Monday, November 9, 2009
Norman has two mommies
One of the things you learn when you keep dairy cattle is that every cow is different. Every. Cow.
There are ones who produce a large quantity of milk and those who produce less, but maybe have thicker, creamier milk. There are those who are a dream to milk, standing still in the stanchion and not even switching their tails. And there are those who stomp around and feel that milking time is the best time to empty the bowels. There are those who are consistently dirtier and those who somehow keep themselves tidy. There are those who would never, ever willingly let another calf nurse off of them and those who will either actively or passively adopt whomever gives their bag a nudge.
Isabelle is a born nurse cow.
Norman has been kept close to the house along with his mama, Caroline, and Isabelle, our other cow in milk right now. It makes milking chores much more pleasant, especially on bitter cold mornings. The other 4 (Lily, Belle, Annabelle, and big, ole' Burt) are out in the big pasture.
Shortly after Norman was born, Isabelle decided she was lonesome for a calf of her own and began offering her services to Norman. He was happy to oblige, of course, because what is better than a big bag of milk at your disposal? Two of them! She even seems to think that it is at least half her responsibility to protect the little guy and keeps a close eye on us when we get near to him.
At the moment, we're letting this continue. It makes for a surprise each morning, as we never know who will be full and who will have just been emptied by Norman.
Soon, however, we will send Norman out to the pasture with Isabelle. Isabelle doesn't produce quite as much milk as Caroline, so we'll let her take the calf and keep Caroline close to the house to be milked exclusively by us. We are expecting Belle to calf early in the year, so we'll be bringing her in so that we can start working with her before she calves. She is the wildest of the herd, so she definitely needs to get used to being handled, especially if we need to assist in any way during the birth.
Until all that happens, though, Norman is sure getting his fill.