The Calves

Yesterday I paid a visit to the calves.


These guys are the 2014 “crop” of calves as they were born in March and April of 2014. Ours is a cow/calf operation and we have calves only once a year, in the spring.

When they were born, they weighed 80-90 pounds.

Awww…cute and huggable.


But now at nearly a year old, they are tipping the scales at about 600 pounds.

NOT cute and huggable.


To give them a hug now, first you’d have to catch them- good luck with that – they run like little racehorses. And even if you could catch up with one of them, he would probably kick the crap out of you if you tried to hug him.

The first 7 months of their lives were spent with their mamas, the cows, nursing her rich milk and grazing on summer grass. But in late October, we pulled the herd off the grass and weaned the calves off the cows by sorting the calves from the cows and putting them in adjoining pens. There was lots of bawling on both sides:

“I want to nurse from my mama!! Wahhhhhhhh!!”

“I want my kid to nurse, my bag is getting tight!!!!  Wahhhhh!!!!!!!!! “

But after a few days, the cows forgot about their kids went out to the harvested cornfield to eat the remains of the corn plants, while the calves stayed behind in the lot. We’re feeding the calves a ground-up mixture of hay, soybean meal, vitamins, salt, minerals, and distiller’s grain (a by-product of ethanol production – it’s essentially ground- up corn).

In a few weeks, we’ll sort off about a dozen of the female calves (heifers) to keep and use as replacements for any cows we’ll have to cull from the herd this year. The rest of the calves will be sold at auction in a few weeks. The heifers will stay on the farm and be bred by the bulls next summer, having their first calves in March of 2016. After the heifers have their first calves, they will not be called “heifers” anymore, but will be known as “cows”.

Meanwhile, the cow herd was bred in the early summer 2014, and will be having this year’s calves starting March 1, 2015. If the bulls did their job in a timely manner, all the cows will have their calves in a 2 month period, and we’ll be done calving by late April.

Soon we’ll have some little calves on the farm again.

Cute and huggable!


The calf that is, not the cow. She’ll kick the crap out of you if you try to hug her.



Cattle, corn, wheat, beans, mud, snow, ice, and drought. Plenty of fresh air and quiet. Our life is sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes joyous, but never boring.

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9 Responses

  1. Alica says:

    Oh yes…those mama cows are over protective! How’s the crazy lady that you featured last year (?) on your blog? Is she still crazy? 🙂

  2. Haven says:

    Yeah, mama doesn’t look like she wants a hug AT ALL. Those babies are definitely huggable though! Love reading your updates.

  3. Dorothy says:

    I missed out on helping with my parents’ cattle as that was my dad’s retirement project and now my brothers have taken over, but it is such a joy to travel to their house and see the new calves, but then they unfortunately have to grow up. Last year, when my brother was trying to wean the babies from their mommas, he had one momma that was not happy and kept jumping the fence when he was trying to move them between pastures. Needless to say, the momma ended up at the sale barn once they could get her cornered in a trailer.

  4. Jeanne says:

    Yup! The babies are definitely adorable! I agree – I’d stay away from the older ones and the mamas! I’m glad to hear that the “crazy mama” from last year has settled down some – but who knows what’ll happen when she calves again?!!

  5. Linda says:

    I’m trying to think — I do believe we have spring calves and fall calves down here. Of course, the weather is more conducive to that kind of thing. I’ll have to explore and see if that’s true. It may be that there just are late calves that still look pretty young in November and December.

    In any event, they are cute as the dickens. Here we go — into a new year and another cycle!

  6. Carol says:

    The Circle of Life…Suzanne, do you think the mama cows remember their calves from past years? I was reading about elephants who remember friends from twenty years ago.

    • Suzanne says:

      I’ve wondered about this too, and have asked Harland about it in the past. I wondered if the cows remember the heifers we keep from each year’s group of calves, because eventually they are turned back in with their mothers about a year later. He thinks they do remember their own calves, even in adulthood. Despite their dopey appearance, they have pretty good memories.

  7. Carol says:

    Silly question I guess, maybe they don’t live long enough to know what they remember.

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