I’ve been separating Rocky the steer calf at night and milking Katika at morning chores. This morning, when I opened the barn door to let Katika in, Charlie the bull barrelled in after her. He raced past his open door and his pan of grain to throw himself on Katika in her milking stanchion, making desperate noises in his throat.
Yes, she’s in heat again. It’s been hard for me to tell what’s going on. She obviously did not settle (become pregnant) when she was bred August 4. Yet Charlie began moaning again September 4, 31 days later, not 21 days as in a typical cycle — and he’s moaned and chased her on and off ever since. I began to wonder if he was just an insatiable teenager. Leon wonders if Katika might be cystic. Either way, whenever I’ve had to be around Charlie in this mood of heightened enthusiasm, I have walked carefully and carried a big stick.
This morning as the cattle caromed off the stanchion and barn walls, I decided that getting between even a small bull and his lady love would be unwise. Milking was off the agenda. I enticed Katika out of the barn (Charlie in hot pursuit) and let Rocky out to empty her bag.
All morning Katika played Keep Away with Charlie. Same old shenanigans. Charlie desperately moaning. Katika pivoting around the hay pile, keeping her hindquarters safely away from his full-body lunges.
By lunch time she was still avoiding his attentions, but every once in a while (now out of her mind with hormones) she would turn the tables and mount him. Charlie is a smaller than average bull and he appeared in danger of being crushed. He was definitely confused. At least I could now be sure this was a real heat in Katika and not simply prolonged teenaged excitement in Charlie. I kept my eye on them. Charlie goes to the butcher on Wednesday; I made the appointment in January and can’t change the date. This would be our last opportunity for a spring calf.
It poured rain all afternoon. At 3 PM, after all the hours of coyness, dancing, pivoting, and scurrying, Katika finally entered “standing heat” and stood to be bred. Watching through the downpour, I saw her bred half a dozen times. Or at least I saw Charlie attempt it. I was too far away to see if he was successful in reaching her. For some reason, this smaller-than-average bull seemed always to attempt it with Katika uphill and even taller.
“Turn around, Katika,” I beamed to her telepathically. “Give the guy a break!”
She didn’t. In fact, after all the drama of her courtship, the actual sex act itself seemed to leave her utterly unmoved. She chewed her cud, barely blinking. Gosh, is something happening at my other end? Her expression was positively bovine.