I was watching the calves intermingle, play, butt heads, chase one another, and sleep together. I realized there were so many colors of calves out there.
If you recall, some of those heifers Leland ended up purchasing came to us bred (pregnant). Of the 20, 13 have had their calves (aren’t you really impressed that I’m using proper terminology? Me too!). I actually had to go back to the earlier post, Cattle Known By Any Name Is Still Steak to Me, for me to remember what these heifers were called – AND then found out I had one more name to add – just COWS (mature). They’ve had more than two babies.
Now our white Romagnola mamas were bred by a black Angus bull. You would think their baby’s would come out black. But no.
They came out all sorts of colors – brown, black, black-red, blackish, brown-red-black, grey-silver, and one light brownish. And we already had fawn, fawn-fading and fawn-white because she’s shedding (click on pix to enlarge).
And the important thing? They don’t see color.
They make friends no matter what color they are. Cattle doesn’t care. They enjoy playing and enjoy each others’ company (hmm, as humans, we could take a lesson).
And no, they aren’t playing Ring Around the Rosie.
I have learned calves are amazingly NOSY. They are simply introducing themselves to a new calf.
Nosy. Some actually want him to take their pictures!
And then you see something like this. I hate to tell you that Alpha Hubby had named one Poopy Head – can you guess why? And yes, neither one stop nursing backwards simply because Mom doesn’t care he/she’s back there.
In 2005 there was a movie entitled “The Island.” The story was of people living within a type of bio-dome, supposedly due to contamination outside the dome. They were all waiting to be picked in a lottery. The prize was a ticket to “The Island” – something greatly coveted. Screens around the bio-dome would play scenes from this island getaway. It was a beautiful place and everyone wanted to go.
If you haven’t seen the movie and want to, I don’t want to ruin it for you. You may want to skip on down to paragraph 5 starting with “What”.
The truth was, The Island was a non-existent place. When one’s lottery number came up, it was because… ready? They were clones of real people who lived on the outside of the bio-dome, in the real world. These clones were created as insurance for wealthy people who had purchased the scientific ability to create a complete clone of themselves.
When something went wrong for the wealthy person – they became deathly ill, they lost a body part, or they were dying of old age – the clone “won” the lottery and was use as spare parts – or a complete overhaul – of the wealthy person’s body. Thus the wealthy person could keep on living, the clone died and everyone else assumed the clone was living happily ever after on The Island.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with Lilybird Ranch cattle? Well, a lot!
People often ask me how I handle when the steers are sent to the processor for the freezer beef sales. It’s easy – I just think of them going to The Island for Steers, and tell them so.
I tell them they are going to love The Island for Steers. It is a place where other steers frolic in meadows of alfalfa and clover. They’ll dance, run, butt heads, and play. They’ll eat to their heart’s content. It’s a wondrous place. They assume they are going to a beautiful place living happily after on The Island for Steers and it makes them happy steers.
HEY! To each his own. Or in this case, her own. It’s MY world so just let me enjoy my fantasy. It’s how I cope.
Oh OK – truth is, I did have a problem the very first time we.. um.. processed a steer for our own freezer. It was a lesson in NOT naming your steer personal names and bonding with them.
I was sad because Wooly had a fun personality and I liked watching him. He was my first.
I had a problem for a hamburger or two – until I ate an amazing rib eye steak. Then it was like, “Wooly who?”
You do become attached to the cattle, no doubt. Leland interacts with them more than I do, feeding them their sweet feed, talking to them, scratching their heads. It’s hard for him because they bond with one another and he knows they’re going to The Island soon. He likes them all; well, except for the one steer who thought he’d take on Leland, trying to butt him, giving him an Alpha Death Stare.
HA! Leland perfected the Alpha Death Stare. I’m proud to say (bwahaha), he out-stared that pushy steer, along with giving him verbal threats. You know, like, “You wanna piece of me?” and “You wanna take me on?” or “I’ll show you who’s boss.” Fun times (snicker)!
