Here in Kansas it’s been so windy and dry this last week that I’ve swapped Rosebud’s sunglasses out for her science goggles. She just turned four at the end of last month, and her birthday theme was Beatrix Potter’s wildly popular books about Peter Rabbit. So, “Flopsy” and I have been playing in the garden and getting things ready for planting season. As a result, the blueberry bushes are now happily growing in two large Mason Jar planters next to matching colored lawn chairs.
Raising More Than Vegetables
Beyond the garden, however, is more excitement. It’s calving season here on the ol’ homestead! Calving season brings with it late nights, early mornings, strange emergencies, false alarms, and lots of picture opportunities.
Gelbvieh cattle are great for families because the breed is so gentle. When the calves are born, we get to be right there with the mamas through the whole delivery process. Watching a calf wobble up on its legs for the first time, still wet and new, is such an incredible sight to behold. It’s also a trial in patience, though, because every once in a while little baby can’t seem to figure out which side of mama has milk, and while most of the cows don’t mind us gently nudging baby in the right direction, sometimes it’s best to stay back and let mama reposition herself or baby.
Our bull does great at producing calves with small birthing weights and above-average weaning and yearling weights, so there aren’t usually any hiccups (even in first-time heifers), but it’s impossible not to worry, all the same. So, during this time of the year, my husband is in and out of the house at all times of the night, constantly checking to see who’s where and who’s getting close.
Contrary to popular belief, I do actually sleep, and so those night-watches are pretty well an exclusive duty of my husband. During the day, we swap, and I take work outside with me, where I can watch over the cows and watch to see if any of them begin to act suspicious.
We have one cow who’s sixteen this year, who is an absolute sweetie, and a great mama. Even though she’s still doing great body, teeth, and health-wise, we’re going to retire her after this year and just let her live out her life as a really big pet (seed stock operation benefits) and just be a babysitter for the other cow’s calves after this year. Anyway, she’s also one of the most mischievous cows we have when she has her calves. She likes to keep them just on the other side of the fence and then play hide-and-seek with us. When we go to look for them, she runs to the other side of the pasture and bellows off into the distance, so we’re “fooled” into thinking her calf may be way off yonder.
I’m certain it plays out in her head something like: “I’ve lost my baby again. Truly. My baby is off over in that fresh brome poking through the otherwise dormant grass… See it? Just right on the other side of this fence? Oh? You can’t find it? Well, if you just let me out in there for a bit, I’m sure I can run on in and bring back baby with me… No, no. Don’t look back that way. I told you, she’s off that way. Just cut the fence, and I’ll be back after my tummy is full of the same stuff I have in here that looks so much tastier over there. Oh, shoot. You got me.”
Last year, it took us nearly five days to find the little stinker after we weighed it at birth.
So, even though the hips and birth weights aren’t conducive to birthing problems, we still watch them all like a hawk during calving season… just in case, and so that we can get that birthing weight before mama cow decides it’s time to play hide and seek with baby.
The fact that I work from home and can be outside monitoring mischievous cows while getting my work done and watching my daughter play close by is just one more perk to being a work at home mompreneur living on a homestead.