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Family Planning on the Farm

February 6, 2022

Mark your calendars for two events: St. Patrick's Day at the Farm on Saturday, March 12, and Easter on the Farm on Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Find out more here.

How it's supposed to work

Here's how things are supposed to work here on Miles Smith Farm:

We put Ferdinand, our bull, in with the cows in August so that the resulting calves will be born in March or April, so their mothers have months and months of free grass to eat to produce lots of milk for the babies. Also, the steers, who have been surgically disqualified as breeders, should be uninterested in females and willing to get out of the way.

The plan worked well last summer, but I bought a bunch of heifers in October. Two of them were already pregnant, but the rest were "open." I wanted them bred, and soon. But I messed up. I put Ferdie and the heifers into one of our remote rented pastures, but Topper the steer was in with them, too. 

Topper is not a bull

Despite castration in his resume, Topper seems not to know he is a steer; he still likes females. And because he is bigger than Ferdinand, he can hog the cows' attention and block Ferdie from mating. I knew all this when I left him in that pasture, but I thought it would just be for a few days. I had planned to pick him up, but I got busy – things happen on a farm – and then our big "cow-taxi" truck broke down.

When we dropped off a load of pumpkins at that remote pasture in our smaller truck, Ferdie stood back from the herd looking at me, wondering, "When are you going to get that stupid bull-blocking steer out of here?" Unfortunately, Topper shared the pasture with Ferdie and the girls until we could bring them home in late November.

Pregnancy tests confirmed that none were pregnant. Rats! Rather than miss out on any calves, I broke my own breeding rules and gave Ferdie until February 1 to mate, this time free of interference from the amorous steer. If my math is correct, I could have a crop of babies in November 2022, not ideal, but better than no calves.

Farm Events

The two previously pregnant heifers are expected to deliver soon so that calves will arrive in February, March, April, and November this year. 

There's an old Yiddish saying: "Man plans, and God laughs."

And speaking of planning, mark your calendars for two events: St. Patrick's Day at the Farm on Saturday, March 12, and Easter on the Farm on Saturday, April 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. We might have a new calf or two for you to cuddle! Find out more here.


Carole Soule

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