Friday morning I got up and finished the barn chores early. Time to take Stormy to his new home a little West from here. I was unsure of how Bonnie would react to this change. Losing her first born calf. Her only bovine companion. For the last few weeks Stormy has been living separately from Bonnie. She and Dizzy have had the field and half of the barn, he has had the backyard and the other half of the barn. I have been hoping that Bonnie and Dizzy would bond and that weaning gradually would be easier on Stormy. Until he left I gave him half of each milking. I’ll admit to another motive for weaning. I wanted some cream and as long as he was nursing she was holding it up for him!
So Friday morning I easily put Stormy into the trailer. Bonnie realized right away that something was amiss. She bellowed loudly and ran to the pasture, angling herself for a full view of the trailer. She mooed, “NOOOOOO!!!!” At least four times she yelled this deep heart-wrenching “Noooo!” Then she ran back to the barn and mooed again. She tried looking out the doors but couldn’t see anything so she bolted back to the field. “Mooooooo!!”
Stormy didn’t answer, he as he was busy eating the hay and a little grain I had put down for him. Bonnie didn’t stop calling him so he finally answered. “Blahhh.” Then we drove off.
I stopped a few miles down the road to fill up the tank and check Stormy. He was laying down and chewing his cud. I worried about poor Bonnie back at the house.
Less than four hours later I returned. I had hoped to drive further and pick up the last bull’s meat at the butcher but decided not to, driving an empty trailer an extra hour and half seemed unnecessary. When I came into the barnyard there was Bonnie laying in the field. She was laying right in the sun. She never lays in the sun, there are noticeably less flies in the shade. I watched from a distance at first. Her tail was swishing and she had her chin tucked low. Flies were definitely bothering her. When I came in close I could see tons of flies on her. She got up and followed me into the barn. She had not eaten the hay I’d put in the field nor the hay I had put in the barn. I freshened the hay and got out the brush. I began brushing her, starting at her tailhead and working towards her ears. She began to eat. I brushed her for a good half hour. Then Dizzy came and stood next her and they ate together. Good.
At evening milk she seemed fine. Until her second let-down. She looked around for her calf and began to moo softly. I’ve always kept Stormy clipped near her head so she could lick him while I was milking her, this time I held out my hand to her. She gave me a thorough cleaning. When I unclipped her she promptly went to the spot where he has been bedding down. She sniffed it carefully, mooed again and walked away.
She hasn’t looked for him or called for him again. Not until tonight did she need to lick again mid-milking. This time she quickly turned and licked my head.
Nor has she plopped herself down in the sun as one big fly attraction.
She and Dizzy are doing really well together. Yesterday we were in the barn showing the animals to visitors and Dizzy was grooming Bonnie’s head. Horses don’t lick, they nibble. Bonnie was thoroughly enjoying her head massage. Cows are herd animals, so it makes me happy to feel that the two of them have created their own version of a herd out there.