Cavorting Calves

We’ve had the calves about 2 1/2 weeks now. Each has gotten sick, and Melissa has nursed each one back to health. We’ve trained three of the four to drink from a bucket.

This involves letting the calf suck on your fingers, then immersing your hand in the milk and trying to keep the calf’s head in the bucket long enough he sucks milk up between your fingers. You feel as if your entire arm is being sucked into the calf’s mouth. Oh, and they now have lower teeth—massive white “Chiclet” teeth, only sharp. You repeat this process twice a day for about 3 days and they finally get it. Number 1, the youngest, is still on a bottle, but I’m gonna tackle that problem this weekend. My hand just hurts thinking about it.

Today it’s 65 degrees and sunny, so it’s time to get them out of their pens and used to being outside the barn. So I opened up the pens and got out of the way.


What we’ve been told: Jersey calves are skinny, so we’re not to be alarmed. About 4 farmers have warned us not to overfeed Jersey calves because they can get really sick. So the three brown guys in these photos look leaner than I’d like, but what do I know about cattle? Not much yet.


They’re a bit unsteady on their legs still, especially on uneven ground. They take a tumble, then leap right up and go again.



I’m just guessing, but I think these four calves are going to like it here. Once they’re weaned off milk and have learned to eat grass, they’ll have 53 acres to explore over the next 2 years. That experience will be good for them, good for the land, good for us, and good for our customers.

After an hour of running around, the calves all wandered back into the pens for naps, which made my job of re-penning them ridiculously easy. Of course No. 4 was in No. 2’s pen, and No. 1 was in No. 3’s pen, but I got everything sorted out. The best way to lead a calf from the wrong pen to the right one?

Let it suck on your fingers, of course.

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