A Surprise Baby

A real surprise. dutch-belted-calf-007

Elsie has given birth to a wee heifer. She was already here when I went out to do the chores yesterday morning so the girls got to see her before departing. They had the best visit.

The calf  is a beautiful wee bouncy heifer she has the same markings as her mother on one side but otherwise she is all black. We will keep her and train her to be a milk cow in a few years. Unlike her mother who is not a natural house cow at all.  dutch-belted-calf-034

I milked Elsie yesterday evening she was dripping milk rapidly but she did not like those cups and kicked like a crazy thing. I did get her milked but it was most unpleasant not to mention dangerous. As she has raised her own calves in the past my plan was to share milk with her. After things settle down – Putting the baby in the barn at night, milking in the morning, then letting them be together in the day,  then separate for the night again. This routine works for a lot of people.  But it depends on a cow who will cooperate.  After a few months I would wean the baby off and take over all the milking myself getting lots of cream and butter. Well, that was the plan.

I shall try again today and if she has not settled by the end of the day I will let the calf take over full time and hope that Lady Astor is more willing. There is no point pushing this into the realms of illness. Hers or mine. Plus I work alone, the risk of injury to me is very real and then I have a very real terror of mastitis and will not take any risks. Elsie has always been flighty and prone to wacking me. Lady is a lot calmer.  Hopefully I can milk one of them.

But I am feeling demoralised after the attempts at milking her yesterday.  After all her training I was hoping she would do a little better than this. dutch-belted-calf-017

I don’t know what else to say. I am going out to have another go.  But I am not going to force her – though all my plans revolve around having a milk cow.  We will see.

The good news is that every egg, except one, hatched out. Now we have a whole hoard of fluffy chicks in the brooder. one day old chicks

A very good result indeed. At the beginning of next month the turkey eggs arrive.  I hope those do as well!

day old chicks

Good morning.  I am girding my loins. Ready to give this cow my best shot. Elsie was going to need time to settle to milking so I must keep positive.dutch-belted-calf-033

This calf has quite the look. I am not sure of her name yet. I hope you have a lovely day,



113 Comments on “A Surprise Baby

  1. Congratulations all round and how brilliant for the girls to get one last burst of excitement 😉

  2. A surprise baby for Easter! Bugger about the milking though, I’m sorry to hear it was such a chore. Please take great care! I know you will, but I’ll be thinking of you. Hope today’s attempt goes better! Much love xxx

    • Morning darling – she was worse if anything.. she is used to raising her own calves.. I think the guy who sold her to me sent me the wrong one – he said she was a nice quiet cow, but she has never been quiet or approachable.. hates to be touched – so I gave it a crack – now I am letting her be. Just in to bind up my wrist then off out again to feed the animals who love me.

  3. What a lovely surprise. Better to be safe than sorry C, expecially when you work on your own. Fluffy chicks with no mama are so much easier! I’ve seen grown men vault five bar gates to get away from over-protective newly calved cows (though thankfully that isn’t your problem) but a slap around the face with the tail of an unwilling milker is bad enough, let alone kicking.

  4. Congratulations! She is beautiful. And great that the girls got to see her before they left. Sounds like you’ve been having your usual busy, busy time. Best positive vibes for success with Elsie. Would she be less likely to want to be milked because she now has her baby? Love that you’ve had the chicks hatch over Easter weekend. Very apposite. And great that you have such helpful visitors – great for them and you.

  5. At last, a heifer born on the Farmy, the first I believe? To think the girls almost got the opportunity to squeeze the cow 🙂 Sorry to read Elsie is being a right cow about the share milking bit, but be careful always. Laura

  6. Maybe if you just take baby steps with Elsie. Break the task down into small elements and continue to build on them over each day after success of the last one. Maybe it was just too much all at once for her, especially just after having a new beautiful baby!

