Chicken Sunday - Home on the Range Blog at - 245856

Home on the Range

Chicken Sunday 
Aug. 3, 2011 10:49 am 
Updated: Aug. 9, 2011 9:12 am

We had heavy thunderstorms all afternoon and evening. The next morning the sun rose bright and every color seemed more intense. It was humid, but the flowers all seemed more brilliant and cheerful than usual. Maybe that is what ‘woke up’ the chickens. All summer they have had their little doors open, but chose to remain in their quarters. Not today. Today, even the meaties are playing on the lawn on the opposite side of the house. They are basking in the sun and playing in the raspberry bed. The ‘big uns’ are parading all around the back yard and the ‘little uns’ are darting hither and yon in search of bugs. They even entered the ‘big un’s’ pen and tried out all their roosts. It is as if they were all injected with joy. I have dubbed it “Chicken Sunday”. It is also my sister’s birthday.

Not all went so smoothly.
Dolly went into this calving looking better than she has ever looked before.
Everything was going swimmingly until we had to graft leppies on both cows to share-milk while we went to town. We would let Dolly’s own calf nurse, along with a foster heifer, then bring Moose in to clean up what was left as she was producing more than the calves could handle.

Suddenly, she started losing weight. I had been separating the all calves overnight, but Dolly would come in the morning with a nearly empty bag. I was beginning to worry about her calf getting enough to survive. I removed the foster calves.
We thought maybe she was grieving her calf, as she spent a lot of time at the fence mooing to him, so we turned him back out with her. I wanted to milk Emma, so I kept her in. Dolly looked immediately better that evening, and even had some milk in her bag. I turned both Jersey calves out with her so I could milk Emma in the morning. Emma cried and carried on. I was mad because it looked like SHE was getting too attached to her calf and it was going to cause me problems.

I turned both cows out for two days and Dolly has continued to drop off weight and has gone back to an empty bag. Emma’s bag never seems to be very empty, but she isn’t letting down for me. Dolly is starting to scare me.
I keep upping her feed and supplementing the almost 40 acres of pasture with more and more alfalfa, but she continued to get thinner and thinner at a rapid rate.
Emma looked fine. I began to panic thinking maybe Dolly had Johnes. (a deadly wasting disease of cattle)
Every horrible scenerio ran through my head. What could make my cow go from looking great to skin and bones in two weeks??

Tonight the mystery was solved.
I brought the girls in to feed them, then turned them out with their calves. They were all standing in the orchard and I could see Dolly licking her calf while he nursed, but something didn’t look right. I walked through the muck and mud and found out EXACTLY why Dolly looks so poor, and Emma has a tight bag.

