Following from yesterday everyday on the farm is different, brings many new experiences and things to do, some of them good and some of them bad. Late yesterday afternoon I was sitting doing book work (there is always book work) when I hear the Beeeeeeeeeeeep beeeeeeeeeeeeeep of the Ute. It roars around the back of the house and I realize he is looking to get my attention, which he got, so by the time he is out of the Ute I am out of the back door. I have not got to pull my work boots on (we leave work shoes out of the house to lessen the dirt being walked in) when he yells “I have a calf for you to feed”. I stop what I am doing and head back into the kitchen, pull over the chair and get into the top cupboard to reach for bottles, get to the plastics drawer (always a shambles) and shuffle through to find the teats and the screw tops that hold the teats down. I then get the powdered formula read the instructions and run the water till it’s warm (they drink warm milk like they would from their mum – they don’t like cold milk and mix up enough for about 4 feeds. I have no idea how old it is but am guessing it may be 1 to 4 days old.
All of the dogs get interested when they see the bottle, they know it contains milk, I sometimes in the freezing of winter give them warm milk on their dog nuts in order to boost their weight and give them energy for the work they do during the day. So they know what the bottle contains, Pete the Golden retriever follows me to the specially made secure arena Chris built years ago to protect them from dogs and other wild life, confine them, so we know where they are and it’s easier to feed them and to give them security, they have a wind break and it can hold up to 4 or 5 without an issue.
He is a tiny one, I know it’s a baby bull as the pizzle is evident, this is the small tuff of hair that hangs in the middle of the abdomen where the penis comes out when it’s older. Cows don’t have this for obvious reasons. He arrives mooing loudly, with a blue-collar on him which indicates the farmer had identified him earlier as being solo in the paddocks, so he would have placed him with cows that looked like they had calved and hoped that he re mothered up, so bringing him here is a last resort. They can do well-being hand reared or they sometimes die. Cattle are herd animals and as such form bonds of friendship and love, so having them solo always makes it a struggle to survive especially in this weather. he also has a cord attached to the collar where the farmer would have been able to lead him (much like a dog on a leash) to the Ute and then into the pen.
I feel his stomach it is full, so that is good he probably has had some colostrum from his mum and started building up his immune system, this is similar in colour (yellowish) and consistency (think) much like a human mum. It’s also important for the calf to have had it, though they can do as well if they do not get it. I take the lead off him and leave the collar on, he makes very loud noises at me and I walk slowly to him and place my finger in his mouth, this is to see if he has a suckling mechanism happening. If they are hungry they latch on and suck if they are tiny and not quite initiated to their mothers teats they try to push your finger away with their tongue. He had a small suckling reflex so I rub my finger on his upper palate and he starts to do the motion, I get about 50 mils into him.
He follows me as I walk out and then goes to sit down, having a mooing calf in the yards brings a tribe of onlookers – mainly the cats and Pete the Retriever, they do not see these beautiful animals up close often so when they do they are curious. They circle the cage and climb trees to look at what is going on. He is a very gentle calf, sometimes they bunt you and chase you for food but he did not. I then sent out a request for a name to nieces and nephews, I like to name them as I get to spend much time with them feeding them.
We have lots of great options for his name but on face book the one that got the most ticks was from my niece Naomi, he shall be now known as “Jack”