Due dates, more marmalade and halter training...
It almost feels like spring is in the air, there have been several days this week when the temperature has got up above 9 degrees and the sun has been shining. To make it feel all the more like spring there was a new calf this morning. I’ve been keeping an eye on Cypress as I have calculated all the due dates for our cattle, based on the vet’s prediction of how in calf they were when she PD’d them, and put them on the calendar. Cypress was due according to my calculations on the 27th January. So far no calf, which is making my predictions look pretty stupid. Every morning when I go to feed them I check, hopeful to see a little brown and white blob, but no luck. Then this morning here he is! The first of the year and the first ‘K’ is named Kookaburra. Like all calves he is massive eyed and long legged, I look forward to seeing him running about, well done Cypress!
The house is starting to look like a marmalade factory. We are now in top gear as far as chopping, boiling and bottling marmalade is concerned. This week I actually got a blister from chopping. Next weekend is the Dalemain marmalade festival and we will be having a stall there all weekend. We have finally this weekend entered our submissions to the competition, including those from Halo and Croftlands, two of the groups who regularly come to help on the farm. I hope they win something.
We have been discussing halter training our young store cattle. If they would walk on a halter it would make life so much easier when we have to move them anywhere, if the vet needs to see them or if they need some medicine. I don’t think I’m quite up to showing them. We have enlisted the help of Nicky Luckett who is a local pedigree Longhorn breeder, expert in showing cattle and provided us with a couple of our cows way back in the day (Yolanda and Wasi) Nicky has a few youngsters to halter train so we are going over to help and hopefully learn a bit. The kindest way to do it is in stages with lots of encouragement, this group are heifer calves aged between 8 months and 1 year old. The first job is to actually get the halter on the calf; some are calmer than others. I feel a little like a cow-girl trying to lasso the halter over the horns and ears, but I eventually decide they don’t know me well enough to let me get close enough. We get one into the race and then it is a little easier. The next trick is to try and get the heifer to walk along a little with the halter on, and me holding the other end. These calves are strong and I get dragged around quite a bit but eventually a measure of calm is reached and we move on to the next. Lavender is the last we get to and she is not keen. I manage to get the halter on without too much difficulty but she has a good stamp on my foot in the process, that’s going to bruise! After a bit of fighting me, bucking around and upsetting the others we have calm again. We leave them for a little while to get used to the feeling of the halter. If they wear it for an hour or so a day for a week they get used to it and then you can start trying to lead them. The process takes massive amounts of patience and a lot of sweet talking.The advantages are obvious; cattle that are calm when being handled.