Dusk was falling and it had started to sleet yesterday when I looked out in the north pasture and saw little Moxie gamely nursing not only her own calf, Stewart, but Henry, the foster calf, and Katika’s calf, Dorrie, as well.
Moxie is my rescue heifer. I found her on Craigslist exactly two years ago for $5. She came to me at fifteen months stunted to the size of a five-month calf. Here is her story. My vet David had reassured me that cows possessed amazing powers of recuperation and she would probably grow normally once given good nutrition. This has proved correct. Moxie now is three years old and though still on the small side, she is within the bounds of normal for a Jersey cow. In the coming week I will measure her height and tape her weight.
I am aware I haven’t told the stories of any of these calves and will try to do so soon.
In the meantime I am tickled. Ever since I followed the farming adventures of my internet friend Midge in New Zealand years ago, I have dreamed of having a nurse cow. A nurse cow is one so maternal she will contentedly suckle any foster calves she is given — known in New Zealand as “bobby calves” that have been “mothered on.”
It seems I might have myself a nurse cow!
Since at calving I found that Moxie’s teats were impossibly short for hand-milking, raising steer calves would be a way for her to earn her keep and ensure her a long and happy future on the farm. This would be a lucky thing for Moxie and for me.
I am pleased and hopeful.