Saturday, January 19, 2013

Raising Hope - A story from the farm

As some of you know, 2012 was a tough year for us. I won't get into details about all of it here in this blog because I want to talk about Hope. He's a calf who was born in on November 8th to our cow Princess. Unfortunately, Princess was an elderly cow (probably 14 or 15, we are not sure) and was battling an abscess in her jaw. We were treating her, but the stress of child beaaring, her age, and the infection was too much for her.

Here's a picture of Hope the day he was born. Princess had given birth not long before we went up to feed the cattle. You can tell because Hope's umbilical cord is still wet. He was healthy enough on that first day, but we were watching closely because we'd been treating his mama for her infection. We named him Hope because we were hoping the best for both him and Princess.

On the 2nd day, I noticed her bag was not developed and Hope seemed week. We filled up a bottle of milk replacer and took it to him. It was a struggle at first, but John held him and I put the bottle in his mouth and squirted some in to let him taste the milk. Eventually he took to it.

The next day, was horribly windy and Princess and Hope were not with the rest of he herd. We figured they would be down in the cedars for protection, and they were. We coaxed them up the hill and I fed Hope. Fortunately, this time John had the camera. It doesn't show here, but Hope has a way of letting us know when he's done. When he was very young, it was only a lip tremble, but now it is a full body quiver.

Unfortunately, Princess passed away when Hope was a couple of weeks old. She tried hard to be with him, standing by him and laying by him in the sun. But the infection was too much for her. On the day before she died, Hope did not want to eat. If anyone is curious -- cows DO mourn. I have seen mothers mourn for their fallen calves and calves morn for their mothers. It is not physiological, it is emotional. And that day, Hope was mourning.

Princess passed away on a windy day. Hope went back to eating and two of the other matrons in the heard, Ghost and Blackie, watched over him. Ghost let him suckle too, but she has a calf of her own to take care of, so we try to keep Hope well fed so he won't suckle her too much. We burned Hope a day later, after the winds were calm and the herd had had a chance to say goodbye.

Hope's been eating very well since then. He eagerly looks forward to his bottles. When I call his name, he runs to me, licking his lips. He eats twice a day -- between 10 and 12 quarts every day. He is starting to nibble on a bit of solid food now, so hopefully we'll be weaning him soon. Here's a video of Hope a few days ago...when he was just over 2 months old. As you can see, he has grown a lot. And he drinks his milk with gusto!


  1. Aww so cute! OK spoil him it's simple he is too cute not to make a pet of!

  2. I can spoil him a little, but he has to be a cow too. He is going to be my brother-in-law's bull when he gets his herd together in a year or so.

  3. PepiSmartDog: Hi Rachelle, sure hope this year is a great one for you and your family. You've certainly earned it! Lovely to see how well Hope is doing.
    Thank you for posting in Thankful Thursday and I look forward to your next post. Hugs. :=o)