Wednesday, October 6, 2010

New beginnings

A couple of days ago I was driving into town. I took one of my favourite routes, more direct than the Valley road, but full of farms - the stuff this part of Ontario is made of.

I had to stop when I saw this lovely mum and her brand new baby. From all the signs you can tell that the calf was not more than half an hour old and very wobbly, obviously just barely on its feet. She has licked it clean, but the little babe is pretty weak after it's expulsion into the bright sun and chilly air.

I watched for some time, assuming the snoozing calf at the mum's side was also hers and that she'd been a busy girl.

The newest baby spent a lot of time first nuzzling mum's neck which is when I first noticed  them, then getting to the right spot and trying to find a nipple. In this image it's had success, only to lose it after a minute or two. Mum stood patiently, licking it occasionally and nuzzling it. What a moment!

When I returned a couple of hours later, I slowed at the field again and realized my error in thinking mum had had twins. Another big brown cowl had obviously given birth recently, maybe earlier that morning, to the snoozing calf, which was close to it's mother's head, snuggling into its mum. I watched while she licked her baby keeping a watchful eye on me at the time.

The first baby that I had seen earlier was just a bit less wobbly and still determined to get more milk. It continued to find a nipple, suck for a minute or two, lose it, then find another. It was determined to get a full meal. A fighter.

Yesterday I drove by again - yes, I confess, to check on my latest discovery. The two mothers were grazing happily with the older calf trying to graze as well. The younger baby was once more nuzzling mum's udder, but  with a bit more precision.

These are late calves it seems to me - many cattle are bred to have their young in spring, to be ready for fall auctions. However this is a small herd of purebred Charolais, to which three Highland cattle have been added.   These white, cream-coloured or beige cattle are beautiful to look at and it appears that this herd is special.

It will be fun to watch the calves grow, and perhaps to find out more about this particular herd.

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