A new calf is born on the farm

  • Ryder, a Scottish Highlander calf, with her watchful mother, Laverne. Carole Soule / For the Monitor

For the Monitor
Friday, August 04, 2017

The Scottish Highlander calf showed up Sunday morning about 6 a.m. I found her an hour later already on her feet. Even at 7 a.m., it was hot and flies were buzzing around the still-wet calf.

To avoid fly strike we carried the baby, with mother cow following, to the holding pen where it was cooler and almost fly-free. Flies are abundant in the grassy fields but not so much in dirt paddocks and the holding pen.

Wet babies are the usual victims of a condition called fly strike. The larvae from flies will eat dead skin, creating more dead skin until the calf is overwhelmed with maggots and dies. Death like this is ugly and can happen in hours so it is critical to keep summer calves fly-free. Calves born in cooler weather are safe.

An AirBNB guest who was staying with us the day she was born named the calf, “Ryder.” The calf had a name and was now safe from fly strike but then my next fear kicked in: Was she nursing?

Ryder was skinny, very skinny and her mother’s teats were huge. Large teats can be hard for newborns to grab hold of making nursing difficult if not impossible. The rule is 2-2-2 – two hours to be born, two hours to stand and two hours to nurse. Worried that she hadn’t been nursing, I milked Laverne and syringe fed the rich sweet colostrum milk to Ryder.

I only had to do that once. Ryder is nursing now and charging around the pen; a happy, healthy little girl and is just as gentle and sweet as her three older brothers.

Who knows, she might become even more famous than her oldest brother, Curious Bleu who is the star of a children’s book, The Curious Little Calf Named Bleu

Bleu, now five-years-old, ran off into the woods when he was just a day old and lived to share his story with me. Bleu had a short career as a working steer and is now one of our “riding steers.”

Ryder might become famous, but for now, she is happy running circles around her mom, nursing and nuzzling farm visitors. You are welcome to visit Ryder, Laverne, and Bleu here at Miles Smith Farm. They are a moo-velous family.

(Carole Soule is co-owner of Miles Smith Farm in Loudon, where she raises and sells beef, pork, lamb, eggs and other local products. She can be reached at cas@milessmithfarm.com.)