Monday, August 1, 2011

Chicken Sunday

We had heavy thunderstorms all afternoon and evening. The next morning the sun rose bright and every color seemed more intense. It was humid, but the flowers all seemed more brilliant and cheerful than usual. Maybe that is what ‘woke up’ the chickens. All summer they have had their little doors open, but chose to remain in their quarters. Not today. Today, even the meaties are playing on the lawn on the opposite side of the house. They are basking in the sun and playing in the raspberry bed. The ‘big uns’ are parading all around the back yard and the ‘little uns’ are darting hither and yon in search of bugs. They even entered the ‘big un’s’ pen and tried out all their roosts. It is as if they were all injected with joy. I have dubbed it “Chicken Sunday”. It is also my sister’s birthday.

Not all went so smoothly.
Dolly went into this calving looking better than she has ever looked before.
Everything was going swimmingly until we had to graft leppies on both cows to share-milk while we went to town. We would let Dolly’s own calf nurse, along with a foster heifer, then bring Moose in to clean up what was left as she was producing more than the calves could handle.

Suddenly, she started losing weight. I had been separating the all calves overnight, but Dolly would come in the morning with a nearly empty bag. I was beginning to worry about her calf getting enough to survive. I removed the foster calves.
We thought maybe she was grieving her calf, as she spent a lot of time at the fence mooing to him, so we turned him back out with her. I wanted to milk Emma, so I kept her in. Dolly looked immediately better that evening, and even had some milk in her bag. I turned both Jersey calves out with her so I could milk Emma in the morning. Emma cried and carried on. I was mad because it looked like SHE was getting too attached to her calf and it was going to cause me problems.

I turned both cows out for two days and Dolly has continued to drop off weight and has gone back to an empty bag. Emma’s bag never seems to be very empty, but she isn’t letting down for me. Dolly is starting to scare me.
I keep upping her feed and supplementing the almost 40 acres of pasture with more and more alfalfa, but she continued to get thinner and thinner at a rapid rate.
Emma looked fine. I began to panic thinking maybe Dolly had Johnes. Every horrible scenerio ran through my head. What could make my cow go from looking great to skin and bones in two weeks??

Tonight the mystery was solved.
I brought the girls in to feed them, then turned them out with their calves. They were all standing in the orchard and I could see Dolly licking her calf while he nursed, but something didn’t look right. I walked through the muck and mud and found out EXACTLY why Dolly looks so poor, and Emma has a tight bag.

There nursing Dolly, was her calf, “Mo”, Emma’s calf “CWilly” …



  1. What? Holy cow! I don't think I've ever heard of this before - poor Dolly! This should be interesting....keep us tuned in.

  2. Needless to say, I am NOT a happy camper! I am still trying to figure out how to solve this!

  3. Poor Dolly - she's trying to feed TOO many generations. I hope separating them will help Dolly fatten back up again. Keep us posted.

  4. Do you butcher your own meat chickens or have them processed somewhere?

  5. This is the first year we've raised them. We're having them processed next trip to town. Once we see if we like them or not, we'll probably set up to do our own next time.