New Year, New Calves

Hello again folks, and Happy New Year! Although, it’s just a new set of days with a date ending in a 2 instead of a 1, isn’t it?

The new year never really holds much significance for me. I prefer to count in moments, not years, or else the comparison between other years and others’ lives starts to seep in. It can be a tough time when your life looks a lot different from ‘the norm’, it’s a time of year when you’re even more surrounded by reminders of that. So, I tend to bunker down and try and block the world out for a bit.

But I just wanted to check in (preferably before January ends, how are we already almost half way through?) and say a huge thank you for your incredible support last year, especially throughout December.

I’m still not sure how I managed to keep up with Blogmas and write those A-to-Z Farm Dictionary Advent Calendar posts, but they’ve got to be my blogging highlight so far, and I’m delighted that so many of you enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

I think if I have a crack at Blogmas again, it might be a good idea to do a bit of planning in advance though… instead of only deciding to do it on the final day of November. It certainly dominated the whole month! Although, it was the perfect distraction to keep my mind off the aforementioned approach of the end of the year and all the little niggles that brings with it.

Writing so much was a bit of a shock to the system after a year where regular writing, and my 2-year achievement of sharing at least 1 post a month with you, sort of went out of the window, thanks to all my focus and energy suddenly being needed elsewhere.

2021 won’t be forgotten in a hurry around here…

If I were to write a round-up of 2021, it would mostly centre around one of our Labradors slipping a disc in his neck and needing emergency surgery, then months of strict R&R. Meaning my mum and I basically spent the summer days living in our kitchen with him, watching his every move.

Miraculously, he’s now mostly back to his usual, energy-filled self. It’s like he has a new lease of life, although a bit of a different one, since his beloved ball games are now banned, as is throwing himself down the stairs at speed, so we’ve had to discover new ways of using up his energy (and ours). We’re so grateful to still have him here with us though.

Although, he still likes to worry us a bit, to keep us on our toes!

What with him and his ear infection-prone brother, my now 29-year-old horse, who every so often likes to injure himself in obscure ways, and the cows, who enjoy throwing a curveball or two, we seemed to see our vets a lot last year. If I were a resolution person, the top of the list would be to see them a lot less in 2022 (although, we’re not off to a good start with that, having just had a vet visit for a cow with Mastitis!).

So, what might this year have in store?

Hopefully, a lot of healthy, bouncy calves. Two of which have already arrived, as Gertrude the cow had her twins in December.

If you’ve been reading the Blogmas posts you’ll know we AI’ed her to a Lincoln Red bull to try and get some purebred heifer calves to keep for breeding… So, of course, she had two bull calves. But alive and healthy were the main aims, and they certainly tick those boxes!

She had a bit of a drawn-out calving, for some unknown reason, and after about 4 hours of slow progress, my dad ended up helping her have the first one; conscious there was a second she needed to conserve her energy for. But she popped the second our herself with no issues, and thankfully (because it was 5am by this point), had them both bathed and fed in no time without needing any assistance.

They’re like baby bison with their dark red, fluffy coats, and are the friendliest calves we’ve ever had. They love scratches already, just like all their Lincoln Red aunties in the herd.

Their presence has been extremely welcomed during these long winter days. Seeing them both careering around their pen is the perfect pick-me-up!

The loose plan is for them to remain here for the following two years or so, receiving as many scratches as they like, and hopefully, then leave the farm for the first time to return as beef boxes, which should, if all goes to plan, be available in 2024…

So, you can count on their lives being well documented on here. I think it’s such a privilege to get to know the whole story of your food, and I’d love to be able to give that to people.

They should be getting some friends to run around with next month- beginning from around 28th January, if I’ve got the dates right.

We vaccinated the expectant mothers last week against viruses that cause scours (diarrhoea) in the calves, so the new arrivals will now be protected when they drink that all-important colostrum. And also gave them their pre-calving mineral top-up in the form of boluses. So, now it’s just a case of counting down the weeks…

That’s the marker of the start of a new year for me; not the day on the calendar but the arrival of new life. A new cycle beginning again.

And I can’t wait, can you?

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