I tried something different yesterday. Our sweet Maggie and her milk maid mother, Maisy, (oh wait, I’m the milk maid!) are residing at our most wonderful neighbors’s barn just down the lane from our property. We have GREAT fields but no fence and no barn and no milking stanchion. So in exchange for milk and cream, our neighbors said it was ok if we do a “barn share”. Remember? I wrote a bit about it here.
The calf and cow share an area that the neighbors are calling their “sacrifice paddock” because it’s a good place for a neighboring milk cow and her little black calf to reside while the other fields are drying out so they don’t get all pugged up (wow, was that all one sentence?). Maisy has been eating good hay since October/ November and though the pasture grass is greening up, it’s still sparse and wet. One of my most favorite milk cow gurus calls spring grass “washy”, here. And that’s a good description.
The grass looks good, but it’s still early and immature and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of nutrients. And too much of this grass can cause diarrhea and sometimes bloat.
It’s the type of grass that might even taste good to a milk cow and her little black calf (did I tell you we discussed calling Maggie, Little Black Sambo when she was first birthed? But I was out voted. Plus, she was a girl. I guess we could have called her Little Black Sambette. But I probably would have been out voted then too. What’s the matter with my family? No imaginations. None of them!) But this grass can fool a cow and cause her to eat too much and possibly cause bloat. (This is not the same when I eat too much ice cream and get bloat. Although I think the outcome might be the same.) Sweet milk cows and her little black
Sambo calf can die of bloat!
But the grass! It looks so good! It calls her name, Mais-y!!
Even I can smell the greenness in the breeze. If we had our own barn with a fence, we could introduce the washy grass to the cows a bit at a time. Out on the grass for an hour. Back onto hay for a couple of days. Out on the washy-grass-that-tastes-so-good for 2 hours. Back on hay for a couple of days. So that by the time the grass is thick and more nutritious and not washy, the cow’s digestive system isn’t shocked into making too much gas and causing bloat.
So I milked the momma as usual. Fed them both their 1/2 bale of good green hay. Let them have momma/ baby time.
Observed Maisy’s poo. You can tell a lot about how a cow is doing by looking at her poo.
See? Plopped out just like a can of pumpkin pie filling (sorry. I can’t help but think in terms of food. Even when it comes to……well, you know.) Little bits of seeds visible. Perfect.
Then I haltered up Maggie and we walked the 57 steps out of the sacrifice paddock, down the neighbors driveway and into the northwest corner of our pasture. Just like that! I tethered her in place and went to get Maisy.
Now Maisy is a big cow. She’s big for a Jersey. Her shoulder comes up to my shoulder and I’m Amazonian (IE: read: pretty tall for a girl).
Here she comes, tippy- toeing across the pasture for some treats.
Plus Maisy really likes routine. And she’s not very good on a lead (IE: read; she’s head strong and goes where she wants to go and I can’t make her do differently. She learned that before she came to us. We are working on that but it’s a slow process.) That’s one of the reasons I’m so adamant that Maggie is manageable on a lead. I can’t deal with TWO head strong cows in my life! So I have to be very careful when working with Maisy outside of her routine. I am quite, deliberate and have a plan in mind. I also have a plan B. Just in case.
The whole while I was leading Maggie to our fields, Maisy was paralleling us down the driveway with the fence in between. She was talking the entire time too. Though she seemed concerned that Maggie and I were going for a walk without her, she wasn’t afraid she was loosing her baby. So far Maisy trusts me and I’ve never given her a reason to doubt that trust. When I came back for the cow, I swung open the big gate and she trotted right where I didn’t want her to go~ into the neighbor’s wet, green field. WET field. With her BIG Maisy feet. Pugging up their WET green field. Why didn’t she go down the driveway where Maggie and I had taken our walk? She was also taking great big swiping mouthfuls of grass. I could almost hear her sigh. But she was in the wrong place. So out came the treat bucket. And her milk maid trying to coax her out of the great wet green grass to our great green grass where we don’t care if the fields are pugged up a bit. It took some convincing (with the treat bucket filled with bits of apple~ her favorite) but she finally found her way down the driveway directly to her waiting, tethered calf!
Ahhh. The reunion was sweet. Not.
Maisy completely passed by her little black, tethered calf and dove into the grass. I think Maggie had hurt feelings! Barely chewing, she was gulping and tearing and ripping into the pasture. Eating and eating and eating. For 30 minutes she ate. And ate. And ate. I’m not sure where she put it all! She had already eaten 1/2 a bale of hay before she walked to the pasture. THEN, finally she strolled back around to where Maggie was tethered. To make sure her baby was OK, you know.
By that time, they were both a bit tired and thirsty. So I untethered Maggie and the three of us quietly walked back to the neighbors paddock. And of course precisely as I swung open the big gate, Maisy had to veer off one more time, just to check out the neighbor’s car sitting in the driveway. After she licked the car, just a quick taste, she moseyed her big self through the gate to the water trough where Maggie was already slurping.
Whew! Quite the adventure.
In the meantime, I’ll be on poo watch to observe if 30 minutes of abject grass gluttony wasn’t too much for a big Jersey girl and her little
Black Sambo Maggie calf.
I can’t wait to do it again!
0 47 eggs, 2.5 gallons milk
Weather: Low- 34 Mostly sunny, with a high near 82-ish. Very warm for this time of year still. Calm wind becoming south southeast around 6 mph in the morning.
Supper: Ribs with a new BBQ sauce recipe and potato salad! YUM!