Thursday, December 13, 2012

Buffs Getting Buffer

The calves, they are a changin'--and fast! I'm wracking my brain trying to remember all the changes, big and small, that I have observed in them as they passed the 3-, 4-, and now 5-month mark. The switches at the end of their tails have turned from white to golden as expected. Their horns are getting longer and their bodies are getting wider. And taller. Much taller. In case you've forgotten (I know I had), let's review just how small they used to be:

Here they are at birth on 07/12/12 (Chuck, then Mabel):

By two months, they looked like this--taller but still narrow and little nubs for horns:

And now:

Mabel still has the sweetest face and her auburn hair is unique in the herd. Personality-wise she seems to be taking after her Aunt Audrey--very affectionate and gentle.

She tends to hang very close to the herd. Sometimes it's with Effie, her mom, sometimes Audrey, but frequently, she hangs with dad. Eschol is still a monumental pain in the rear for me but he has turned out to be really good with the calves.

It's hard to see her horns since they're swept back behind her luxurious locks. She has a fine head of what we refer to as "Elvis hair".  Here's a view from the back (down in front, Chuck!):

Then there's Chuck:

Longer horns going out to the side, a more serious (often mischievous) look on his face, and already he is showing some of the beefiness in his face that we associate with the bulls. Sadly, he is also turning out to be a little turd. He apparently has been observing Eschol closely and likes what he sees. It didn't take more than a couple of months before he decided that it was more fun to charge me while I mucked out the barn than eat his hay (my usual way to distract the herd so I can work). Fortunately, I'm still more clever than he is so I have avoided contact but I was hoping for more of a honeymoon period before I had to keep an eye out for two bulls. It's clear that at this stage, he's just having fun and testing his boundaries. He has learned that none of the females in his life are amused by his antics, so he mostly headbutts Eschol for practice. Eschol has moderated his return butts such that Chuck gets practice without getting annihilated. He doesn't let Chuck push him around, mind you, but he's more merciful than I would have expected. If Chuck gets too obnoxious, Eschol lets him know that it's time to go away and he does so in no uncertain terms.

At least Chuck hasn't broken my 300 gallon stock tank or ripped the boards off the front of the barn like his dad. I'm sure that is not far off in the future. He is already showing a more independent streak. He often wanders off from the herd and is fond of playing last-one-in-wins when I'm trying to cross them back in to their main pasture before night falls. We've had a few rounds of tug-of-calf. His horns are long enough to grab but these guys do not respond well to being led by the horns. So far, I've won but only because I can still bump him from behind hard enough to move him--much like they move each other along. That will not be the case for long. Bribery will become the only option.

In many ways, both Chuck and Mabel are acting like miniature versions of their parents and seem fully integrated into the daily rhythms of the herd. They started grazing like the adults within the first couple of months (and now that the grass is gone, they eat the hay I put down) but they have continued to nurse. I suspect that's tapering off now but I do still catch them nursing now and again. I'm thrilled that it has gone on this long.

Thanks to the rich milk, both Chuck and Mabel have put on a healthy layer of fat over their bones. That, plus a luxuriously thick coat of hair, means they should stay plenty warm this winter. And that's the news on our barnfull of buffalo.

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