Life in the Slow Lane Jan. 12, 2016

Georgie, my little steer, is now nine months old. This means he stands above waist high to me and his horns (such as they are--Jerseys don't have big horns, thank heavens!) are fully grown out. And he's got personality oozing out of his pores.

Dang it! The last thing I want is to get attached to that not-so-little creature. He's destined for one thing, the dinner table. I don't need a pet steer. But Hannah does need a big brother. At least right now.

That weaning thing is still a work in progress, and it's not progressing very quickly. Neither Elsie nor Hannah want their mother-daughter time to end. They've been apart for a full week now, something that the rain made really difficult. I usually put Elsie down in the lower pasture near the creek. But last week the creek was swollen and rising. I've seen the creek when it's at full flood and it's pretty scary. I didn't want to put Elsie in harm's way, so I locked her into my orchard where she wreaked havoc on my little apricot trees. Argh. The only positive is that every other time I've kept them apart this long, the both spent the day bellowing. This time, Hannah makes a few noisy complaints then settles down to spending the day with her big (sort of) brother. Then again she's five months old now as of January 10th. Surely, this means her system is ready to stop with the milk.

Speaking of the milk, Elsie has surprised me. Last year was her first fresh, meaning her first time producing milk that wasn't for a calf. She only managed to stay in milk for five months. This time, as the five month mark passed two days ago, Elsie seems to have settled into a steady two gallons a day. That's not much milk for a Jersey, but I suspect Elsie's not a full-blooded Jersey. Buying a cow is a lot like buying a used car. Certain facts just don't get mentioned. I'm not complaining, mind you. First of all, two gallons a day is plenty of milk for me. And, if Elsie isn't full Jersey, this means that at worst, Hannah is half Jersey as her sire was a Jersey bull. That might offer Hannah some protection from Milk Fever, which hits Jerseys hardest.

So, back to Georgie. He wants to play all the time these days. I actually think he likes the cold weather, or perhaps he likes the sun warming him up on a cold winter day. Whatever it is, he's been unfortunately frisky. Why unfortunately? Because cows play by head butting and he has those hard little horns, and Hannah won't play with him because of that. Moosie and Bear have learned to keep half an eye aimed over their shoulders when he's close by. The turkeys are always vigilant around him. He especially wants to hit Tom because Tom spends much of his day puffed up, his tail feathers spread wide. That presents Georgie with a very attractive target. I'm always aware of where he is when I'm out walking the fields. I, apparently, also present a tempting target. Maybe that's because I turn around and grab him by the horns and shake his head. Maybe I should stop doing that....

Last week, my niece Danielle came to visit and we had a marvelous time together. We made cheese for her to take home and Jalapeno Jelly, which we then delivered to Pillsbury Wine Company downtown Cottonwood, where we went on to do a little wine tasting. And Danielle played with Georgie. She even got him his own toy, a pretty blue ball--one of those big yoga balls--that Moosie tried to steal. Luckily, no matter how Moosie tried he wasn't able to master the art of walking on top of the ball, so when he finally gave up and George circled back in on his toy.

But, try as mightily as he could, the ball refused to butt back. It just kept bouncing away from him. He tried dancing around it, threatening it with much head shaking. No response. He even backed up on it and tried a good kick. It didn't kick back. After two days of effort, Georgie was over it. He went back to chasing the turkeys and the dogs, and he once again started climbing onto the commercial kitchen porch to see if I might be in the kitchen. I also caught him peering into the laundry room door. I think he was hoping it might be open the way it was the one time he walked into the house. No luck. He's considered walking up the eight steps that lead to the back porch, but that many steps seems to confound him. Stair climbing is not a natural cow trait, I guess.

Yesterday he spent the whole afternoon in the parking area, trying to convince the dogs to play with him. When they refused, he went under the porch and lowed. It was a 10-year-old's whine. "I'm so bored! There's nothing to do around here."

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