|Dolly is more of the private type. I can respect that.
Every time we have a new calf born on our farm, it’s the culmination of months of hoping and anticipating. Imagine that excitement when we found out Dolly and Daisy were pregnant at the same time. Huzzah times two!
|Umm…that’s not your calf, Daisy.
Back in November, we were anxiously watching the cows. According to my calculations, they were actually due in October, but like me, both of them went well over until they looked like they were literally going to pop.
In typical Dolly fashion, she gave birth sometime in the early morning hours when no one would bother or see her. I can totally respect her need for privacy as I’m the same way in childbirth. Usually, I know the blessed event has happened because A) her udder gets HUGE. We’re talking gargantuan the day right before it happens and B) I can’t find her when I go out to give everyone breakfast. She is NEVER the last one to come for sweet feed unless she’s had a calf. This time, she was hiding behind the back of the shed, cleaning off her already-standing calf when I found her. Bull calf number one born healthy!
Daisy is the complete opposite of Dolly. Both times she’s given birth at our farm, she’d done it in broad daylight with an entire audience. We’re talking people, chickens, herdmates, dogs, cats, and the occasional neighbor walking by, cars, etc, all watching and cheering her on.
Initially, we were concerned the calves would be born in less-than-ideal cold weather. We were prepared with straw for bedding and copious amounts of hay and sweet feed if they needed to be sequestered in the barn, but we were exceptionally blessed that both birthdays were sunny and relatively warm for the month. That gave both calves time to dry off and get on their feet without so much as a shiver.
Once everyone was settled and had done their initial nursing, we like to take the chance to introduce ourselves (and check whether we have more boys or girls). Daisy and Dolly are both fantastic mothers, which means if they think their babe is being threatened, they’ll pummel whoever’s bothering them. Thankfully, they also both like us (…okay, Dolly tolerates us, but still…), so they benevolently allow us to show their calves that people equal good things like head scratches, sweet feed, being let out on the pasture, and relief from biting flies.
We didn’t plan on having two cows and four steers at the same time, but part of the oddity of the pandemic is that the butcher shops are all running behind. So, our herd has been growing and though it’s a little tight with land, I don’t mind having a few extra cattle to look after. The calves fit right into the social structure. Their moms teach them manners, their big brothers tease them relentlessly, and everybody watches out for everyone else when they’re on the move.
|Uhh…Daisy, that’s still not your calf.
We were super curious about what would happen with having two calves at the same time when it came to nursing. I’d been told Dolly would let other calves nurse as long as her own calf was being fed. Turns out, it’s also true of Daisy. Whenever one of the calves stumbles across an udder, it’s fair game. Both calves feed at will on whoever’s closest and so far, it seems to be working out just fine–neither calf is outgrowing the other, so we can only assume they’re both getting adequate nutrition.
|Looks like a comfy place to nap to me. 🤷♀️
The more calves we have, the harder it is to come up with names because we’re so particular about following the link we’ve created with their mothers and siblings. Dolly (as in Dolly Parton), has had Parton, Woody (as in Dollywood), and Smokey (as in the Smokey Mountains). Daisy’s surviving calf is Hashi–he’s part Wagyu, a Japanese breed, and looked like Hershey’s chocolate when he was born. Can you guess what Hashi means? Yep. It’s Japanese for Hershey. 😅
Having two calves at once to name made it more challenging for us, so after a couple months of scratching our heads, the steers have officially been named Floyd and Ren. Floyd is Dolly’s calf–he’s slightly darker, a week older, and is named for Dolly Parton’s brother who she wrote many of her songs with. Daisy’s calf had horns (those are gone, thanks to a visit from the vet), he’s lighter colored, and in honor of his mother’s floral name and his daddy’s Japanese heritage, Ren is Japanese for Lotus Flower. Simple as that, their names stuck and they’re officially part of the herd.
These half brothers (different mothers, same Wagyu daddy) have been a blast to watch grow. My favorite part is when they hold their tails high and rip around the pasture in a game of tag. They’re growing big and strong, have the funniest personalities, are an adorable addition to the farm. Welcome, Floyd and Ren!