The benefit this year is that, because of our increase in calves (up to 14 now), he will soon have more steers to bond with. That will take away the sting of those who are being sent to The Island in June.
The cycle of life. The way God created it to be.
On a ranch, one experiences that circle more often than other people do. But it’s all good. One good steak and I’m like, “Steers who??”
So. The other day I learned a little something about sending Leland to look at cattle for sale. It’s dangerous.
A rancher called him and asked if Leland was interested in buying some of his Romagnola cows. Remember, cows are girls who’ve had babies. Women cows.
So he calls me on the way back from the guy’s ranch and I asked,
“Did you find anything you liked?”
There was a long silence, his side.
“Um, yeah,” he replies. “I bought… um, fourteen.”
Long silence, my side.
“OK,” I said, “explain this to me? You went to buy one or two!”
It seemed the man liked Leland and decided to sell all of his cows in this one section to Leland. He quoted a great price and while they were older cows, they had all the Italian genetics we’ve been looking for. In other words, those closer to the original cattle that came here to the U.S. from Italy via Great Britain and Scotland in the early 70’s.
So he came home with 19 cows and – ready? A promise that he’d have first choice with his remaining herd, 19 of them – which the seller called about the next week and Leland ended up purchasing – along with 7 others.
I don’t know if this guy is just a great salesman or Leland’s a rube or it was meant to be. Oh OK, I know – it was meant to be. They are a perfect addition to our herd and catapulted us to closer to where we want our herd to be.
So now you see why this is an apt title – we gained 40 cows from that one short road trip to check out a few available cattle.
Oh, and did I say that they’re pregnant? Now we have twelve of these up above on the ground, running around, chasing one another, butting heads, butting posts, butting hay bales and flinging the hay everywhere (which is why there is hay all over the ground), butting Leland (well, trying to), and hiding from their mamas. I don’t have many pictures of them yet but they’re a hoot.
Like our ill-fated characters in the Shakespeare classic, Romoo-oh and Juliette are a tail… oops, tale almost too sad to tell.
Our lovebirds – um – cows – met a few weeks ago. The boys had been alone for a long, long time. One day, four beautiful red-headed divas were delivered to the ranch. They were English beauties.
Romoo-oh, the Italian hottie, took one look and was hooked. He had never seen anyone like Juliette. He followed her everywhere. He glared at his brothers, mooing them away. Juliette was HIS!
He took her to the local eatery. Together, they defied all smirks and snarky comments about their differences.
Romoo-oh could care less that Juliette’s friends tried to talk her out of seeing him. He knew she wouldn’t listen. He was in luv!
Romoo-oh had no problem with PDA. He did not care that others stared or turned their backs on them.
In turn, Juliette had no problem mooing her love for Romoo-oh. No matter what her friends said, she was in luv.
Juliette even stared down her unsupportive girlfriend, who lowered her head in shame.
Alas, unlike Shakespeare’s lovers, Romoo-oh proved to be faithless. Romoo-oh suddenly saw another beauty he was interested in and Juliette was destined for another. Romoo-oh’s disinterest could have to do with her going out of heat, but who knows?
Juliette’s head will soon be turned in our tale (when she’s old enough). She will catch the eye of LB Renovator, a studly bull. A macho bull. An older bull. He will flex his mighty muscles and Juliette will suddenly realize the difference between Ken and GI Joe.
Especially since Romoo-oh’s love is always destined to fail. He is a steer.
And thus are the love stories on a ranch – you win some, you lose some – but there are always new babies in late Spring!
I’ve been asked by former city-fied friends what it is like being married to my husband. Most of the people asking are pretty much people like me. If they stepped in a cow-paddy, it was certainly by accident. And they would be wondering why there was a cow wandering in the city.
When I married my husband umpty-squat years ago, he was an Engineer at the nuclear plant. That was where we met so it was a safe assumption that he was an Engineer.
Boy was I wrong. A couple of years into our marriage I found out that he wanted to get back to raising cattle, only this time he wanted to do it God’s way. Now me? Did I see myself around cattle? Not so much.