Last Sunday, on Easter, I went to let out the chickens out of their coop. As I open the door, I look in and see that all the chickens are lined up awaiting this moment. Then slowly all in a line they begin to march right out of the coop with their feathers fluffed and their heads held high. The rooster in the lead while he crows. What a cool beginning to Easter Sunday! An Easterparade with real chickens!
Yesterday my friend Ella came over and we helped train the 'March' calves to the electric fence for the first time. This is always an exciting event for the calves as well as the farmers! The 'March' calves are the ones that were born in late February and March; they are the older ones.
In one of the very green, fresh pastures we set up a little square where the electricity is very high. When we train them to fences we want them all to experience a shock so from then on they know to keep away from the perimeter of their pasture. So we slowly herd the calves into the pasture, they are all a little bit confused because this is something that is not in their daily schedule, but it soon will be. As they enter, they curiously make their way to the fence. We all gather around the outside so when they have been shocked we make sure they turn around and run the other way in stead of running through. One of them, Freya, wrapped her whole tongue around it!
After they were settled in and had all had their first and hopefully last shock, Maria asks us to go check up on the cows in the field to see if any were giving birth or to see if any have already been born. Now this is something very special to do, you get to be the first human to lay eyes on this newborn and you are the first human that the newborn gets to see. So my brother Justin, Ella and I hopped on our four-wheeler and drove out in search of newborn calves! As we came nearer to the cows we saw two big clumps of cows gathered around one. When you see that it usually means that in the center of their clump is a calf, because all the other moms gather to see and they all try to be his or her mom. Wouldn't it be annoying if everyone tried to be your mom? But the calves don't seem to mind.
We parked the four-wheeler and walked toward the group. Sure enough there is a black and white baby calf. It's still wet but the Mama is busy licking him, or is it her? Not sure. We will find out later, but for now we thought that we should probably leave them alone for a while. When calves are first born their moms lick them to clean them off and so they stay warm. Then we walk to the next cluster and there we see the very same picture: Mama cow and a black and white calf. Later Maria and Harold will bring them into the pen.
As we leave the calves and mamas be, we ask each other: "If you were a calf would you want to be born in a pasture or a pen." Both Ella and Justin say pen, but I say pasture. But there are advantages to both, in a pen you only have one mom, and it is warmer if it is a cold day. But in a field you have sunshine and the sight of green grass.
Farm Fact: A cow eats about 100 pounds of grass and produces about 65 pounds of manure each day.