It’s time for Lola to get pregnant. She gave birth last October and for a while now she’s steadily been winding back her milk supply. Over the months all cow committee members have enjoyed a steady stream of the most interesting milk. How is milk interesting? The seasonal variation surprised me and the daily variation in cream content, salt content, volume and texture is always a talking point between us all. It made me realise what a wrecker pasteurisation is.
It’s been a lush, creamy, abundant ride. I love having a cow to milk (and brush and herd and cajole and admire). The rhythms associated with the habits of a large beast are calming and reassuring.
Had we been really organised we might have found a suitor for Lola earlier. We might have gone down the route of artificial insemination six months ago thereby ensuring a continued supply up until two months before she gave birth (drying the expectant mother off two months prior to birth allows the goodies to build up for the calf). We didn’t get around to it and no one really minds.
As it is, we decided to dry her off now and take her to a nearby bull for a sexy holiday. Ross (a real live farmer) had hired an Angus bull to impregnate his ladies and generously offered his services. A few kilometres of a lovely stroll along quiet Yandoit roads and pow! an easy delivery to the bull.
Cows like their routines – they like to do stuff they do all the time. They don’t love the new, they get skittish and start to jog. Which is what Lola did as soon as we started her down the road from mine. So Zack had to jog and then we were all racing to keep up with her and that’s exactly what you don’t want. Claire out for a stroll on pram patrol, Nikki with the crack bucket and me not really anywhere useful. Then out of the trees came Svetlana. We’d left her (a teenager at one and a half) back at mine and she’d busted out of the pen. Unhappy alone and characteristically curious she was making her way to us at speed.
It all started to get funny. The sky was blue, it felt like spring, we were droving, the cows were out of control, it felt good. We gave into laughter and some shrieking.
What can work for you, at a time like this, is the irresistible pull fellow animals exert on a couple of cows running free. We got to a corner and the cows turned left, up the hill, toward G’s horses and M & D’s photogenic trio of donkey and Highland cows.
A meeting took place.
Take a look at the size of Hercules’ head. He’s a big lad and wonderful to behold up close. Svetlana had never seen the likes. On the other side of the road G’s horses:
Lola and Svetlana thusly occupied we took a moment and made a plan.
“Let’s put Svetlana in with the horses and continue on.” It got better after that. Lola settled and we made our way serenely.
Upon arriving at Ross’s field we took Lola in and had a look at the bull. Bloody massive. With a greasy back, immense dangling gonads and flaring nostrils I had the clear feeling that you could never really get to know this animal. With Lola innocently nibbling the hors d’oeuvre in the paddock next door and looking over to us, I felt both protective and curious for her.
Lola and the bull will spend some weeks together. We need to wait until she comes into season and then it will be on for one and all. Lola will be pregnant for nine months, she’ll give birth and then we’ll whip away the Angus/ Jersey calf so that we can steal her milk for ourselves. It’s harsh but when the industrialised dairy industry is the reality for most, Lola’s lot is looking very rosy indeed. As for the calf? A happy year at Zack and Tracy’s place and then there’ll be a swift death, a division into freezers and a big fight over who gets the rug.