Sometimes Things… Don’t Work Out

I think I mentioned last fall that we “flushed” our Akaushi cows and put some embryos in our fall herd. “Flushed” basically means that we set them up to come into heat and to release more eggs than normal. After they were artifically inseminated and the embryos had started to develop, but had not attached to the uterine wall, the vet “flushed” them out. 

The embryos can be frozen – and we did freeze some. Actually tomorrow a fellow in Northern Virginia will be putting ten of our embryos in his cows. He and his wife were here on the farm earlier this summer. They raise Quarter horses and currently have two of our mares on their farm that they’ve bred to two of their stallions.

Watson and Pie are heading up tonight to stay there overnight so they can help them first thing in the morning to move their cattle and put the embroys in, and then they’ll be bringing our mares back with them.

Anyway, our vet had a cow that had been set up to receive an embryo, and he told us if she took, he’d sell her – the cow – to us. He did an ultrasound before we bought her to be sure she was bred, and he told us she was expecting a heifer.

This was one of our best embryos, out of our best cow and bred to Rhubarb, who was the best bull we bred them to. (Where do they come up with these names, right? lol)

Anyway, the girls and I were alone on the farm over the weekend. I think I mentioned we have an apple tree in our back yard, so before Pie and I go out to check the herd, we gather up a couple buckets of apples to take with us.

It’s gotten to the point that when we drive in with the four-wheeler, we have about ten cows that come running. : ) So, we feed them apples and check them out, looking for the few we have that are due soon. We’re watching the embryo cows in particular, not just because we spent a lot of money to flush the cows and breed them, but also because once those calves are born, they’re worth a good bit as well.

It’s not just the money (although you have to make this pay or you can’t keep doing it, right?) – we take the best care we can with all of our cows – but we’re also super excited to see how this is all going to turn out. I’m sure you’ve been there, hoping and praying that you took a chance and it’s going to pay off!

So, Pie and I were up on the hill Saturday night feeding apples to the cows and we noticed the cow we’d gotten from the vet, who wasn’t due until the middle of September, looked like she was going to freshen.

There isn’t anything we can do to stop it, and we’ve had a few early babies that have done well, so we just made a note of it, finished feeding our apples and went back to the house.

Since we don’t have many new calves, we’ve only been checking the herd once a day and we waited until after church to drive up.

It wasn’t hard to see the buzzards circling. That’s always a clue that there’s a problem, right?

Actually, earlier this spring we had a mama cow with a baby that just didn’t thrive after it was born. It went down, and she fought the buzzards for hours until we came and got the body of her calf and hauled it away. We watched her for a bit – I know I talk about mama cows who are killers when they’re protecting their young, but right there – that mama who fought those buzzards off to protect her baby – is the reason that’s actually a good thing. 

Technically, I guess, buzzards don’t kill their prey. But if a calf can’t get up, they’ll…eat it alive, I guess. So, I hesitated to put that in, but it’s a fact of life on the farm. And a mama cow who will stay and run the buzzards off might buy us enough time to try to save her little one.

Sunday we were too late. The cow we bought from the vet is a nice cow, and we could tell she’d cleaned her baby – a sweet, small heifer – off, but she didn’t chase the buzzards away, and by the time we got up to where she’d had it, all that was left was the skull, picked totally clean, along with the backbone and legs – adorable, tiny little hooves.

So, yeah, that’s heartbreaking. We did a bunch of work late last year, and are hoping to see the fruit of our labor soon, and it was discouraging to have our first embryo calf not make it. 

We couldn’t tell whether she was born alive and just couldn’t get away from the buzzards, or if she was a still birth, or what happened. We just know you have to take the bad with the good.

On a lighter note, we had helped a neighbor make his hay in July so he had us over to their house for supper Sunday night. Delicious ribs and baked beans and peach cobbler and great conversation. 

We don’t have many close neighbors – it’s very rural – and at the end of this farmer’s land there’s a sign that says Helicoptor Landing Area. We’ve always laughed at that sign, because it seems so random to have a helicoptor landing area out in the middle of nowhere.

But he told us Sunday evening that it’s an actual thing. It’s so hilly around our area that they needed a nice, flat place to land when there’s a wreck on the road or someone needs airlifted out. So, they’d gotten permission years ago to land in his front yard. He said he’d only seen it used twice, but still. We thought it was neat.

Alright, that’s a little update from the farm. 

Thanks so much for spending time with me today!

Hugs and blessings,


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