Monday, August 15, 2016

The newest addition to our little hobby farm: Sassafras

It's been quite a while since I posted, but I had a good reason! After having my second son, my world kind of "blew up" and I got very busy.  The saying "With one child you are a parent, with two you are a referee" rings true for me and my husband as our children seem to be best friends, but also their own worst enemies, sometimes in the blink of an eye. 

In all of the hustle and bustle of parenthood, we still have to live, and in "living" we've had several livestock related adventures.  Specifically due to having a 3-year old and a 1-year 5-month year old, who both find great enjoyment in our animals. 

On June 30, 2016 I purchased a 15-month old miniature-midsize jersey and named her Sassafras.

Her lineage is of miniature stock, but she grew to be 1" too tall to suit the prior owner (he was seeking to have an entirely miniature herd), and so chose to sell her to me for $1,600.   She is a dark brown, nearly black color, with lighter colored "socks" on her legs, and lighter colored "stripes" down her spine.  (Photo shows what I mean)

She had horns when I purchased her, so those had to come off immediately, and let me tell you what... I hope I never have to de-horn another cow for as long as I live! 

After spending every day outside in the sunshine on her 50-foot tie-out rope, the jersey color pattern is a little bit more noticeable through her back and legs, but she will never be accepted into some of the more prestigious miniature jersey registries as I had planned.

Some of the registries require immense amounts of information; correct coloring in specific areas, conformation, head shape, etc. and because she is such a dark color, and lacks the prominent white ring around her nose, the woman running the main registry wouldn't accept her.  

The backstory I was given on her and who her sires & dam's are cannot be verified any further than they already have so I can't really "fight" the refusal to allow registry. 

I intend to keep highly detailed records, and to register her calf/calves but without having her full lineage confirming that she is the grandsire of Riverview Bobby (among other names), the lineage records starts with me.  Perhaps if I stick with this, I will end up having a whole herd of miniature jersey's; who knows.  Perhaps some day.

Through a neighbor we purchased some huge bales of straw to use as her bedding.  2 sections of that is more than enough to toss down on the floor of her pen, so I'll be doing well for bedding for a very very long time.   She is so partial to the straw though that she has chosen to keep her "bed" separate from her other activities in the pen such as eating and discharging waste.  This photo is of her laying down on her bed when she got bored of my presence in her pen.   I guess she decided that if I wasn't going to give her anything to eat, and wasn't going to brush her, that I was no longer "useful" and so it was time to tell me to go away by laying down.

When I made the choice to purchase a miniature jersey cow, I was also making the decision to allow the chickens to become less prominent in our livestock ownership ventures for the time being. 

I need the income from the eggs, but one of the main contributing factors on the decision to ease off on the chickens, was concerning my oldest son's fear of the birds because they have pecked his hands a few times thinking that he had food. The second factor was that I had a big old swamp coon that was eating any bird he could get his talons into, and it was just not good business to continue purchasing chicks only to have them eaten by the swamp coon.

When Sassy first came home my son was even a little uneasy around her, because of not knowing if she would hurt him or what she would do when he would come around but he has warmed up to her a lot, and even goes to the barn to scratch her and brush her without me now.  He has been over-heard telling his grandmother that "Mommy's cow is pretty good!  She is my favorite pet!" Which I enjoyed of course because I've been wanting a pet cow for about 8-years now.

One adventure which I was concerned would scare him, was the fact that during "standing heat", I was careless about watching my back, and she mounted me, pinning me against the fence until she was finished humping.  My son watched the whole thing, and even though it hurt (she weighs in around 500lbs) I knew I had to talk to him about what he had just seen otherwise he would be fearful of her.  But how do you explain to a 3-year old, why the cow had just mounted mommy and was humping her?  It was quite comical I suppose, the way I was stumbling around trying to explain it in a way that he could understand, yet wouldn't scare him... yes I pulled it off.  I basically just told him "Mommy is OK.  Sassy is lonely. She wants Mommy to find a daddy cow for her to have a baby with."  He looked at me very solemnly and said "OK Mommy".  Later, he was talking to my sister and he said "Mommy got humped by the cow".  Meg said "What!?"  He repeated it, and she asked "Did you see this happen??"  He nodded and repeated "I saw it!", then when he thought she didn't believe him he told her very emphatically "I'm not lying!  I saw it Aunt Megan!  I saw Mommy get humped by the cow!  Sassy is lonely!  She wants Mommy to find her a bull so she can have a baby!"  My sister's jaw just hit the floor I guess... which kind of made the whole situation all the more hilarious than before because how many other people can say that they got humped by a cow in heat?  And that their 3-year old has given his 20-year old aunt a bovine biology lesson!  lol!

All in all I would say that Sassafras has been a good addition to our little farm.  She has proven herself to be a sweet tempered little girl, and if all goes as planned, I will have her bred to a miniature jersey bull of the Dexter Corners lineage, by the end of the month.  The bull resides in Texas at this point in time, but of course artificial insemination is always an option, and one which we are going to attempt this time around.  DC Ebenezer is supposed to be within the size range I would like to see but is heterozygous polled, which means we have a 50% chance of horns. 

** Sassy is 100% horned, I had her DNA tested during the registry negotiations so I would know exactly how likely we would be to having a horned calf, as well as if she had any DNA issues that I should be concerned with such as having the bull dog gene (a gene malformation in Dexter cattle; some people will cross dexters with jerseys in an effort to accomplish size requirements.  It's a method of cutting corners instead of actually doing the breeding correctly.

Updates on the cattle breeding adventures to follow! 

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