More cow tails

Really, we just bought a herd of Dexter cows to add to our herd numbers and if you count them all, each one has one tail, you get a grand total of 55 tails out there. Of course some are steers and some are going to be sold as we also have a raft of calves on the way starting next month. But we have one special cow whom we hope to be able to keep until old age.

This little story is really not about cow tails but about a true cow tale involving one of our special cows. That cow is named Melanie and she is one of our two favorite Dexter cows. The other is Maddy and they are both very much alike in appearance although Maddy is a little less aggressive than Melanie. Both are jet black, short leg cows and both are quite friendly, like to eat and are always the first one to cross the gate to new pasture or get to the feeder when fresh chow is put in. These two cows are the same age and grew up together and are still best friends 5 years later.

Anyway Melanie I call the ultimate mother cow. You see Melanie is very much interested in and caring of not only her own calf but everyone else’s calves as well. For instance in the spring I generally pasture my cows near the barn and every so often they come into the barn to get a drink of water leaving their calves in the pasture. Calves spend a lot of time sleeping and as they get a little older will often wander away from their mother to do some relaxing in the sun, romping and playing with each other or as I said taking a nap. Of course if the separation is too long momma fills up with milk and wants relief and then she get real serious about finding her calf to do the job. When the cows leave the pasture to go to the barn the calves are left behind and Melanie ever watchful and responsible will stay with them in the pasture and watch the nursery until the mother cows return.

On occasion a late calving cow will drop her calf in the pasture and I will go out, put it in a sled and slowly drag it back to the barn with the mother cow following us in or should I say following the sled. Cows bond to their calves by smell and the cow follows the smell of her new born as I drag it back to the barn. Melanie however gets real upset at this event and will come a running from where ever she is in the pasture to see what is going on. Her ears will be up on full alert as she gallops over to get in the act of shepherding the sled to the barn, Sometimes a little too close and often is as much or more interested in the new calf as the birth mother.

As the calves grow they like to drink mamma’s milk and when she runs out will often look for more from other cows in the herd. But the cows know which calf is their’s and push the others away saving their milk for their own. Not so with Momma Melanie. She is the community milk man and does not discriminate between her own calf and her little group of friends and charges. It’s not unusual to see two calves drinking from her at the same time.

When we got Malanie as a young heifer she, unbeknown to us had been bred and subsequently dropped her calf in the corner of one of our field. We found her black heifer calf dead the next morning with Malanie grazing nearby.

Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Is she trying to make up for the disappointment and failure she had as a young cow in not properly caring for her first calf? What ever the reason her love of the little ones engenders a warm love in my heart for Malanie and she is a great cow to have in our herd, a built in baby sitter and more. She is our special cow.