Well, it’s been a noisy week on Hope Refuge Farm. BoPeep did not like losing her young’un! Not that I really enjoyed leaving mine behind either, but at least I didn’t scream my head off for 3 days after getting him settled in at college. But all in all things went pretty smoothly with weaning, in spite of the bellowing. Here’s how our week went.
The cow herd had been moved to a newly fenced pasture paddock on the “horse side” of the farm before we left for Michigan. So Friday (Sept. 2) evening I brought Bo, Hershey & Chuck (Eavie’s steer calf from last year) back to the cow barn. I penned Bo in the barn corral like I normally had been for milking in the morning, and put the two boys in the front yard-turned-pasture paddock. I knew things would go better if Hershey had a friend to keep him company, and even though Chucky is about 9 months older than Hershey they’re about the same size & get along great.
Friday night & Saturday morning were accompanied by Bo’s normal, loud complaining, and Sat. we had a normal milking with Hershey there to help out. What was different, was that afterwards Hershey went back out to play with Chuck, and Bo was let out in the cow barn pasture….across the driveway from her beloved baby. It’s as close to fenceline weaning as I can get right now, and although they can’t sniff noses through the fence, they can see each other all the time. This is supposed to be the least stressful method for weaning, and Hershey didn’t seem too upset about the whole thing. It wasn’t long until I was completely fed up with Bo’s constant bellowing, though. I thought perhaps she was more upset about being by herself away from the rest of the cows than anything, so I returned her to the herd & she did quiet down…some. She & Hershey could not see each other at all that way, and called back & forth to each other a bit, but she definitely seemed happier back with the herd.
Through the first half of the week, I was bringing Hershey into the parlor at milking time. Bo would let down for the milker as soon as I brought him in the door, so I didn’t let him nurse at all until we were completely done. Wednesday & Thursday I didn’t even bring him the whole way in. I tied him in the aisleway outside the parlor door & gave him his feed bucket there. After I was done milking, I took him back out to the pasture without nursing at all. Friday & Saturday after I hooked the milker up to Bo, I took Hershey & Chucky their buckets out in the paddock. When I returned…alone…to the parlor, the milk was already flowing nicely into the milker. Hurray!
Saturday after milking, I didn’t return Bo to the herd but turned her out in the barn corral. It was the Big Day….CC & Stephanie were coming to take Hershey to his new home. Since they don’t yet have any cow friends for Hershey, Chucky was also going along to keep him company for awhile. I wanted Bo to be where she could see what was going on, so she would understand that he was leaving. The boys loaded into the trailer fairly easily through a temporary loading chute Jeff made outside the wood fence with a few tubular fence panels. Bo was very attentive to what was going on, and when the truck & trailer started out the driveway past her she called loudly to Hershey & frantically tried to get out the corral gate.
Now that she knows he’s gone though, BoPeep is quietly settled back in with the herd. She is giving a gallon and a half of milk every morning with this once a day milking routine. And life goes on without her little Hershey.