Mr August

Not Farmer Humph, but this handsome beast!Angus bullock Lower Dairy Farm

The bullocks have left the Marsh and are now roaming the Popple Field beside the house.

This year's new intake are already begging for apples; a new record for Mum's training regime.  First thing in the morning, it can be alarming when you've forgotten they were in the field and a giant bullock suddenly looms over the hedge.  Other fun occupations in the life of a bullock (and life on the farm is never dull!) include chasing chickens, staring out Humbug, and escorting walkers along the roadside - such gentlemen!

Obviously, staring in an unimpressed fashion at the activity around the house and farm shop is another favourite.  As we haul bales back from the village, there's lots to keep them (and us) occupied.  It was nearly Mercator time in our last blog post...but several cloud bursts later have bought a little time.  Humbug is just going to have to toughen up and walk through the barley, and Dad can be found polishing the Mercator before the Mighty Beast is called to action.

Baling by Pitchbury Wood

Triple 'B'

Every mother appreciates an audience when giving birth....but learning the facts of life can be a little much for the weak of heart.In the past week, the youngsters have learnt a lot as three calves joined the herd.  First to arrive, Bathsheba:

Followed by a Mother's Day surprise with unusual ears:It being the year of 'B', we couldn't name her 'Foxy' or 'Photoshop Gone Wrong'.  Fortunately, Blossom  was the name picked using our random number generator (...Humph picking a number between 1 and 13.  Took several attempts and explanation that 14 was not a valid choice).  Congratulations to Lesley Parkins and Douglas Fryer for a very apt name!

And finally, a first-time calf for a giant heifer:

We welcome Betsy to the world!  A good, strong name for a sizeable calf, suggested by Sue Fuller.  Betsy, born in a snowstorm, has decided that she will only sit in patches of snow.

More calves to worry Farmer Humph at the end of March!

1 + 1 =

Two calves this morning.  Yes, that is how efficient we are (she said, laughing).  Nothing like simultaneous calving - on opposite sides of the field of course, to start the day right. First, Caribou (left), produced a non-reindeer-esque heifer calf.

Closely followed by Tepi, who very kindly allowed us time for breakfast, before producing the latest member of the Carpet Dynasty, and nephew to the lovely Axminster.

Good haul for a morning!

And also, a wake-up call. This is what happens when a calf sees my appearance first thing in the morning...








The horror.

Two Calf Mondays

Why stop at one when you can have...

A daytime miracle...

and a starlight marsupial fright...

Cute now, but when it was born, it looked more like an opossum.

And that's not what you want to be faced with on a dark night.

Any name suggestions (starting with the letter 'A') for these two lovely bull calves?   Starlight calvings reduce creativity, and you should do it for the animals...otherwise, I will name the latter Apossum.

The humble calving jack

There is a Facebook group called "God bless the man who invented the calving jack".  This simple device - literally to jack a difficult calf out, was invented by a farmer and is the single greatest aid to calving in the world.  After last night, I may have to start the campaign for a knighthood.

 Two huge calves born last night. The first, calved all on her own, a Hereford heifer calf every bit as adorable as her mother was as a calf.

The other, an upside-down, back-to-front bull calf from a Psycho Daisy May of a cow.

Fortunately, with our trusty calving jack at our side, after attempts at calving in the field, in the box, in the yard, sitting down, standing up, the calf was born alive - at which point Psycho Daisy May lost the psycho element and became a fantastic mother.

Success was not down to the calving jack alone.  Without the VERY patient phone assistance of the best vet in the universe, Helen ('Supervet') and Champion Calver Stuart ('DairyStar'? - or equivalent masculine superhero name) we'd probably still be out there.  Go Team Taylor!

The farm is lucky enough to have an excellent calving record. Over the past thirty years, there have been few truly challenging calvings like this one, and we have lost only a handful of calves.  Most of this is down to luck, but the advantage of the Hereford-Angus cross are the small calves, increasing the chances of an easy calving - better for the cow and for the farmer.  Prior to calving, Dad is out at all times of the day and night checking the herd.  It's always frustrating when a calving doesn't go to plan, but worth the effort once the calf is out.  And such excitement is character building...

So, thank you inventor of the calving jack, and thank you SuperVet and DairyStar.  Massively indebted to you.   Here's hoping the calves turn out like our friendly giant 'Thistle'...