Elsie The Wild

I have decided not to try and milk Elsie again. She got progressively worse each time I tried and both of us ended up scraped and sore. (Me flinging myself totally across the room to miss a right cut to my jaw). I could not even get the cups near her yesterday. She kicked out every time I approached.   Injuries can happen both for the cow (who was throwing herself about) and I – plus it is dangerous for the calf as well. On a normal day her ears are back all the time and you can see the whites of her eyes every time she whips her head around. Trying to milk her sent her over the edge. And when I tried to undo her tether in the milking shed she reared her head back and literally head-butted my hand.  Deliberately. This was not a knee jerk kick. That behaviour is no good.

I am sure a more experienced dairy woman could handle her but I can’t.

Best for me to quit while I am ahead.  I have a wee heifer and a Mama to feed her. That works. cow and calf

She is such a good mother though.  Standing watch as baby sleeps and gently backing over to the calf when she stands up. Standing dead still when baby is drinking. She is deeply nervous and protective of her calf.   But that is not her only problem – she does not like people – that is the main problem.

Sometimes the plan changes – it is important to recognise the change and turn with it. Tacking in a different direction to catch the wind.  I am not getting into a battle of wills with this cow.

So yesterday she and her calf spent the day in the dim back room of the barn. The Cadet and I peeked at her every now and then.  She had food and water and peace. Baby was drinking on and off and doing a lot of Day Two sleeping.


I am sure that Lady A will be much easier to milk. She is a totally different kind of cow. She loves to be patted and scratched, very calm, I can even hand feed her.  So I have a feeling that she may be a better bet.  Though I should not speak too soon. (Touching wood, dancing on one leg in a circle to the West). And she is not ready to calve yet, her udder is still quite small.  Let’s hope at the very least she gives birth as easily as Elsie the Wild.


The chicks are all doing well. Such a good hatch rate. Only one egg not hatching.  They sleep in under and around their Mama Table heater. They are so much quieter than chicks under lights.


The Cadet and The Chick.

Well I had better get going. Yesterday quite wore me out. I could go back to bed you know! But off to work we go. Me and my dogs.la mancha goats

The La Manchas – kidding around!

Good morning. We have some pretty wild squally storms galloping through. I will get out my big oil-skin raincoat and go out early and check the pigs in their huts  – the kunes might want to come into the barn in all this lightning – I hope you all have a lovely day.

Your friend on the farmy,



88 Comments on “Elsie The Wild

  1. I always wonder about an animal’s “former life”, and do wonder what could have spooked Elsie in hers. Poor thing.

  2. I think you’re wise. Motherhood is a powerful force of nature, and her innate distrust of people is only going to be exaggerated by her instinctive need to protect her baby. We need you safe, Miss C, and going two rounds with a cow mainlining motherhood hormones is not going to keep you safe. Sounds as if she’ll do an outstanding job of raising her baby, you’ll get to gentle the baby yourself, and it’ll all come round, just longer and later than you planned. Good luck!

  3. I am glad you know when to quit! I rather worried about you out there with Elsie. But since she is such a good mama, you still come out ahead. And such a precious little wee heifer you have!

  4. It seems that your life is quite like a roller coaster – up and down and up and down. I wish you a bit of steady evenness for a while. Perhaps spring will bring that for you. Take care, c. xx

    • I know what you mean misky, I am just waiting for this latest squall to run through before running across to the barn and at 5.26 in the morning I am so tired the soles of my feet hurt. I think I need a whole day in bed though I cannot remember when that happened last.. oh I know – when i cracked the tailbone.. that had me lying down! . c

      • Work in some rest today please. A nice cup of tea and go sit with the animals this evening. Do a simple dinner – no cook if you have the ingredients…. Hugs and keep rolling with the tide (or cow licks…) Miss A will raise you a nice replacement and then she can go bye bye…

      • When you–you!–think that you need a whole day in bed, guess what this means?
        [Answer: It means that you NEED a whole day in bed. You know what you don’t need? To crack your tailbone before you do the sane thing to do. Trust your instinct and at least crash for a glorious, revitalizing siesta! You’ll be so much safer, alerter (ha), speedier and happier afterwards.] Thus ends today’s installment of Granny Nuri’s unsolicited advice. 😉

  5. That’s good news, always wise to know when to call a halt. She is a good mother and that is very good. One less thing to worry about x

  6. You really are the most wonderfully inspiring person in terms of farming (and I have to say that I am a bit jealous of your successes when I just keep failing!) With my pigs and poultry and emus all happily re-homed, I have learned the hard way that sometimes things don’t work out in the expected ways. I am taking an autumn blogbreak in order to figure out what the hell I am still doing here on this farm that isn’t a farm. xxx

  7. Good call. Will the calf learn this attitude from her mama, or do you now plan to separate them?

    • I will not seperate them. The cow needs to be milked one way or the other, but the calves have a creep that they go into for their grain, the cows cannot follow so I will work with the calf in there so that she grows up tamer. She will have a halter in a week or so to help with this. I don’t want her growing up wild too. c

      • Our cows are great milkers. They could milk two calves if needed. But they are wild with humans. There is no way we could milk our cows. Well, except “Big Cow” who would let anyone milk her. Even the heifers born on the farm keep a distance, knowing nothing but kindness and new grass two or three times a day. I bottle fed a calf three times a day for four months. Total sweetie. I gave her a bottle and a pat. I could probably get her to do tricks. A year later, I see her in the field and she’s like ” and you are? do I know you?”

