Friday, October 29, 2010
This is my girl, home in our pasture. Dorie is a redish coloured meat cow, possibly some kind of Hereford/Limousin cross. She was my birthday present two years ago. I know, some people would not appreciate a meat cow as a present, but that's just the kind of girl I am.
We bought Dorie at auction, bred. She was pretty shy, but had a taste for corn, so it wasn't too long before she would munch out of a bucket we held, and let us pet her. She got fatter, from February, through spring. We were very excited to see her calve. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of luck. About a month before she was due, she got kicked by a nasty horse we had for a short time, and went into premature labour. The calf was breached, and things weren't going well. We had some help from a neighbour, and managed to get the calf out eventually, still born.
We milked her. Yup, no kidding.
The neighbours said don't do it. She'll be too nasty & impatient. The hay guy said don't do it. She'll only give 1/2 a cup of milk a day. It won't be worth your time.
We said phooey on them. Where did the family milk cow come from any way? In the pioneer days, folks didn't generally keep a bunch of different breeds. They were lucky to have any multipurpose cow, and drink the milk, make cheese, and raise the calves for beef. Dorie was the only cow we owned. We milked her.
And for the record, she either took to milking like a pro, or beef calves drink a whole lot more than people realize. Dorie gave us an easy 4L per day at her peak. We drank lots of raw milk. We made some paneer cheese, but didn't care for the texture. We made butter, about a pound every 4 days. We used the buttermilk in bread. We made yogourt. We drank a lot of milk... For about three months.
Then Dorie got frisky. Well, horny, to be blunt. She broke out of the pasture three times, and walked about 5 miles, through the bush, to the hay guy's farm. She made some friends there, but he didn't have a bull, so it didn't cure her condition. He told us she was lonely, and we needed more cows. Winter came, and she stayed put. Until the first nice, sun shiny day of spring.
We still had about three feet of snow, but the tricky girl broke out, and followed the snowmobile trails back to the hay guy's farm. We left her there for a couple of weeks. We went back to the auction and bought Mindy and Maddy- two Hereford heifers, and Susie, another bred cow, a Charolais. That kept her happy for a bit.
Until we lost Susie. She died during delivery in the middle of the night. Her first calf, Nelly, came out fine. She had a second calf who was breached. We lost them both. Nelly is still doing great!
A few weeks after Nelly was born, Dorie decided she'd had enough of hanging out with these young 'uns. Her escape was aided by #1, who forgot to chain a gate. Nelly stayed put, but Mindy & Maddy decided to follow Dorie off on her adventure. We chased them down, managed to get them halfway home twice, but they kept veering off into the bush. Mindy got seperated. We eventually caught up to Dorie and Maddy, and convinced them to walk into the neighbour's pasture. Mindy remained missing for awhile.
The plan had been to send Dorie to the neighbour's to be bred anyway. She just decided to head out that way on her own a little sooner than planned. Mindy came home all on her own later that night. Maddy spent the summer at the neighbour's with Dorie.
We finally brought Dorie home last week. She's not as friendly as she used to be, but I'm sure it won't be too long before she decides she likes us again. I am so happy to have her home! The pasture just wasn't the same without her!