  7. Oh, what a beautiful baby! How can you stand it? I think I would be out there with her, making sure nothing untoward happened to her… hehehe Is that Elsie’s problem, that she is an over-protective mama? If so, maybe it will ease off a bit over time. In the meantime, it appears she has done her job and presented you with a beautiful babe. And chicks too! It must be spring. 🙂

  8. A surprise indeed! Well done Elsie. I hope she calms for the next try at milking. The chicks are adorable I just want to scoop them up.

      • Hi Miss C, I have just nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. I put a link to your site on my blog post. I totally understand if you do not not have time to participate in this as it is quite busy on the farm!

        • Thank you – that is lovely – and you are right, I don’t do awards anymore.. with a daily farm blog plus the daily farming it is just too much to keep up with.. thank you so much of your kind thoughts though.. c

  9. Perhaps milking her by hand might work better at first? Until she becomes more comfortable with it, and then the milking apparatus can be introduced again? Or perhaps she just needs a day or two to devote her milk only to the baby, and then will become more willing to be milked. Be super careful around her Celi! Her baby is beautiful!!!

    • I cannot even get my hand under her, even just to clean her.. she just kicked me across the room, and that was with her baby sucking on the other side.. No, I don’t think hand milking is an option. It is not the machine it is people… She does not like people..

  10. Could you call het Miss Easter? You really needn’t be despondent just yet: you have given birth a time or two – don’t you remember how moody and up and down you were for a little while each time? She will soon settle, I’m sure.
    ViV x

  11. Congratulations! Her marking kind of looks like a flipped Australia map! Could get a name out of that! Good luck. No experience milking cows, being chased by a protective mother is the closest I have come and the closest I would ever want to be again. She was big and scary! Be careful.

  12. could you buy a second calf to put on elsie to use excess milk?
    i used to go to cattle market and pick up extra calf to raise on cow with her own calf.
    easy,cheap way to increase herd faster.

    for week or so, would fasten calves away from cows except for 3 or 4 feeding times a day
    quicker if calf is same sex as the original calf

    after few days, mama would accept extra calf as her own, and could let them stay together full time

    • I do like that idea – she does not have a huge amount of milk anyway though – maybe dues to always raising her own calf and never being milked.. c

  13. whoops..you take care Miss C..we don’t really want to visit you in hospital….Maybe it is the hormones..after all any new mom is very unsettled even human ones….just take care …please…..The Baby chicks did not cause a problem this time..so what are theses chicks called ‘The non accident chicks’….
    love the baby cow she is so pretty….How do you decide on names…love P

  14. It’s so frustrating when our best laid plans fall apart. What a cow! 🙂 That is a beautiful baby though. Take care of yourself and your wrist!

  15. Sorry Elsie is so wild. I like Ron’s idea if she has enough milk for another calf. I’ll suggest the name Daffodil for the calf – it is Spring after all. Hope your wrist is soon feeling better. Hoping Lady A is a much calmer cow — has she had calves before too?

    • She chases anything that comes near her or her calf even the chooks – it would be a big investment if it failed and she rejected it – I am in two minds – plus calves are expensive.. c

      • Then I would stick with the one calf — it would be different if someone had a calf to give away (kind of how you got Poppy) . I’ll also recommend the arnica as others have for the wrist.

  16. Oh yes, do take care. I know you will. Arnica tablets for the bruising? Arnica is also v good for that sort of shock.

  17. Oh beautiful baby! Oh, cow of a mother! Sometimes beating a strategic retreat is best! I’m also thinking arnica for your wrist. Xo

  18. I want to say congratulations, bur after reading all the comments so far, and your replies of injury and pain I don’t know if congrats are in order actually. It certainly was a surprise to read that the calf was here, especially with no notice from the post yesterday. Please take care Miss C…I know you don’t usually see the doctor, but please mo itor this wrist for your sake. It would be awful to find you are walking around with something more than a very bad bruise.

  19. Who knew cows could be so cranky? Very independent, Miss Elsie. I gather they all have their own personalities – can’t change that.

  20. Be careful, and look after that wrist, congrats on the wee girl.. I know what its liked to be kicked by your milk cow, three years later and I must slowly admit that knee is never going to be the same..

