Cows at sunset, April 24, 2014
Not much more needs to be said.
Early this month my rancher happily announced to his friends the commencement of a new profit center. He so enjoyed hosting a guest milk cow last year, he decided he needed his own. He determined to have a Jersey because we really don’t need enough milk for the entire town of Lowry like Bunny the Holstein provided last spring. We just want milk for the family and cream for Grandma’s kuchens. He contacted Graber Jerseys, well known in purebred dairy circles and found the perfect candidate. We had the trailer all shined up to fetch her when we were informed that she had a displaced abomasum and was going to the ball park. Translation: one of her four stomachs slipped to the wrong spot rendering her useful only for John Morrell hotdogs.
Another two candidates were found closer to home. One was already in production, but came sans calf. Baby calves are extremely expensive this year and we don’t need two daily milkings. The other was a heifer ready to calve. My rancher brought her home and grandson Isaac dubbed her “Rosie”.
As with many other first pregnancies, Rosie’s involved some drama. She quit eating and drinking soon after she arrived at our place. Her hair coat looked rough and she ran a high fever. The vet was consulted. The diagnosis: hardware in her stomach. The vet put a magnet down her gullet, pumped her full of antibiotics and we all crossed our fingers. She survived. This is how much farming in the area has changed. Dr. Anderson works extensively in Edmunds, Potter and Walworth Counties, and Rosie constitutes her total dairy clientele.
Rosie’s previous owner wasn’t sure what bull sired her calf. My rancher had nightmares about petite Rosie trying to throw a 90 pound calf. He figured she’d calve within a week or two of arriving on the ranch. Near the expected time, my rancher checked on her frequently, visions of a C-section motivating him to brave the cold to take a look. After nearly 3 1/2 weeks of “she’ll calve any time now,” she finally did. A puny red calf with white markings popped out quickly, apparently the product of easy calving Hereford genetics. Little Sunshine is almost as big as Rosie’s postpartum udder. Most hunting dogs weigh more than she does.
So our new enterprise is underway. We froze enough colostrum for our own upcoming calving season. Sunshine is growing and the barn cats are fat and happy. Next week she’ll commence supplying us with milk and cream. At the current price of dairy products, and with all the summer visitors to feed this summer, the Jersey Rose might just be the ranch’s biggest profit center.