Actually, I have counted my blessings that it worked out not having calves this spring. It would have been a cold and muddy time to to be born this spring-- with all the deep mud, the poor babies would have had a miserable and possibly dangerous time getting around. And milking such a cow would have been horrible this muddy, muddy spring- I would have had to essentially give her a bath before every milking session.
So now I have been agonizing over whether to sell the cows. Hay is going to be very costly this winter, if you can even get it. Although I can't really afford to have 2 "pet" cows if they will cost $15 a day to feed, I could get a part time job to support them (yes, that is the kind of farmer I am!) but I am worried about even being able to obtain the hay. What if I can't find enough hay to get through the winter!!? I don't want to sell just one cow and have an only cow --they are herd animals. It will probably be a challenge to sell two cows that are open and not in milk. And it is time to consider breeding them for next spring, decisions about semen have to be made in the next week or so so it can be delivered in time for their next heat cycle. Being bred would make them more salable, probably, but if I can't sell them, then I face possibly having 4 animals in the spring! These are things I have been weighing many times a day as I consider the options.
Well, night before last when I led them back to the main pasture LaFonda's back quarters looked very swollen. I have never heard of a cow getting mastitis when they are not lactating, but I put my hand on her udder to make sure it wasn't feverish or hard. It was soft and full, and with the mildest touch, milk came out! What the heck?!!
This morning when I gave the cows their little treat of grain, I tried "bumping" LaFonda. You push in sharply with the palm of your hand on the right side of the cow at a certain spot. If there is a calf in there, it will bump you back. I have tried this when our cows were pregnant before and never had any success, but I read up on it and found diagrams to make sure I had the technique right. When I pushed in the first time, nothing; I did it again and was shocked to see a bump bulge back out at me!! There IS a calf in there!
I can't deny, I am kind of delighted by this crazy development. A darling little calf!! And with these parents, it should be beautiful and have a fantastic, gentle disposition. Yes, kind of weird that it would be the product of an incestuous relationship, but I understand in the world of cattle breeding that pairing is not unheard of when trying to emphasize certain traits. And LaFonda herself is a mutt, so at least she is not highly inbred.
So, I must get to work! Because I knew I wasn't having any calves this year, I have transformed the miking parlor into storage for my beekeeping and sculpture supplies. I have a lot of reorganizing to do! And rethinking about how to get hay or whether to sell any cows...