    • Oh no., we need our knees. Elsie is just plain wild – I wanted to try – but she has never been a cow who even likes a scratch on her head.. Lady does so maybe she will come around..

  21. Oh dear, I just read thru the comment lounge and now am worried about your wrist and you being kicked this morning. We’re getting a bit too old to be kicked by cows Celi. Please be careful. I love the idea of buying a second calf and letting Elsie raise it, but then might you run the risk of Elsie rejecting a second calf and you having to buy milk to hand raise it yourself? No easy answers, are there. Tell you what though, that’s one beautiful baby we have, and that’s one “don’t mess with me or my baby” look Elsie is giving you!

    • Yes – you hit the nail on the head – and looking at this cow she will reject it.. daisy would let anyone drink from her and anyone close to her calf but this cow is a very wound up wee Mum. I am leaving her quite alone now, in the back room of the barn with her baby. Baby has been drinking and now is sleeping.

      • Bet this is all a bit too much for her. Considering she got sold to you pregnant, got uprooted from what she knows and moved to the farmy, had a secret surprise baby for the first time and now you want to do what? Maybe next spring when she’s more settled and more trusting. Hope you have time for a nice hot bath tonight. Big hugs. x

  22. Ah. Glad she popped out okay. Does the name have to start with a certain letter ( we are ‘L’ here )? Very cute.

  23. Elsie is a puzzle. Michael’s required time to sort out and I’m sure that, given time, you will figure out what the right choice is for the farmy and Elsie. The heiffer calf strikes me as a Hildegard.

  24. So sorry Elsie is such a disappointment. I always thought she looked wild/scared in her pictures, she just gives off that vibe. The little heifer looks to be a pistol. I keep thinking the name Vivian when I see her or Esme. Maybe Elsie will agree to raise Lady Astor’s calf and you can keep all of her milk. I’m sure you know this but you need to keep bring Elsie in with the calf, even if you don’t milk her. You don’t want the calf to pick up her mother’s fear/attitude. You want the little one to be use to you handling her and the routine of being a house cow. We had cows that were a real treat to work with (not) but we handled the calves since birth and they usually were much more agreeable. If Elsie were to let you milk her, the milk production would likely rise to meet the demand. Every cow is different and some do not start producing milk until a few days after calving. They seem to have a longer period of producing colostrum. Good luck and hope the wrist is just bruised.

    • Yes you are right, I will put a halter on the calf (funnily Esme was one of the names I had in mind for her – though she looks more like a Dingo today. ) and in a few days i will begin to bring her in. The calves have a creep that the mothers cannot get into so it is easy to get them to myself each day. You are right about keeping her in hand.. But I am letting Elsie’s milk just lower to serve the calf.. I think it is best that way.

      • Tis probably best to leave her be. She is use to little human contact and being a new mother she will be on high alert. When I was a little kid, common practice was still to let the cow nurse the calf for the first few days (don’t remember exactly how long my guess would be 3-5 days though) then put her into the milking string. I think it probably was best for the calf and helped with udder edema. On the other hand it made the calf more difficult to get on a bucket and the cow pretty unhappy when she couldn’t access her calf any more. Trade offs. Well I hope the calf’s name doesn’t end up being Dingo. Sometimes the first one that pops into your head is the one that sticks unfortunately. Maybe Ringo Starr , she kind of reminds me of him in that last photo or or Bingo (closest names I could think of to Dingo). If you change your mind about trying to milk I could give you some ideas to try if you want. If she stays really kicky though it is not worth it in my opinion. Crossing fingers and toes that Lady Astor is more agreeable. Glad to hear the wrist is just sore.

        • I agree. I only have a little experience with cows, but i do know they have long memories, dragging (literally) a cow in to be milked and she kicks and holds back the milk anyway will destroy her relationship with me AND her calf. This is her fourth calf – and she is adamant – so best we do it her way. And yes.. breath held for Lady A, who walked in and out of the milking shed with ease and calm this morning, with me touching her all over.. and banging stuff . around. So far we are ahead..

