Sunday, February 8, 2009

Chucky Joe is home

On Monday, January 26, we brought Chucky Joe home. Chucky is our 8-month old calf. Josey had become lonely during Chucky’s absence. The week prior to Thanksgiving, I took him to a friend’s farm to stay for a while. I wanted him weaned, but he had a problem recognizing the fact that he wasn’t supposed to climb over the fence. Granted, he only went over the fence in one place where I needed to fix it, but all the same, we didn’t want him getting to momma and taking all the milk. It was becoming more difficult with how we have things set up here to keep him separate from Josey. So, we packed him up and took him away.

Two months later I figured he ought to be well weaned and would no longer try to nurse. That, and Josey was lonely. She needed a companion. So, the children and I headed over to bring him home. He led out of our friend’s pasture just fine and loaded on the trailer with no problems. When I unloaded him near our barn, he recognized where he was and seemed excited to be home. He called out, and his momma answered him right away. As I took him around the barn, Josey excitedly came out of the barn with a special skip in her step. I let Chucky go and stayed to watch the reunion.

They were happy to see one another. They sniffed each other, and, then, Chucky decided he needed to nurse. Two months wasn’t long enough after all. I dissuaded him from nursing, but he continued to try. So, I locked him in a separate stall, not wanting to sacrifice the evening’s milking to a calf too old to need to nurse but too young to know better.
I went into town and bought a calf weaner from the feed store. It attaches to the calf’s nose and is supposed to make it difficult for him to get to his momma’s teats. It also has some tabs that are meant to poke the momma a little bit so that she will kick the calf off when he tries to nurse. Well, when I put it on Chucky and put him with Josey, he still figured a way to nurse. Figuring that the one I bought may have been too small, I returned to the feed store and bought the larger one. It seemed to work when I first put it on him. But, later in the evening, it was clear that he had figured out how to nurse with it on anyway.

In some ways, this worked out well. Anne and I made our trip to Michigan, and while we were gone, I left the weaner off of Chucky and just let him nurse. This meant that Dad didn’t have to do the milking. He wasn’t disappointed in this deprivation, either. Once we returned, I reattached the weaner to Chucky’s nose, figuring maybe it would at least slow him down. I was just going to separate him at night so that I would have the morning’s milk until I could get another weaner of a different design. However, somewhere in the first day or two after we returned, he decided it just wasn’t worth his trouble. He no longer tries to nurse. I’ve left the weaner on him, though, but it’s nice that we’re still able to milk twice a day as we really appreciate the cream, the milk, and the yogurt we make on a regular basis.

Josey and Chucky seem happy together. Contentment has returned to the barn now that Josey has the companion she needs.


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