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May 18, 2014 | Farm Snapshot
Calving Season Complete
All the calves for Spring Calving have arrived. As a small farm, each of these animals has a spot within the future of our farm. –Doreen Barker
May 18, 2014 | Farm Snapshot
Calving Season Complete
All the calves for Spring Calving have arrived. As a small farm, each of these animals has a spot within the future of our farm. –Doreen Barker

Youtube VideosSpring calving is finished! We welcomed seven new calves this spring. Five of them are heifers and are the future to our herd. Heifers are important because they allow us to grow and expand our operation as the years go by. For us, it allows us to raise and handle them as they grow. We learn their personalities and each one is very different from the next.

The first calf came on April 7th. She was born around 5:30 in the evening and came as a surprise on a cold, rainy day. Her mother, Kira, was a first calf heifer that was purchased as a day old calf from a local auction house. I have no idea what her genetics are but she gave us a beautiful red heifer calf that was named Kailyn.

Kailyn still roams the pastures with her mother and has gained lots of weight during her six weeks of life. She is a docile calf but she loves to play and run with the other calves she has as pasture mates.

The second calf was born on April 8th. His birth and first moments were captured in the video and calves post. His mother Katie (whose name is actually Kathryn) was born on Rich's mothers birthday and is her name sake. He was named Jester because of his white tipped tail, white booted back feet and because he acts like a clown.

Jester is all bull. He loves to run for long periods of time. He kicks up his hooves and never seems to slow down. He is also still with his mom and growing fast.

Calf number three came on April 28th. Minnie, the shortest Irish Dexter in our herd, gave birth to a heifer calf around 7:30 pm with a simple push and a gush of calf and amniotic fluid. She is also the third heifer calf that her mother has given birth to on the farm. The "mini" line of the Dexter's all start with hyphenated names. This little one is affectionately named Minnie-Pearl or Pearl for short.

Minnie Pearl is a sweet girl who loves laying in the sunshine. She loves having the top of her head and chin scratched. She is loved and cared for by her mother, who keeps a close watch on her and is never very far away. She is the second smallest calf born this year.

On May 3rd, Rich went out to the pasture and came back talking about "May" the calf. It took me a few minutes to figure out that we had another calf that had been born! Annie had given birth to a big, fuzzy heifer just prior to his pasture walk. Her name was deemed Ava after hosting a "name this calf" posting on our farm facebook page

Ava always watches where you go. She doesn't think she likes people yet but her mother keeps trying to show her that body massages and butt scratches are really nice. Ava is the biggest and fuzziest of the Irish Dexter calves. She is more independent but loves taking naps with her extended family.

The fifth calf arrived around 7 pm on May 8th. Mini-Me is her mother and was the very first Irish Dexter heifer to be born on the farm. We got to watch as she progressed during labor. She was still grazing right up until the calf came. We managed to capture a series of videos of the before, during and after of her calf coming. It's posted on our Youtube videos. The calf is named after my great grandmother since she was also a "Minnie". Her full name is Minnie-Maude or Maude for short.

Minnie Maude and her mother, Mini-Me. Maude is the second generation of Irish Dexter heifers born on the farm. Maude is an escape artist and likes to freak her mother and us farmers out. She is the smallest of the Dexters. Don't let her size fool you though, she is full of energy and loves to run.

The next calf gave all of us a fright. She was part of the story we shared over on Friday Night Lights. Her mother, being a first calf heifer, didn't know that she was to keep her calf close. Our first initial time seeing her was well after dark, on May 9th, when she was spotted in the road by a kind stranger who stopped to let us know. There was no debates about her name. Lucky is what she is, so Lucky is her name. After the first initial night, she has been glued to her mothers side and Charity, her mother, keeps a much closer eye on her.

Lucky is a handful. She is constantly running and playing. Sometimes, her legs move faster than her body can handle and she skids to the ground but she always jumps right back up and continues on her way. Lucky and her mother Charity are very close now. Neither like to be very far from each other.

The last calf came on May 14th just before chore time. While doing milking chores, I was working on putting the dairy cows and calves back into the grazing pasture when I noticed that Meanie (named that way because she is the boss cow) had freshened (given birth). At first glance, I thought that the little calf was red. We inspected the calf after chores were completed and discovered it was a boy. He is called Mr. T. Mr. T is actually a Dun colored Irish Dexter bull calf. He is a special boy who will be staying on the farm for a few years to come and will eventually become the father of the generations to come within the Dexter herd.

He loves to hide from the rest of the herd, just under and on the other side of the temporary fences that he can walk under. He is docile and loves to have his head and neck rubbed.

Now that all of the spring calves are here, our next step is to start thinking about breeding for next spring and which bulls to utilize on which cows. We have to plan months in advance because we aim to have calves born in a little bit nicer weather when it is less stressful for the calves and for us. We like having calves born in April and May each year.

It's hard to believe that just three years ago we only had a few cows to have calves each year. Next year it will be eight cows and three more heifers. The following year it will be 11 cows and 5 more heifers. It sure doesn't take long to grow a herd at the rates we are going. I'm already finding it hard to believe that we now have 27 head of cattle between the bulls, cows, steers, heifers and calves. It's really hard to imagine that in spring of 2008, we had just one here. Time sure does fly when you're having fun!

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