What were we to do? Time had passed, and suddenly we realised we were behind schedule in finding a bull to service our two lovely Jersey cows, Rosie and Coco.
Perhaps “The Ambler” could be prevailed upon to make a visit, as he did last year? Alas, when we called his owner we were told that the Ambler has been failing to perform of late. This was sad news indeed. What were we to do??
We decided to contact some neighbours down the road, who have a very fine herd of Red Devon cattle. Kevin and I had often admired these splendid beasts and rather fancied the idea of having a couple of half-Red-Devon calves on the Farmlet. There are several reasons why a Red Devon sire seemed like a good choice:
1. They are a “meat breed,” so the offspring should be very suitable for the freezer.
2. They have a reputation for being quiet.
3. They tend to throw fairly small calves — So should be ok for our little Jersey cows!
4. They are splendid-looking beasts with fine tawny coats. (I’m not sounding very much like a farmer here, am I!?)
Luck was on our side. Our neighbours had a Red Devon bull visiting their cows at the very time we called. Once he had finished his assignment with their cows, he would be able to come down the road to stay awhile with Rosie and Coco before returning to his owner.
At first, I had the not so brilliant idea of taking Rosie and Coco down the road to meet the bull. Kevin soon pointed out that we would run the risk of losing them somewhere on the way, since they are rather flighty when it comes to being moved, and we don’t have a cattle dog to help us. Getting the bull to our place could be managed by moving him alongside his entourage of very quiet Red Devon cows (our neighbour’s darlings!). At the end of his stay, we would just have to get him back along the road to our neighbour’s stock yards. Just get him back along the road? Just?? We solved this dilemma by offering grazing for a couple of the Red Devon cows for the duration of the bull’s sojourn. The bull would be much easier to move in their company. Our neighbours were really pleased with this arrangement, since they were short of grass, and we were only too happy to be able to help them in return for sharing the bull.
Never before were so many creatures seen grazing in the Farmlet paddocks! Our two cows, their two calves, the Red Devon bull, and two Red Devon cows. Seven cattle! And we only have about 3.5 acres of grazing — or 5.5 counting the extra paddocks belonging to our next-door neighbour. Luckily for us, it had been a warm wet summer and the grass in our pastures was doing incredibly well. As it turned out, our pastures were well equal to accommodating the extra animals. In fact, the grass will probably do better for having been eaten down properly.
We think we know when each of our two cows stood for the bull, and we dearly hope they are in calf. We had planned to keep the bull for two cycles to be sure that the job was done. Our plans changed after some drama with one of the fences on our neighbour’s place. Actually, it was the two Red Devon cows who knocked the fence down. They are much bigger, meatier creatures than our little Jerseys, and are much harder on the fences. The bull was pacing the fence line, eyeing up some heifers over the way, and poor Kevin was losing sleep over the possibility that he would escape and run amok. Suddenly it seemed prudent to dispatch the Red Devons while the rest of our fences were still standing. As far as our cows being in calf, we are just hoping for the best!
Coco’s behaviour seems to indicate that she is probably in calf. (This is very important to us, since she is our house cow. We need her to calve in order to secure next season’s supply of delicious creamy milk.) Her milk supply suddenly began to decrease after she stood for the bull, and Kevin has remarked than she seems much quieter and calmer since then, also. Actually, at the last milking, the decrease in milk supply was so striking that we became suspicious. Could she really be drying off so fast? She looks in fine condition. One explanation is that her milk supply is NOT actually decreasing that fast. Possibly her milk is being poached. . . and the chief suspect is none other than that cheeky, fat rascal Herman Beefsteak. We will have to see what develops at the next milking!