Monday, July 16, 2012

Chuck and Mabel

So, here we are, several days in and things have calmed down considerably. Audrey's eye cleared up the day after she calved. Eschol and Effie have quieted down now that they're together again. No more jail breaks. Chuck's leg is looking straighter--as much as one that is so naturally knobbly kneed can possibly look--and he and Mabel are both nursing well. The one unfortunate thing is that we never were able to convince Effie to take an interest in her calf. She fought us hard on this one, complete with bluff charging us when we tried to move her into the pasture near the barn where her calf is residing. In the meantime, her udder is getting very flabby. Maybe it never was that full but it sure isn't in good form for providing milk to anyone now.

Audrey, however, is turning out to be a champ at mothering. She is letting both calves nurse and treats them as if they were both her own. If they aren't where she wants them to be, she can move them with just a look or a gentle grunt and boy do they ever respond.  She has taught them how to stay hidden when she goes out to graze and she has both visual and vocal control over them. Several times now, I've gone out to check on them and thought I'd lost a calf. There's not much grass in their pasture (had just taken the herd off of it recently to let it regrow) so it's pretty easy to scan and see everything. Or so I thought. 

See the buffalo? I didn't. That's Chuck in the weeds down by the culvert that runs under the driveway. It wasn't until Audrey and Mabel came out to see why I was wandering around that I figured it out. They made it easy by pointing to him with their gaze. Silly human. They're so easy to fool.

I realized that I didn't give you many pictures of Mabel from her birthday. The second child always gets shafted. Here are a few to help make up for the initial slight. 

Not to worry. She's not hypoxic. Just a weird function of the early morning light in the barn and my limited camera skills. 

That's more like it. Except now she's doing the dog thing with one ear up.

Breakfast time.

It's been fun having both calves at the same time. When I started keeping bees I was told it's best to have two hives so you can compare their progress. As a first-timer with water buffalo, it sure has been helpful to have two. I don't ever know which one is the representative of what is typical and maybe neither of them are but I find seeing the variations between the two somehow calming.

Mabel definitely takes after her biological mother, Effie. Her hide is a slightly lighter color and her haircoat is much less thick than Chuck's. She is also quite assertive about getting her needs met be that food, attention, or time to explore. She found her feet the very first day and has been climbing, running, and jumping ever since. I really need to rent a video camera so I can capture her in all her exuberant glory.

Chuck, on the other hand, is much more like Audrey. Darker coat, thicker hair, and calm. So calm I was worried about him the first few days. He spent so much time lying down, I wasn't sure he was getting enough to eat. Maybe his leg was bothering him. But then I thought about Audrey and realized that it may just be personality. And calm buffalo is so much nicer than spaz buffalo when they get bigger. I've seen enough evidence both on the gozinta and the gozoutta end of the digestive process to know that he's eating.

Chuck was very slow to find his feet. He's still not a graceful walker but he is moving around more as of yesterday. And today he discovered running. He's much better with momentum on his side. Maybe he's overthinking things when he tries to walk. I notice that he seems unsure of what order the hooves are supposed to hit the ground. He's very tentative. And when he goes to turn left for example, instead of moving the left front foot first, he picks up the right and crosses it over the left. But when he goes pronking across the barn floor or races out into the pasture, he has no such hesitation. The little spurts of energy don't last too long but they sure are a delight to see.

Also new today, sibling playtime. Today's the first I've seen these two really interact with each other beyond jockeying for pole position at the udder. They are starting to sniff each other, bump into each other, nap together, and generally act like they recognize that they're part of a herd, not just individual buffs. 

I am loving early mornings in the barn right now. Everyone's very mellow and there's a lot of love going around. The calves run up to me when I arrive, sometimes to their mother's consternation when she clearly is trying to get some rest and rumination time. It's best if I can sneak in while they're nursing so I can just sit and watch and listen to happy slurpy sounds. Then we can have playtime when they're done. Both calves are already doing the roll over for a belly rub thing. I love that this behavior seems hardwired in them. It's also a hoot to see a calf do it. Mabel's so flexible that she flops over on her back like a dog, letting her legs flop out on each side. That won't last long I'm sure but it sure is cute. I try to soak in as much of this happy as I can before returning to the long to-do list.

Right now, we're running two separate herds in our very limited space. And the flood threw our rotational grazing plan into disarray. It would be tough with one unified herd but with two groupings, it's really nuts. Normally, I love a good logistical challenge but this may eventually outstrip even my considerable talents in this arena. We made some progress clearing out flood debris and taking out the damaged barbed-wire fence this weekend but it will be quite a while before we can get the permanent fence redesigned and installed (still haven't had a day without rain since the flood). I've got more temporary fence supplies on the way and will work on creating something halfway feasible once those arrive. At least the new windows for the house are in and the final trim work on those should be completed tomorrow. Am looking forward to having window screens again. The june bugs are getting quite aggressive. Maybe because it's July.

1 comment:

  1. Love reading all about the little ones! We get so many over here that I forget to stop and enjoy the calves as they discover things for the first time.