        I’ve never had a milk cow, but I’m guessing they need the routine and close contact or they forget.

        That said, there is a trick to milking Salers cattle. You must attach the calf to the cow or she won’t let down her milk. She needs to have the calf by her. This is how they make Salers cheese. Quite an operation. They do it in summer in the field.

  8. Do the minimum today and get some rest. Elsie the Wild will raise her baby for generation two. Take good care.

  9. If you are not able to milk Elsie The Wild does that mean that she must make a departure from the Farm or could you just keep her for breeding…..

    Take care Wonder Woman!

  10. Good decision, Elsie is just meant to be mom. That is disappointing though. Her dislike of humans is probably heightened by having a baby. Bank in Lady A for the milk, she is a lady after all, so she should have good manners!

  11. Let it be, let it be …. I’m sitting here quietly wondering who/or what traumatised Elsie in her younger days, and sadly it looks like it all happened around her calving 😦 It is good news that she obviously wants to rear the calf herself. Is this not a ‘problem’ with the Dutchie breed perhaps, or are there herds that are dairy/house cows? Also remembered a poster in the lobby of the nursing home where my mom stayed shortly before her death, seems kind of applicable today : –

    O God, give us the serenity to accept what cannot be changed,
    The courage to change what can be changed,
    and the wisdom to know the one from the other
    abrev (Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)


  12. Totally agree. Avoid situations that could lead to news headlines. Hopefully the other cow will be willing! I need to learn how to make grass-fed butter! ( when the time is right ).

  13. It’s a good idea to handle Elsie’s little heifer as much as possible as early as possible. The idea is to imprint her on people (much like chicks imprint on mom the first couple of days). I remember working with foals quite a lot in their first week, including rubbing all over, blanket/light weight on their back, picking up & fiddling with feet, and rubbing a running clipper all over the body – basically anything they’d be expected to encounter later in life. At least with foals, it made life MUCH easier to handle when it came time for weaning & training, even if they spent the rest of the first year out in a field without human interaction, if they got the imprint training in the first week. Same idea should work with calves 🙂

    And the idea suggested yesterday of grafting a second calf to Elsie sounded good to me. Using something to “scent mark” the current heifer could also be used on a second calf to help the process along. Even rubbing a towel all over her calf then all over #2 would help. I’m thinking that if Lady A’s calf can nurse on Elsie, that would give you all of her milk for your use.

    And I am pretty sure we now know why Elsie was a nurse cow, not a milker!

    • I will try it, for sure, depends how long it takes for Lady to calve.. and yes.. already working with the calf she is such a sweetie at the moment.. c

    • I did the imprinting with the two foals I raised, fortunately they had cooperative mamas. They both turned into sweet natured, trusting, in-your-pocket types. I’ve read it works with pups too so why not calves?

      • Makes a difference with kittens, too. Consider feral kittens – mom keeps them hidden with no human interaction early, and they stay very leery of humans (at best). If you can find and handle the kittens at 2 to 3 months old, and they are much more trusting of people. And I’ve seen the difference in puppies with our rescue group. The puppy mill surrenders, unless they are very young (generally 3 months or younger), have a very hard time interacting with other dogs, let alone people. I’m not saying trust and training can’t happen, it just takes lots of time and even more patience.

        BTW, the imprint/socialization window does vary by species, and generally is earlier & shorter in “precocious” species. The earlier the offspring can open its eyes, walk/run, and find food, the sooner you need to work with them. In puppies & kittens, the window is a bit later and longer (several weeks, instead of several days).

        Behavior is such an interesting topic 🙂

        • now that is interesting. since this calf is already running about the field I am already hard at work to connect with her.. very good info .. thank you

  14. Easy for me to say, while safely across the sea, but you need to listen to your body, Celi. It is asking for rest. If you become ill, who will look after everything for you? Elsie looks like she is giving Camera House the evil eye! Lovely photos of the cadet with the chicks.

  15. Yesterday, out of the blue, Chloe said, “Where does Celi live again?” I told her and she said, “Oh, well, people ship kittens and puppies all over the world don’t they?” I gave that a contemplation and said, “Well…yes…but what does that have to do with the price of fish?” And she said, “For the piglet!”

