Friday, March 27, 2009

Lady Sweetums

This afternoon was the 72 hour mark for Sweetums' hormone shot. She had started mooing a little, so we called Tony. At about 530 pm, Sweetums became a woman. Hopefully, she will no longer be a heifer, but will now be a true cow. Ok, ok. Let me get to the nitty gritty. I know you want to hear it!


This story is also not for the faint of heart. I used to belong to that group, but I am now in the group of people who don't even flinch at this kind of thing (yea right). I am now a farm girl who isn't grossed out by anything (except for everything nasty). So I apologize if I am a bit graphic, because it doesn't phase me one little bit ( actually,I had my left hand clasped so tight across my mouth during the whole thing just to keep from screaming in disgust).

Ok, so Tony has the can of liquid nitrogen in the back of the truck, the long glove, and a long metal straw/syringe apparatus. Sounds simple enough. Sweetums is happily eating her peanuts in the chute...goats are are asking "Is she getting another shot?" I say, Sorta. They are satisfied with that answer for now. Tony opens the gate on the chute, puts the straw/syringe that is holding the semen IN HIS MOUTH as if it is a rose ( I guess Tony understands the ladies)and begins the process of putting his arm up her rear end. I took pictures with my right hand, and had my left hand over my mouth as stated earlier. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The kids have climbed the fence half way, like good farm kids do, to get a better look at the goings on. Daughter yells out, "Why is he putting the glove in her bottom?!" Son, hearing her say bottom, yells out "BOTTOM? YUCK!" And he laughs. I'm still in my same position with the hand over my mouth. Can't talk, can't look and yet can't not look. The process of getting the arm in took a few minutes I'd say, at the most. Then, the semen straw goes in under the arm, and squirt! - arm out, glove off, wham-bam-thank-you-mam... Just another day in the life of Tony.

I look at daughter. She has a really freaked out look on her face. "That was WEIRD," she said. I laughed. Yes, darling, that was weird.

Farmer-hubby says, she didn't seem to mind that one bit! Tony laughs, "No, no she didn't. She was definitely in heat."

At that point I was able to attend better to the children's questions... here is my brilliant explanation: there is a little tiny baby calf in that shot that you can't see with your eyes it is so small. He puts it in her belly and it will grow into a big baby calf. It will take a long time. And that is all I said. They went on about their business. That is what I LOVE about farm kids. They just accept life as it is.

So Tony stands around talking to us for awhile, while I drill him with questions about fresh milk, his life story, you know small talk. And Sweetums stood at the fence staring at him. She didn't take her eyes off him. Farmer hubby jokes with Tony and says, "Finally she doesn't have a crush on me anymore-its you now!" She just stood there, listening to our conversation. I think she was thinking to herself..."I wonder if he'll call me tomorrow."

I gotta say, this was a pretty painless experience (for me!) over all. Once we got Tony's name, this process has been a breeze. I was so anxious that we wouldn't ever be able to get her pregnant. I am trusting in the good ol' birds and the bees, and saying a little prayer that we have a little (heifer) embryo forming as I write! I will update her status as it becomes available.

Tony put the glove in the back of his truck and drove off saying, "Holler at me if she comes in heat in about 21 days! If not, I'll preg check her at about 60!"

10-4 good buddy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Shot has been given-now we wait

We met Tony today, and his buddy Allen Boyd. Now, the ironic thing is that our US Congressman representing our district is named Allen Boyd. This was not the congressman Allen Boyd who came to give a hormone shot. But, I digress. Farmer-husband had already put Sweetums in her new chute/milking stall. She had a treat of peanuts and corn in her food bowl to keep her occupied during the procedure. It was really a quick and dirty process. He lifted her tail up (as you can see in the picture) and then he gave her the shot. She did move around some, but not anything like what I had pictured in my worst case scenerio, where I had her coming up over the sides of the stall and several large men having to man-handle her to get the shot done.