  25. So sorry to hear about your wrist. I hope it isn’t broken.

    Another blog I follow, Window on the Prairie, has some sort of chute they use for recalcitrant mothers. They just had babies too and twins who needed adopting. They used the chute to get adopted moms used to their new offspring.

    Of course, keep in mind I’m a city girl and really have no idea what I’m talking about.

    What does it mean to not be a “natural house cow”?

    Hope you are feeling better soon.

    • My wrist is fine, just embarrassed. I think I mean a cow who adapts to being milked by a human. I need that chute. But I also don’t need milk that much so I am letting nature take over.

  26. Morning Cec,this is from Connie’s mom,she got me hooked on your blob,love the chicks, showed the hatching to my great grddaughter, who is from Chicago, cool,take care of that cute calf,

  27. Fingers crossed that she’ll settle and at least let you near her, even if she doesn’t allow milking. I don’t know if it’s worth talking to the farmer who sold her to you, and asking if he’s got any useful tips for handling her? I used to know a cow who’d do almost anything for celery, and maybe she has a quirk you simply haven’t encountered yet. Lovely little heifer, nice and sturdy looking. Good luck with taming her to being handled, and take care of your damaged wrist; everyone’s got the same recommendation, and I’m the same: use arnica, and if it’s badly bruised, Hirudoid will reduce the bruising and inflammation very quickly, if you can get it there.

  28. Beautiful new baby heifer. Ears up in that shot. She’s on alert, isn’t she? Hopefully, you will be able to tame the new wee heifer a little at a time. Take good care of that wrist tho. Heat and cold alternating is what they always say, isn’t it? Congrats on a successful birth, regardless. And the chicks look great, so fluffy. Too bad the girls couldn’t stay a bit longer. I know you’re disappointed. Hang in there.

  29. You cannot even begin to imagine how much I love calves. So many memories of feeding calves as a young girl and adopting one heifer as my special one, the calf I named Princess.

  30. Oh my do be careful! As Veronica said we are getting too old for those sort of shenanigans! Hope your wrist is ok and just bruised. I think your really brave to even try to milk her when she is not at all friendly. I never feel comfy walking through a field of cows when we are out for a walk! But anyway it’s wonderful that she gave birth to a healthy baby, and great news about the chicks Look after yourself x

  31. Well this explains why Elsie was sporting such a fine udder a few days ago! What a beautiful wee girl. I like John’s thinking…Elsie supplied her replacement. So sorry that Elsie isn’t working out to be a satisfactory milk cow and after reading the comments, so glad you weren’t seriously injured! How about Blossom or Violet as a gentle (and hopefully she will be) Spring name for a Spring heifer?

  32. Very exciting…all these births. Can’t wait to see what you name the calf. Do be careful with Elsie. Maybe your original plan has another ending you didn’t anticipate that’s even better!

  33. What a joyful surprise, to walk out in the morning and find the new calf already there. It doesn’t get any easier than that…so sorry to hear that Elsie is not cooperating. As everyone else has said, be careful, the rest of the farm needs you too much to risk injury.

  34. The happiest days are when babies come! Sending good energy to Elsie to hope she settles for milking. You know how overwhelming it feels to have a new baby yourself. I’m sure she feels similar and so all these cups and milking and separations are making her quite testy!

  35. You be real careful Celie, my poor father got kicked several times and did not help him stay healthy as he got older. Those bay chicks are cute.

  36. A lovely surprise but Elsie sounds like she has done you some damage – maybe the writing is on the wall for her? You can’t put yourself at risk like this 😦 Congrats too on the chickies – all but one is an incredible result!

