This weekend was exciting – Chestnut’s long-awaited calf was finally born!
She had missed her first “due window” for when she was AI’d, so we figure that this calf is our bull Explorer’s. Explorer is half Devon, half Jersey. The calf has a Devon face, but certainly the Jersey lanky legs. He is also much larger than a Devon calf, as they tend to be very small.
On Thursday we thought Chestnut might be in labor. She was lying down, chewing her cud and stopping to softly moan a little now and then. So on Friday, we were disappointed to find she was still pregnant.
There was a lot of crazy drama then, too, because Isla was in one of her “crazy eyes” moods and was running all over the pasture, kicking and being a maniac. Maybe she was in heat or something? While we were looking at Chestnut and trying to determine if she was in labor or not, Explorer came over and started poking Chestnut around with his horns.
The way cows fight is to lock horns and push each other. The winner will often push the smaller, weaker cow to the ground. It is a show of strength, balance and skill. And, of course, it was not what we wanted Explorer to do to the expectant mother. He was pushing her all around through a plum thicket, and it was very worrisome. The last thing she needed right then was a broken leg or something. We thought maybe he saw his chance right then to establish dominance, something he has been very eager to do now that Meathead is in the freezer. He and Meathead were always vying with each other, and Meathead always won.
Ethan was also worried, so he grabbed a sturdy stick and gave Explorer a few good whacks on the flanks to get him to stop. He didn’t of course, but it distracted him enough that Chestnut was able to throw him several feet through the air, into the plum thicket, where he landed on his side and she went over and gored his belly a bunch. Served him right!
Then we separated the cows from Explorer and brought them down to the milking area. I was afraid for my life with the way stupid Isla went charging down, horns and all. We let them calm down, and I milked Matilda before we sorted Chestnut out and led everyone else back – except for Flora and Sampson, because we had had to chase them out of the growing rye pastures, which they were eager to prematurely graze to nothing. Sampson is actually looking good now that he has been sorted out from the big girls. I suspect they never let him get enough hay.
So on Friday when we went out, there he was! Just being licked off, and the afterbirth still was not out. Chestnut is a wonderful mother. She licked and licked his thick, soft fur beautifully clean and made soft mama cow mooing noises to him. Because he was born so close to December, we wanted to name him something for the holidays. I had wanted to call him Holly, but Ethan didn’t like that. He liked Mountjoy, after a Washington Irving story he was reading. I thought that was awful. Finally Rose came up with Nutcracker, and that seemed right for Chestnut’s baby.