    Oh brother! 😀

    • and yes .. you can ship a piglet! .. though I would LOVE you both to do a road trip, when they are little the kune just sit on your knee.. too sweet for words, just book into hotels that take dogs and carry her in in a dog crate! Tell them she is a dog and what do you mean she looks like a pig – How Rude! Ha ha ah .. you have no excuses left! c

      • Ha ha ha, the girl I got Roosevelt my potbelly from had to give him up because she moved to an upper duplex in Milwaukee. She said she contemplated telling everyone he was a dog with a glandular problem!
        I look at Percy now and cannot believe he sat on my lap in the car for 3-1/2 hours, drooling on my shirt. He’d surely squash me now!

  16. There is nothing wrong with a healthy respect for the ways of nature, wise choice to leave the Momma alone to do her thing> 😀 Take care of yourself, not a good time of year to get sick!

  17. Gives a very clear definition to the U.K. phrase, “What a cow!” lol
    As I was reading your episode for today, Elizabeth’s thought of the “former life” of Elsie The Wild came to mind, wondering what has possessed her to be so aggressive toward someone so obviously compassionate. I had never thought of cows as being nasty, except the males — who I guess are not ‘cows’ at all, but ‘bulls’. It really does sound as though she doesn’t like people, poor thing.
    I agree, your photos for today are especially great. The Cadet and Chick are precious ones 🙂
    Have a great day! Mame

  18. Have a care-full day, C. It’s easier to get hurt when you are exhausted. Supportive hugs from here.

  19. I’m so sorry. How terribly frustrating for you. Too bad you can’t have the ‘salesman farmer’ buy her back when her calf is weaned. I so dislike folks that are just trying to rid themselves of problem animals, without telling the whole truth. I was hoping Lady A could show Elsie that humans are not the devil. Maybe it doesn’t work that way with cattle? I’m glad that you are basically in one piece, save for your hand, from your attempts at milking her.

    • The man who sold her to me never tried to milk her, she was only ever a nurse cow.. his have fields and bulls, there is seldom any human intervention she is not aggressive when there is food, that is Lady so it would be natural for him to think she was gentle. And honestly if i blame someone else for this problem I lose my own power to fix it. It will be OK. Gentling the calf is most important now.. c

  20. You are wise to back away from Elsie the Wild and be safe. Growing up on a dairy farm, I remember seeing cows flail at my father. But the biggest concern was always the bull.

  21. Take a minimum work day and a nice long nap. If anybody can convince Elsie the Wild to let her milk it will be you.

  22. Dear Celi, I’m not so sure that a ‘more experienced dairywoman’ could handle crazy Elsie any better, at all. You have given it your best shot and, in your wisdom, know when to cut your losses. One of my favorite quotations is close to what you’ve said above: The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails.

    You’ll soon be milking Lady Astor, followed by the lovely goats and will have so much milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, soap and butter you can start a dairy business!

    All the best!

  23. Oh my goodness. I’m fascinated by al l the advice and comments. I too was wondering what might have happened in Elsie’s past to make her dislike humans so much. Mind you, I see a lot of human behavior that would set me off as well, these days. Oh well. We shall watch as the story unfolds. You hang in there, and follow those marvelous instincts of yours.

  24. You know, prey animals are born skeptics. When I was a horse-sick girl hanging out at the barn any chance I could get, I learned that lesson. Skepticism and a quick flight or fight response keeps these large animals going over the centuries. The wonder isn’t that Elsie isn’t up for this milking nonsense, in a way, it is that so many domesticated cows will put up with it. 🙂 I do worry about her on your small farm, though, you know? Large dangerous animal not inclined to like you is a different creature than a large dangerous animal inclined to sit on your couch and have a cuppa with you (I’m looking at you, Poppy). Take good care, Celi.

  25. It is amazing how a cow can kick …..considering how far away from their brain their arse
    end is. They can explode rather quickly ….. Her ears and eyes say it all.

    I know you will rest…….the body will turn up the volume if you don’t !!

  26. Ah well. You really have done all you can do now. In a month your will be able to breed Elise again. Although, you may want to wait awhile so you have another spring birth. I always preferred spring births, but when we had the dairy farm we HAD to have cows drying and birthing year round. Anyway, I digress…if you keep Elise you just might want to think of breeding to a gentle Milk Breed like a Jersey. Jersey’s are gentle and docile with sweet faces like deer. They are small and much easier for women to handle also the size insures they do not need as much feed as a larger dairy cow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_cattle

    The calves Elsie will throw from the mix of the breed will have her Belted mix and the sires….the color of cattle usually result from the bull…also this mix will mess up your purebred, but will produce a lovely milking cow. Jersey cows can produce huge amounts of milk.

