Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | June 24, 2008

The Trouble with Mama Cows.

I have heard that if you have a house full of girls there is often much drama to be had.  I don’t know about a house of girls at this point but I do know about a cow yard and mama cows.  I wouldn’t have figured that drama would be a part of the deal when we got a second mama cow but I unfortunately was mistaken.

A reminder of our mama cow history. 

You remember Corrine.  We brought Corrine to our simple little farm last spring.  She had recently had a baby calf that was taken away from her … the cruel world of dairy farming … and she had some heath issues that made her too much work for a working dairy farm.  We took her on as a small project and figured that we could heal her up and use her to raise a couple of calves that spring and keep her to produce a new calf each year.  We purchased two brand new calves for her … they were each under 24 hours old when we brought them home. 


Charlie & Caleb spring 2007


It turned out the Corrine only liked Caleb which left Charlie a bit out of the loop and he soon became our bottle fed calf. 

We all survived the summer and both Charlie and Caleb have grown into fine young steers.  This fall we had Corrine bred and waited 9 long months to see what she would have!  You will recall that she brought cute little Cooper into our farm world.

Even though Corrine has had some health issues and still does, she likes Cooper … which is a good thing.  The trouble came when Bessie decided to like Cooper too.

We brought Bessie to the farm this spring.  It was a similar situation with her as with Corrine.  She was on a dairy farm, had a calf, got sick, they called us and said “we have a great cow if you want her”.  We are going to think twice before we take another free cow.  You know how they say there is no such thing as a free lunch?, yeah … same principle applies to a cow. 

Bessie also had a calf that was taken away from her.  When we got her we bought her a calf.  The whole “Surprise!, you have a baby calf!” didn’t go so well for her.  It had been about 3 weeks since she freshened and was well aware that it wasn’t her calf … especially since she had a girl that was black and white.  We gave her Bentley who is a boy and pretty much brown, but he sure is a cutie. 

Fortunately, Bessie slowly warmed up to him and they seemed to like each other … until that cute baby Cooper came to the farm that is. 

Trouble is … Bessie loves baby calves.  It appears that Bentley was too old for her when we got him, but he was the youngest we could find at 3 weeks old.  The neighbors that blessed us with these two cows sorta chuckle when we tell them the saga because apparently Bessie always tries to steal baby calves from their mama’s.  I wonder is she were a human if she would be one of those crazy ladies that steals babies from the grocery store. 

As a result of the possible kidnapping of poor Cooper and the sanity of Corrine, Loren has been keeping them separate.  He first tried to separate them by having them in paddock’s side by side in the pasture.  That didn’t work because Bessie would still be inches away from Corrine and Cooper, eagerly awaiting Cooper to become hers.  So then Loren tried putting them across the driveway from each other.  That didn’t work well either because Bessie would pace back and forth to keep an eye on Cooper and yell for him to come to her side of the driveway.  I honestly think that it stressed the little guy out to be caught in the middle of two mama cows.  If Corrine and Cooper became out of sight Bessie would yell and yell.   It has been quite a pain to keep them separate.  Bessie probably has enough milk to feed both calves but we still have Corrine and really, Cooper is hers by all rights and Bessie has Bentley.  All seems fair to this new farm girl. 

This wouldn’t be such a problem is Bessie would look lovingly from afar at her beloved Cooper and just dream of being his Mom but no, she has a different plan.  Her plan is to completely ignore her own calf and pace back and forth and yell and yell that life isn’t fair.  It can be a bit much and I fear that someday a neighbor will call and complain about the yelling cows.  

Thankfully, Bentley is persistent enough to make Bessie feed him.  He will follow her wherever he needs to go to drink.  It helps that Corrine and Cooper stop occasionally to give Bessie a break from pacing.  So Bentley is growing very well, but unfortunately all he gets is the milk, no maternal attention with cleanings or kisses, just milk which will keep him alive at least. 

The solution to all this?  Well, in a last ditch effort to save him tons of chore time everyday, Loren thought that he could just let them figure it out amongst themselves.  So last week he put them in the same pen and went to work.  That turned out not to be such a great idea.  Between the belloring and yelling Bessie followed Cooper who was following Corrine the entire time.  Both Mama’s bantered back and forth as much as cows can.  Cooper was pretty confused by all this and I couldn’t blame him … he was a calf with two mom’s … not really how nature intended it.  After what seemed like hours (cause it was!) Loren came home and separated them once again.

Corrine was mad because Bessie was following her calf and calling for him and Bessie was mad because Cooper is not her calf.  Strange stuff I tell ya.  The one good thing was that Bentley and Cooper got to play … well, inbetween the yelling mom’s that is.  Since that night they have been more seperate then usual … one is in the cow yard and barn and one is outside.  Loren alternates who gets to be where.  It appears that if Bessie doesn’t see Cooper she is better and she will even feed Bentley so that is the best way to handle it now.  The negative to that is that one cow and baby don’t get fresh grass that they need.  But under the circumstances it is the best plan until there is a better one.   

It’s unfortunate that they must be kept apart because the calves love each other like brothers.   Which would make Bessie happy … if she was the mother of both of them that is.  Today Loren had both “families” outside separated by the driveway and several feet on each side and the babies had had enough and broke free to be together.  They ran and ran all around the farm with Corrine yelling for them to get back until Loren managed to get them back safe and sound.   Bessie and Bentley were then back in the cow yard and barn for yet another day and Corrine and Cooper are outside.   Corrine needs the fresh grass more then Bessie right now because she is still a bit unhealthy. 

Trouble with cows.  I never would have guessed it.  That little Cooper is at the root of it all … and even I have to admit that with a face like this, what’s a mother … or two! … not to love!?




  1. Those are the cutest calves I think I’ve ever seen. This was a great read, thank you!

  2. Cooper is a little doll! He looks like velvet and he has a face like a fawn. I thoroughly enjoyed your story and I laughed out loud when you compared Bessie to the women who steal babies from grocery stores. :) I loved the photos too. All in all, this one was a work of art!

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