  37. How wonderful!! I am in in total agreement with how you are approaching milking! Great to hear about the chicks!!

  38. Easter Lily…..maybe Lily would be a nice name…..take care !

  39. Daphne would be the name I would pick. As for the milking, maybe Elsie was in the overprotective new mama stage. She knows the milk keeps her calf healthy and she didn’t want you to take from the supply. Please be careful and don’t push it if Elsie remains feisty at milking time

    • I would also cut Elsie some slack as a new mama. Keep a regular routine and maybe she’ll settle in. I just had a similar problem with a trio of Large Fowl Dominiques I got. I was told the cock bird was docile, but for the first week here at a new place, that surely wasn’t what I saw. I’ve been out just sitting with him and his two girls for a while every day and they’re finally starting to relax. Those belted cows don’t seem to me like the overly domesticated commercial dairy breeds, their protective instincts might be stronger. Hopefully you can find a way to deal with this that doesn’t involve getting hurt.

  40. How wonderful the girls got to see the calf before leaving. Sounds like you are wise indeed to go softly after the milk. Cows look so gentle, I had no idea they could be so dangerous but then any mother can be. Wonderful photos of the whole new gang. Do stay careful. I know things can happen to farmers working alone. Heck even to housekeepers working alone. 😦 What an Easter you’ve had.

  41. I think you need to gear-up as if you’re playing Aussie-rules footie. Or cricket. Crumbs, c.

  42. How about Beatrix, Margriet or Juliana, some of the Dutch royals’ names? Though I do like nanster’s Easter Lily. I am so sorry about your wrist, & hope it is not very badly hurt. The blessing is the birth was apparently easy & natural for Elsie who didn’t trouble you to be up all night with her, & as John says, if need be, she has replaced herself. They are certainly a striking & handsome family, Elsie & ? Judith (or how about good old “Judy”?)

  43. A feast of babies, how wonderful, Do take care when near Elsie and mind your hand, it has plenty of work to do in the future so may need to be pampered for a few days. I can just imaging the chatter of those girls on their return journey, about all the adventures they had while with you over Easter. Memories that will stay with they for all their lives!

  44. What a grand surprise baby! Sorry for your troubles in the milking though. I eagerly await the next posting to see if mama settles down and cooperates. Good luck!

  45. WOW!!! All the comments!!! I’m getting here late today. So sorry Ms E is being so cantankerous… Remember your health and safety is the most important thing!!! They farm needs you more than you need the milk! Hugs and prayers!

  46. I didn’t have time to read all your comments, so if this has been said, please forgive me. You can take both babies and graft them onto Elsie. It’s a huge job, but can be done. Then you milk your other cows all the time. Also when you feed the babies you keep them separate until Elsie is in the barn then you let the calves out to feed–twice a day. We used to feed four calves at a time on a ‘bad milker’—broke my wrist once and gave me a black eye. She gave tons of milk (5 gallons) but resisted milking, but hand or machine.


      • Two many weeks and it could be trouble as the cow will adjust her milk for her one calf. The real trick is if Elsie will let the calf suck. But stantioned and hobbled she really won’t have any choice. Oh, yes, she could hold her milk for the new calf. You can put vinegar on the new calf and on the old calf and on the cows noses so all she smells is apple cider vinegar, that sometimes tricks her into thinking the two calves are both hers.

      • You have to put the calves in one pen and the cow only gets to have the babies at feeding time. It’s a huge job, but worth it.

        Also, in my comment below I mentioned hobbling…for those who don’t know hobbling doesn’t hurt the cow, it just keeps her from being able to raise her hoof and give you or a calf or a milk bucket a swift kick.

  47. I’m astonished by the new arrival. I was thinking at least another month. You won’t find me giving advice. Just congrats. All the new arrivals are sweeter than sweet-looking. I love how the chicks are so different. I’m wondering if there’s such a thing as Angie’s List for farmers. The one who sold you Elsie needs to be thumbed-down.

  48. I turn away for one second and…
    Beauty of a little calf. Maybe the new mom will settle down – even human moms are a bit touchy – and this one has had a lot of changes in her life fairly quickly – or she may just be who she is – a bit ornery. TIme will tell.
    Take care being alone out there.

  49. Congratulations! Elsie may settle down after she learns the routine. Adding a new baby to the mixture is sure to set things back a step or two. Good luck. Stay safe!