    Just a thought…


    • I look forward to seeing how she does when The Lady Vet AI’s her. She is a pure bred 100% Dutch Belted. There are not that many of them so I think I will still go for the DB. And I agree about spring births. c

  27. Like others, I am concerned for you and your body calling for rest. A bit of wisdom shared with me which really did prove out was, ” If your body is exhausted and saying it needs rest and you don’t give it what it is asking for……and continue making withdrawals on the energy account….you will finally rest one way or another.” By choice or sickness. In my case it was sickness because I didn’t think I could slow down. And then I Had to slow down for a much longer time. Also, I was working with horses and the fatigue kept my mind from being sharp and alert…..not a good condition when working with large animals or equipment. All this to say, please, C, take care of your dear self so you take care of those dear animals for the long haul.

    As for your cow not liking people, in my experience, some critters just are missing the ‘computer chip’ for being sociable and agreeable. And would rather just be left alone. Some can be worked with and others are a liability. You have good instincts and will know exacting how to deal with this situation.

  28. You can’t make butter with goat’s milk?? I never knew that but since I have never seen goat’s butter, I guess you can’t! I learn something everyday here C. Amazing! 🙂 You go flop yourself down somewhere this afternoon and take a nice, long siesta! xo Chris

    • I think you can? I have read one process, but it seems very involved. maybe someone else in the fellowship knows an easy way, but cows give lots of cream and I can make LOTS of butter.

      • my Mother made the most delicious pies and German “kuchas” from that thick cream! and whipped cream on Strawberry shortcake in the spring! ymmmm!

          • the good ole cows cream! we would have a few 1 gallon jars in the fridge and 3-4 inches of cream on the top! and some of that would always get taken off the top and saved for apricot cream pie! peach cream pie! apple pie! and the big kuchas Mother made! oh those were the days!!

      • Goat’s milk is naturally homogenised, with much smaller fat particles than cow’s milk, so separating the cream for butter making is much more complicated. And if you make cheese from goat’s milk, you might find that the curd is a bit soft and weak compared with cow’s milk, especially if you use a vegetable rennet. You can get round this by adding calcium chloride. On the other hand, goat’s milk freezes well, where cow’s milk doesn’t because the larger fat particles tend to split out.

  29. Celi, well ~ this is life on the farm isn’t it! Every once in awhile a real challenge and sometimes it is better to let nature take over. But it makes me wonder what her background history is ~ what made her this way? wonder if she was “bullied” when she was young? and the seller said she is a nice quiet cow? maybe quiet by herself but not too lovey!! I grew up on a dairy farm ~ I think Elsie has a mind of her own and wants to be independent. ~ so yes be careful ~ those hind legs and hooves can do some real serious injuries. So we learn to be respectful and let them be. Elsie’s little calf is cute!!! “Sunshine” or “Surprise” looks kinda like you could pet her!! The baby chicks are looking cute! They are growing!
    Have a good one ~

  30. I had a cat like that from a kitten – he was wild, wild wild and nothing would change him no matter how much love and tenderness I gave him. He ended up blinding my dog with a claw 😦 Wise decision you have made….

  31. When you are so tired the soles of your feet ache, that is tired! Time to give them a rest. It’s almost like the little heifer was sent to give you a bit of a break.

  32. HI–you said that you love butter–but have you ever had goats butter–???
    When I was growing up a neighbor lady had goats and she made goats butter and always brought us some–
    I loved it–and have looked and looked for it now-but it seems no one makes it–
    still get goats cheese though and love that!!!
    so try to make some goats butter–you might like it better than cows butter!!

  33. some cows are like that, high strung and impossible to handle. Just last month I had to send a heifer cow back to the home farm because I could not handle her. If she has been used as a nurse cow perhaps you could put Lady A’s calf on her. The wee goats are lovely… they make me miss mine.

  34. Sorry it isn’t going to work out with Elsie, but it is best to keep you and her safe. At least she produced a future milk cow for the farmy.

  35. You’ve reminded me that Pick Your Battles should be the motto of the current days… and yesterday I read somewhere when times are tough look for the good. Something to work with. I love tools 🙂

  36. Well eha-mama joins Granny Nuri and Grannymar in their advice! Going by some matters remembered from the past methinks once Baby is weaned perhaps you better put an ad in the paper and hand Elsie over to someone not desiring a milking cow!! Hope the bub has not inherited mom’s temperament.

    • My Stars.. you are! I am better this afternoon. This morning I was just being a big baby. But why do the soles of my feet hurt Eha Mama? Is there some kind of clinical reason? Or is it my Soul in my Feet – hurting.

  37. It makes me happy that you know the personalities of your farm animals and birds. I have the same thoughts about the wildlife we nurture here. They’re all distinctly different, and we must roll with that. After all, would we appreciate someone trying to make us do what is not in us to do? I think not! You have made a good and wise decision that should benefit all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: