There are a ton of things happening on the farm each and every day. I have but only scratched the surface on most of our trials, tribulations and successes.
For instance, as I sit at my desk, writing this column, the milk truck is pulling up to our milk house to pick up more than 10,000 pounds of milk. Happens every day, but I haven't really explained what he does.
But I digress from my original plan for this column.
I wanted to explain one task that happens infrequently on our farm, but none the less it gets done once or twice a year.
We have to keep our Jersey cows properly identified. The Jerseys are the cute cows that, as babies, have fluffy brown hair and big brown eyes that rival Bambi. I should mention that six or seven years ago we started our small Jersey herd with just two purchased animals. We have since purchased more and had girl calves born so that we now own 16 Jerseys! Our herdsman Zach owns one, so there are 17 awesome Jerseys on our farm. (OK, Steve has 130 Holsteins too.)
Because the Jerseys are our show animals, we try to make sure they are properly identified. Our Jersey cows are what is referred to as registered. I see no glory in owning a registered herd. The only thing different, is that each Jersey has a piece of paper in a red binder with her family lineage explained.
There are plenty of Holsteins on our farm that are very nice looking animals that are not "registered" and don't have pieces of paper in a binder.
When I purchased my first two Jersey cows, Pinky and April, I promised the previous owner I would continue to register each subsequent animal, and I have kept my promise. I am sure the lady at the American Jersey Cattle Association cringes every time the caller ID says "Hoffman, Steve and Kerry."
I always have odd little questions for her.
Again I digress.
Last week Friday Zack and I decided it was time to give our Jerseys their permanent tattoos. No, we don't get all artsy-fartsy. We just clean their ears and give an identifying number and letter. Some tattoos read "Joe" or "Russ" followed by a number. The name identifies the owner and the number identifies the order of ownership. So, for example, "Joe1" means it's Joey's cow and it's the first one he owned on his own.
Since assembling names in the tattoo pliers is a pain in the patootie, I have since switched to just numbering the cows. I can do that because I have the registration papers that tell me who the lovely animal belongs to. So, I guess there is one plus to registration.
Anyway, Zack and I rounded up all the adorable Jerseys and penned them in our calving barn so they would be easy to catch in a head lock.
Well, we thought they would be easy to catch.
Moolatte, who is just confirmed pregnant, slipped right through the headlock and casually walked right out the front door of the barn. All Zack and I could do was laugh. We were in the pen and Moo was out wandering the farm yard.
Thankfully, my niece Heidi had Moo, trained so well, that she didn't try to run away but was content to munch on some really short green weeds.
She was a cinch to lead back into the pen and into the headlock again. I then cleaned all the wax out of her ears with rubbing alcohol. Zack did the tattooing. (I wasn't going to let the cows think I caused them pain. They love me and I don't want that to change.)
In all we tattooed six cows that day. Zack's hands were stained black; mine were not and my manicure looks as good as it did two weeks ago. Thank goodness for rubber milking gloves.
It is a fairly painless procedure for the cows. I would imagine it's like getting a tattoo tolerable, short-lived pain.
It's probably a good thing we only do this chore once in a cow's life, it probably isn't a fond memory for her, but being an immaculate Jersey means they have to have immaculate tattoos.
For questions, or comments, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.