Here are Sweet Pea (I know, I know…I shouldn’t name her, but I did.) and her new mom Monday afternoon.
Harland had driven Mom into the headgate – no easy task since Mom now HATES Harland for doing this to her over and over every day twice a day. Anywho, after he got Mom secured and fed her some grain, we brought out the calf who went to Mom and started nursing. She wasn’t doing a very good job though – latching on but not sucking very hard.
This went on for about 20 minutes.
Finally Harland brought her around to the other side of Mom.
We watched as she continued to dawdle about not getting much milk.
Mom became impatient. She ran out of grain and began to toss her empty grain pan about bad-temperedly. She shook her head and tried to escape from the headgate. So Harland gave her more grain. And when she ate that and began to stomp and toss her pan around again, he gave her more. She was acting like a very rude restaurant customer.
Meanwhile, Sweet Pea finally latched onto a teat and began to suck for all she was worth.
It was like a light bulb went on. “Hey, there’s a lot of milk in this bag, why didn’t anyone tell me??”
We watched with relief as her tummy filled out. And Lo and Behold, for the first time, Mom let out a low moo.
Little quiet reassuring Moos.
“I love you my little darling calf”
“Oh, my adorable cutie! I can’t wait to lick you and clean you and take care of you!”
We stood and watched in disbelief. Was she really talking to the calf? Really? After three days of working to make them a pair?
And we knew right then all was going to be well. Harland released Mom back into the barn and Sweet Pea explored the head gate.
“My tummy is full.”
“I know dear. You finally figured out how to nurse. Now put your tongue back in your mouth.”
“Watch what I can do.”
“Oh…Yes…how nice for you. Very talented.”
“Are you proud of me?”
“Absolutely…you did a wonderful job – on both nursing and nose cleaning.”
Harland put Sweet Pea in an adjoining pen in the barn next door to Mom, just to be on the safe side.
Yesterday morning he got Mom back in the headgate (no small feat as she really REALLY REALLY hates his guts now) and brought out the Sweet Pea to nurse. All went well. So in the evening, we simply opened the gate and turned Sweet Pea into the same pen with Mom. We fed Mom some grain and Sweet Pea went to work nursing. Mom licked her little foster baby and didn’t kick or hurt her in any way, so we left them alone for the night.
Harland will turn them out of the barn into a little lot today, and if all goes well, they’ll go out to pasture in another day or so. Into the sun and onto the brown grass that is slowly showing a tiny bit of green. What a pleasure for Mom and Sweet Pea to pair up and have each other. It makes all the work and worry SOOOO worth it.