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Monday, June 4, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have a Cow!

In case you don't remember the silent auction excitement that resulted in our purchase of a yet unborn heifer calf, you can relive the magic HERE.

That's right, another claim to fame:  I've purchased livestock on a silent auction.

The end of May rolled around and it was time to go pick out our heifer.  Remember, we won the pick of the 2012 heifer crop!  Just like a Super Bowl, I studied my playbook.  I called in experts.  I reviewed what I already knew.  And I prayed.  (Not necessarily in that order, mind you.)

A man by the name of Gearld Fry is a genius when it comes to cattle.  And Mr. Fry says you can tell everything you need to know about a calf the day it's born.  I made a list of all the traits he said you can see on a young calf and I went shopping!

We dropped the kids off for a day at Grandma's and Hubby and I headed out on our great adventure.  This was not just date night, this was date DAY.  As we drove along, we talked and dreamed and commented on the farms we saw along the way.

Finally, we arrived.  Breathless with anticipation.  (Or perhaps just breathless from stretching our stiff muscles...one cannot know.)  Dave and Florence, the owners and donors of our calf were just as nice as they could be.  They also do pastured pork and shared with us that their first batch of pigs escaped the electric fence as well...only they never caught one of them!  He spent the whole summer roaming the surrounding farms and hanging out with the cows in the pasture.  Dave and Florence noticed that he was larger than the pigs they had in the pen that were fed grain.  This pig was eating lots of grasses and was nursing on the cows.  Boy, watch the animal and they will teach!  Turns out that pasture and milk is an excellent diet for pastured pork.  I love happy accidents...

We went to the heifer pen.  These calves were all about two months old and freshly weaned.  They had been with their mothers for those two months, learning to be cows and fed naturally.  These cows are 100% grass fed and organic, as pure as it gets!

As I walked through the heifers (about 18 of them), I found two that I really liked.  One of the characteristics that Mr. Fry says to always look for is a bald udder.  I've been around a lot of cattle in my life, but I didn't know how bald was BALD.  I could see the teats on these two heifers, was that bald enough?

Then a smaller heifer walked in front of the group, she was not of the finalists.  She took a large step with her right hind leg and there I saw it.  Like a beacon in the night.  A BALD UDDER!  

I gasped and quickly ran down the other characteristics that Mr. Fry recommends:  hair whorl between the eyes - check, fat roll in front of the udder - check, deep chested and carries that back to her flank - check, small boned yet structurally correct - check, shiny coat and particularly the stripe down her back - check, wide and long escutcheon mirror - check, yellow wax in ears - CHECK!  This was the one!

Her name is Karlek, which is Swedish for "love".  Named for the heart-shaped white patch on her forehead.

All of the characteristics we were looking for indicate that she will do well on grass and will produce milk with high butterfat.  The butterfat is where all the nutrition is, which is why skim milk is nothing but sugar water.

Her breeding is mixed:  mostly Ayrshire with some Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss mixed in.  We didn't want a purebred, we wanted a functional grass-fed dairy cow.  

And because I know you all will want to know what a truly BALD udder looks like: 

1 comment:

  1. Ha! She's beautiful, Annie! So excited for you!!!


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