I was on the road most of the day yesterday. When I arrived home at 8 PM I fully expected to find a calf. Moxie just looked at me. Not yet!
I debated what to do. That morning Moxie was limping badly on her right back leg. Elsa, my heifer, had been bellowing on and off for twelve hours and had been jumping on Mel, the bull, and sniffing excitedly at Moxie. It wasn’t clear to me if Elsa was intoxicated by hormones in the air from an impending birth, or from heat. (I have suspected for months that Elsa was not in calf, and when in May she stood to be clumsily bred by 9-month Mel, it was confirmed.)
Either way, it was clear that someone had mounted Moxie in her heavily pregnant state and she was not enjoying the attentions of either of the Tedious Teens. She had been happy to limp down the aisle, bag swaying, and come into her stall for the day. Privacy!
Now a part of me wanted to keep Moxie safe in the barn overnight. There were two problems. One: if I separated them, all the cattle were likely to bellow for each other through the dark hours. My neighbors wouldn’t appreciate that. The other was though I provide water and hay in each stall through the summer, the hay is ignored. The cattle prefer to wait for grass when they are turned out. If I kept Moxie in, I’d have to keep them all in, and they wouldn’t eat. While I wasn’t concerned for Mel or Elsa, fasting couldn’t be good for an older cow about to give birth and already at risk for a metabolic disorder. So, I turned them out.
Here are Moxie and Mel drinking some cool fresh water from the refilling trough as dark began to fall. Minutes later Moxie was cropping grass. I’m about to head down to check everyone this morning.