Tony said we should see her in heat within 48-72 hours. Then, we give him a call and the real deed is done. So, hopefully on Friday afternoon I will be posting another story!

The real benefit to all this is that Tony and Allen Boyd were able to give me some good solid information on the sale of raw milk. It has been hard to get this info, so I was excited to get it. Alls I got to do is get a pet food license, label the milk for pet consumption only, and cha-ching! Maybe we can recoup some of the cha-ching that has already been paid.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My New Gig

First and foremost, I have to let you know that Sweetums' first date was postponed to this coming Tuesday... the details surrounding this involved a few "missed signs" that forced us to cancel this week's happenings. As promised earlier, the story and pictures will follow!

Now, for my big reveal! I have landed the opportunity to write a weekly article for our local newspaper. I am very excited about this because it is something I have thought about for a long time. The nature of the article will be very similar to this blog. Mainly light-hearted stories about my farm life, with some educational and pertinent agriculture issues thrown in there. It will run every Friday, with the heading of "The Farmer Takes a Wife" and my picture! Pretty cool, huh?

I am still deciding what my debut article will be about...should I shock people? Make people laugh? Educate them? Inform them? I'm still deciding. Hopefully I will win them!

Thank you to my faithful readers for all your comments and feedback- keep reading!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sweetums is going all the way

2 years ago, I had the crazy idea to get a family milk cow. I read up on the subject (a little). I thought about the details of it all (well, not really). I talked to people who were "experts" (OK, 1 person). And then I put my name on the waiting list at a Jersey dairy for newborn heifers they weren't going to keep (mainly because they were born later than the majority of their calves and didn't fit in with the schedule of the dairy). Then I waited. I figured nothing would come of it. Then the phone call came. "Tracie, we have 2 calves that are 1 week old. Are you interested in them? If so, you need to make your decision by tomorrow because there are other people that have already said they would buy them if you choose not to."

Ummmmm......honey? Can I get a calf?

I guess.

That is my sweet husband for you. And he made it all happen. The initial pen for her, the equiptment, the de-worming... but the feeding and the loving was all me. I bottle fed her for 3 months. I brushed her, cuddled her, talked to her. She went from the size of a labrodor to about the size of a great dane and now she is about 500 pounds.

Last year, we realized how lonely herd animals get without a herd. Sweetums needed friends. We got 3 baby goats (from the sister dairy that Sweetums was born at)and almost immediately, she became their mother. All for the milk that is. (No, cows are not born giving milk. They get it the same way humans do.) We bottle fed the goats as well. Now our herd of 4 spends their days happily walking the pasture, chewing cud, and generally conducting themselves in a manner that I refer to as "foolishness and mayhem."

Sweetums still knows me as her mother. I can brush her and pet her and talk to her and she listens. I love to watch her mother the goats, because she is so much like a human mother. She worries about them, makes sure they are staying with her, but she also takes a break from them when she needs it. And she'll lower her head on them and use her horns if she has to.

Well the time has come now for Sweetums to start earning her keep. It is time for her to get pregnant, deliver a healthy calf, and give us the white gold we've been waiting so long for. I have called around as best as I could trying to find a way to get her pregnant. It hasn't been easy. Vets, ranchers, dairies, internet searches... nothin. Sweet husband suggested last night, "Why don't we put it on craigslist?" He posted a wanted ad for an AI technician for a Jersey calf. And within 1 hour, we received an email with a name and number of AI tech in our area. And this afternoon we got a phone call from Tony. And Tony is coming on Tuesday.

Let me go ahead and answer some questions I know you all have:
1. She is going to be artificially inseminated with Jersey semen, so her calf will be small and pure bred.
2. She will carry her calf for 9 months 10 days.
3. She will have milk after the calf is born.

I am very nervous. I am very excited. I am already laughing at the "foolishness and mayhem" that will ensue during the ordeal. Don't worry, pictures and the full disclosure of the story will follow!