Monday, June 13, 2011

Welcoming Royalty

It's June so of course a lot of things are going on right now. We made a million different plans in the aftermath of Toodles' death. We ended up following through with none of them, instead coming up with another altogether.

What the loss of Toodles cost us, other than the loss of her as an individual, was a producing cow and her calf. Her keep is earned through her calves. Our source of farm income. By losing her, we not only lost our investment in her, but her calf (which would have earned income next year) and all of her future calves as well.

At first I thought we'd keep Xanadu and buy a calf to replace her as meat this fall. This made sense as she has great genetics and good confirmation. I'm sure she'd produce excellent calves. The plan didn't make sense because I would then have two cows that were genetically related.  It also didn't make sense because Xanadu wouldn't calve until next spring and that calf wouldn't earn income until the year after that. That means keeping Xanadu would cost us 2 years of expenses with no income. Plus we'd have to buy an animal this year and next, to meet our meat orders. So it would cost us double. This plan was scrapped.

The plan we thought made most sense was to buy a cow who just calved this spring. More money up front, but it would cost us less in the long run. The hardest part was which cow, from who, for how much. As much as farming, beef farming, is a predominantly male industry, my mom has nice cattle and my mom's best friend Barb also has nice cattle. She has nice quiet cattle too that are accustomed to living in a small herd.  So three women farmers sat around on the phone and through emails and discussed who had what animals and what genetics and who would fit best in my herd that they no longer needed in their own. Fun. Better than talking about men or shopping for clothes.

Last week the decision was made and last night a cow and her calf were delivered from Barb's farm. Royalty is her name and Owen named her sweet little heifer calf Yummy. Royalty is 5 years old I believe and an older style cow with a long neck, blocky head and a long solid frame. A long neck on a cow is said to indicate a good milker and she is.  Royalty is friendly and used to being handled. I think she'll fit in really well here.  We have a bull on his way that will breed her and she'll produce another calf next year too. She'll put us right back on track. Smokey and Xanadu were excited to see another cow when she arrived. I know they've missed Toodles.  This morning, Royalty was still tentative in her new surroundings but grazing with the herd that has suddenly doubled.

When raising livestock, you are bound to have deadstock. That's how farming goes. But you just keep on keeping on. It's a happy ending or a happy beginning, depending on how you look at it.

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