Apr 13, 2012

Welcome to the

(Sorry,  NO VACANCY!)

We are in the middle of
Calfing Season!

This year has been like no other...
instead of the calves being born one at a time over a period
 of from four to five weeks,

this year we got...
12 (out of a total of 19) IN 11 DAYS!!
And several times we got 2 in one day!

Since this picture was taken, another arrived on the 29th
 and that made 13 in 12 days which means that 
we only have 6 more left to go.

Everywhere you look, there are: 

 ladies in waiting, 
both standing up and lying down,

mothers licking up their newborn calves just after birth,

not to mention moo-triarchs like these two who have agreed to
"double occupancy"
in the maternity ward,
sharing happily with each other and their two baby girls!

  Because the calves were coming so thick and fast,
 we made the decision to move last year's heifers
 from inside the barn to a sheltered outdoor pen.
We needed even more  room in the barn for the mothers who were calving to be able to have their babies in a safe environment.

We were so glad to have cousin Andrew with us this year and he and Gustav got busy putting the pen together and filling it with a
 deep straw bed
for warmth and comfort.
(That would be the Plaza Suite in the annex...pretty cushy.)

Then it was only to move the heifers out...
Lycka till!
("Good luck" in Swedish)

Gustav and Andy surveyed the situation then Pappa and Gustav worked on getting the first heifer haltered up,

but did she want to go?
Not on your life.
(Check out Gustav hauling with all his might while Andy and Pappa push).

Then there was this one who actually allowed herself to be coaxed into following the tractor out to the pen....

unlike her half sister who fought it tooth and nail
all the way.

But finally with a lot of pushing and pulling
they managed it,

 and all were safely in!

Our Grandpa Stevenson always loved to travel,
 and he absolutely loved hotels.
He used to say that one of the biggest factors in the success of any hotel was it's dining room. 
He felt that anyone could offer a clean bed and a shower, but the hotel that offered extraordinary cuisine would always get the customers.

With that premise in mind,
 no description of calving season would be complete,
  without telling you about

When a new calf is born
 the first feeding of the mother's milk always goes to the calf.
 After that it drinks freely from it's mother but no calf could ever consume all that is available in the post-partum udder.
So when the second milking after the birth produces a colostrum-rich liquid called
(in Swedish)
it is collected in a milking can.
Even with the new baby all fed, a mother can give six to seven liters of råmjölk.

Mixed only with a tiny bit of sugar, a small stick of cinnamon, and a pinch of salt,
 it is baked in a bain-marie,
 giving a pudding that is rich and smooth and delicious.
 It jiggles when you move the baking dish, something like a little calf dancing, hence the name.

I have come to believe that the calfing experience is like that beautiful pudding.
There are moments of sweetness and moments of spice/sadness.
You love to see the miracle of birth and the love of the mothers for their young, but sometimes you have the sting of losing  a mother or a baby in the process.

When it is all accomplished however, and all the babies have been born,
there is a feeling of contentment and fulfillment,
much like the taste of the kalvdans.

We aren't done yet, but we are close.
As of this writing two more have come
meaning there are only four more to be born now.
Soon our "Bovine Biltmore" will be full for another year,

 and so will our hearts.