  50. So many babies are the farmy now!!!! The girls and I are chomping at the bit to come visit. I need to make room on my calendar!!!

  51. A somber reminder how quickly things can get serious when working with large animals. We see all the adorable, charming, beautiful photos and as viewers we can forget how large and dangerous the animals can be, intentionally or not. But my, what a lovely surprise! Let’s hope she won’t have the personality of her mother. I am sure you will have your “cow-speak” on with the new one.

  52. What an exciting surprise! I hope the milking becomes easier!

  53. Beautiful calf. I am a beef-cow girl and do not know very much about dairy cattle (although my husband’s family had a dairy … I just didn’t get to work on it). From my beef cow experiences, I can’t imagine a mama cow getting separated from her calf very easily every evening. Good luck!! I hope Lady Astor has the personality for it!!

    • The calves go into a creep area, where the cows cannot go, to get their grain in the evening. And I just shut the door. That bit is easy, the milking bit is my problem at the moment..

  54. The new calf and chicks are beauties but Elsie, well, bloody hell. Possibly used cow and used car salesmen have things in common. But you tried, and have plans B, C and so on… and yet more experience under your belt!

  55. Late on site: the going of Daylight Saving has made more than one difference! Wonderful to find little babies and that beautiful big one – am so glad it was a heifer at last. I guess it is day by day and hour by hour deciding on the steps to come . . . good luck and take care!! I like Lily . . . methinks Dingo is a wee bit masculine, but if the shoe fits . . .

  56. When I read that you hadn’t chosen a name yet, my first thought was Lily (or Lillie) because of her Easter birth. But Nanster beat me to it. Perhaps a soft and gentle name will help her grow to be a gentle milk cow. I’m guessing Miss Elsie is just confused about what the heck you’re trying to do – that’s never happened before when she had a calf. I think you said this is her fourth, so you may not have much luck in teaching an old cow a new trick. If it was her first or second it might have been simpler to convince her. If she stays long enough to have another calf, the extra time on the farmy (and hopefully the good example of Lady A) might make a difference.

    In any event, you’ve got a lovely little heifer! We’ll keep our fingers crossed for another one from Lady A.

    Best of luck and stay safe.
    Chris S in Canada

  57. Oh bother. Elsie sure didn’t behave very well. The little heifer is lovely and it’s a good thing she had an easy birth. How do you help a cow who needs it but won’t let you near? Not a good situation. I think you might be able to gentle her but not soon enough to milk her this year. I would suggest visiting familycow.proboards.com and maybe using some of the techniques that Joe and Kathleen use with their horses (yes, I know horses are different than cows, but the trust and training can be adapted http://thesoulofahorse.com/blog/lessons-from-zeke-already/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheSoulOfAHorseBlog+%28The+Soul+Of+A+Horse+Blog%29). My dad worked on his brother-in-law’s farm when he was young and was the one milking the cows, he told me about using a rope to stop the cow from kicking (http://www.grit.com/animals/teaching-a-dairy-cow-not-to-kick.aspx – this is what he was talking about). If she just isn’t going to cooperate at least you have the heifer and you can just breed Elsie for calves.

  58. How disappointing about the milking. I know how you love the abundance of milk pouring into the buckets. But you had a trouble free birth and a beautiful calf. Life goes on.

  59. How incredibly exciting about the surprise baby although not so much about the hassle of milking. Shame C, you really don’t need any hassles with your busy daily schedule so here’s hoping the milking goes smoothly moving forward.
    Have a beautiful day.
    🙂 Mandy xoxo

  60. I am late on this… but I’m with you on going with your gut and not pushing it with Elsie. You are also wise to remember if you are injured, everything goes south… and I don’t mean on a vacation! Elsie is at least good at having healthy babies – she may not be a good milker at all! 🙂

  61. Elsie’s calf it a pretty little thing. I forgot about yesterday’s comment from the girls about squeezing the cow–thought it was a cute question.

  62. Pingback: How To Wish | The Chalk Hills Journal

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