Down on the Farm
By Patty Wilber
So, I bought five Angus-cross cows Mar. 6. Price of cows has been through the roof (due to a decrease in cows in the US–been sold to Japan, and the price of feed…amazing how you can sound like you know what you are talking about if you ask enough questions and then repeat back…)
Three were “three stripers” and two were “late two stripers”, according to the to the preg checker (via the seller). “They”ll all calve within 45 days.”
“Three stripes” means they are in the third trimester and “two stripes” means there are in the, yes, you guessed it, second trimester. Gestation in cows is 9 months.
Hmmm. There’s a problem right there. The two stripers are gonna take at least 90 days. Buyer: PAY ATTENTION! (Well, in self defense, there is a learning curve.)
A “preg checker” is a person you hire to stick their hand up the nether region (rectum) of the cow to feel if the cow is pregnant, and if so, determine the calf size. This indicates how far along they are. If you want details, click here.
This preg checker also does teeth, and according to him (via the seller), I have three three year olds and two four year olds. I haven’t got second opinion on those facts!
Cow Red 4, which is now Blue 11 (more on that later), had her calf immediately. The rest of them…um NOT!
I have been (not so) patiently waiting.
The cows are heading to the high country to spend the summer, in just a few weeks. The heavily pregnant cows will not be able to hike in with the rest of the herd. They are either going to have to go to a cow way station to have their calves and then hitch a ride in, or they are going to have to be trucked in, still pregnant.
Fortunately, my four are not the only hold outs. There are three or four others.
Once you buy cows, they MUST be branded with your brand within 30 days of purchase. They do not have to be ear tagged, but many are, to make it easier to tell them apart.
To get a brand in New Mexico, you go down to the livestock office, check out the brand book to make sure you are not copying a brand in use, fill out a form, draw three possible brands, choose a location on the cow (L or R, shoulder, body or hip) and pay money.
In 30 days or less, you get a brand! And a brand certificate (suitable for framing…well not really that nice) AND a plastic card you can keep in your wallet.
The brand is good for three years. Sort of. Brand fees are due every three years, but ALL the brand fees are due at the exact same time. I got a new brand in March 2011 for $75 (the OLD three year fee). But all brands have to be renewed July 2011, for $100. Pro-rating? Not a chance.
To view NM brands, click here and then type in a name.
Here is my brand (also good for horses):
Here is my brand on a cow.
My cows were branded, vaccinated, treated with an anti-louse agent, and re-ear-tagged. The old tags were hand written and fading. Plus, I liked the blue color!
The bull calves were banded. This will make them steers by cutting off the circulation to their testes.
I went to visit them Wednesday and arrived around 5 pm. I try to go to the farm 1 or 2 times/week. I usually take two or three horses with me and today I took T, Buckshot and Penny.
A front was blowing in from the southwest, dropping off the Manzano Mountains and zipping across the plains (where the farm is). The wind was horrendous and it was trying (not very hard) to rain. I was able to count 24 (three were mine) of 36 cows on my way in and saw another bunch to the south. (There are also around 22 calves, one of which is mine.)
I unloaded (and the trailer door about blew off), tied Penny and Buckshot and got on T. We had a few words about what he was and was not able to do, on his own, in a gale.
I won. I was somewhat sympathetic as the wind was blowing so hard it seemed to be moving his feet around when he picked them up!
We made it to the southern group and there were 12 cows (2 were mine). All animals present and accounted for.
Cows are herd animals (duh). What has surprised me is how closely they seem to bond. For the last 2 months, every time I have checked, my 5 have been together. This was the first time I’ve seen them split up.
I took a picture of my calf, and the weather, worked T a bit to reinforce “who’s the boss” and rather than ride the other two in the miserable conditions, loaded up and drove home (35 miles). Got there around 7 pm.
It was calm at my house (nestled behind the Sandia Mountains and NOT on the plains) with only a raindrop or two, so what the heck.