There nursing Dolly, was her calf...“Mo”...
... Emma’s calf “CWilly” …


Aug. 3, 2011 11:38 am
I do hope she comes around. I saw you post on FB that she finally ate a bit today. That poor thing.
Aug. 3, 2011 11:44 am
Me too. She is absolutely the sweetest cow. She will run to see me, little crooked legs flapping, and milk squirtin'! This week she could barely stand up, but she's a LOT perkier today!
Aug. 3, 2011 12:24 pm
It must taste better when Dolly makes it!
Aug. 3, 2011 12:40 pm
I saw this on your "Range to Range" website - - and I said it then and I'll say it again - - "HOLY COW!" - Dolly was nursemaid to 2 calves and a full blown 800 pound adult cow - - no wonder she's skin & bones. I sure hope Miss Dolly is doing better. Good thing you were persistent to figure out this mystery - good job Petey!
Aug. 3, 2011 12:47 pm
Glad to hear she's doing better.Animals will keep you on your toes.I only have cats and a dog but have had all kinds of animals through the years.The worse was when I had horses in the winter time and had to go out and break the water and shovel them a path before I went to school.That was the good old days.
Aug. 3, 2011 12:50 pm
LOL! No WONDER Dolly was down to skin and bones! Poor thing!! Tell Miss Emma moo cow that she's a grown lady and a mama to boot, so she's got no business acting like a baby! Glad to hear Dolly's eating and looking better :-)
Aug. 3, 2011 1:08 pm
LOLOLOL! At least you figured out what was wrong with no ill results
Aug. 3, 2011 2:14 pm
What a very sweet story!! Love love love it! Keep 'em coming, petey!!!
Aug. 3, 2011 4:33 pm
Poor Dolly! I am so glad you got it figured out Petey. No wonder she was skin and bones, poor thing. Tell Miss Emma moo that she is a grown up mama herself, she needs to act like one! I do hope sweet Dolly will continue to improve quickly...Ginny
Aug. 3, 2011 5:14 pm
Very sweet story, but worrying also. I sure hope Dolly fairs okay in the end! I lived on a farm a bit when I was a kid and I remember how worried my step-dad would get when things weren't right. The whole family and the hands would be out at the barns most of the day and the adults all night sometimes. Only time I got to stay up all night was to see 9 Irish Setter puppies born, pure joy!
Aug. 3, 2011 6:45 pm
I think she has turned the corner today. She is eating again. It took 3 days of intense anxiety, shots of B complex and lots of yogurt, molasses and ACV but she seems to be doin better! We came very close to losing her.
Aug. 3, 2011 7:13 pm
Great news! Keep up the coddling :)
Aug. 3, 2011 7:13 pm
Sorry, hit enter too soon. Can you believe how un-selfish she was ~ she must have known how hard it was on her?
Aug. 3, 2011 8:34 pm
Oh for crying out loud!! Who would have thought that an adult cow would even be interested in such a thing. I would assume you have them separated now? Surely there is a joke in here somewhere, but I'm stymied right about now and to tired to come up with one. Glad you figured it out though before you lost her.
Aug. 4, 2011 4:35 am
A few of my farmer friends have said that cattle do not forget their mmothers. Others have disagreed or scoffed with the thought because "cattle are stupid" and have no attachments after several months. Maybe I should have the skeptics read your post, Petey?
Aug. 4, 2011 4:42 am
Have you had Emma checked for nutrition deficencies? Likely, its not the cause but...
Aug. 4, 2011 12:57 pm
Dolly is famous for her nurturing nature. She raised 15 leppies for me since I brought her home. Emma is just VERY spoiled and VERY greedy! They are separated now, perhaps for good!
Aug. 4, 2011 12:59 pm
That said, I don't think cows are stupid...actually, they are pretty smart. They notice EVERYthing and don't like change. They do, however, have a much lower functioning central nervous system than we do, which is why they don't feel pain much.
Aug. 4, 2011 6:17 pm
I, too, think they're smarter than they're given credit for, but the ones who write the books, IMO, don't have a lot of hands-on experience with them. How old is Emma? Once a cow started nursing again, we found continual separation, which was the only solution we knew, was too much of a pain and we "sent them to the city." Always hated that euphemism. Hope you have better luck re-training ol' Em!
Aug. 5, 2011 8:13 am
Emma is 2. I have been watching them, and she has only been trying to nurse her when the other calves are nursing. I think she is SNEAKING in and using them for cover, so I can at least put the two together in front of the house where I can see them, during the day, without calves. Dolly is her mother, so I guess she feels entitled!
Aug. 5, 2011 1:14 pm
Oh my goodness - kids and their ENTITLEMENT issues! Only problem is - they grow up and then you've got adults with ENTITLEMENT issues - - are we seeing some similarities between the herd and the human race?
Aug. 9, 2011 6:15 am
Cute story! I hope Dolly continues to improve. That picture of Emma is terrific!
Aug. 9, 2011 6:53 am
Bahahahahaha!!! How funny! Love this one!
Aug. 9, 2011 9:12 am
I know its not funny but OMYGOODNESS!! What a picture. What a laugh! I can totally see this as part of a book- have someone illustrate that for ya. What a story!
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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