 6 tails

Well, it was inevitable.

warning- lame comment alert:
We used to sing Puff the Magic dragon in primary school (who didn’t) and you know that sad bit in the ‘Puff the Magic dragon’ song when Jackie Paper stops visiting Puff and Puff cries and crawls into his cave… you realise (or at least I did) that life isn’t all about eternally happy animals or eternally young people. Well, I’m still having these realisations as an adult but surprisingly not via naff songs but real experience.

This week we are selling our cows to market. We will be getting more calves straight away, so there will be new tails swishing in the paddock, but I’m anticipating that saying goodbye to our first six is going to be a bit of an ordeal. They get picked up on Tuesday. Cows are amazing animals – you get attached to their habits, personalities and long eyelashes. We only named the little one (Sanjeev) and now I’m pretty glad about that.