5.09.2013

Mama Bella and baby Annabelle

I posted this photo to my Instagram account last night. From left to right we have Bella, Nick, and Annabelle. Bella was given to us by the farm we worked at in North Carolina. At just a couple days old a fellow farmhand had found her in the pasture amongst a herd of several hundred head. She had been discarded by her mama and was dying of pneumonia. He brought her back to the barn behind our house and Nick and I fed her and babied her and nursed her back to health. This is her back in December of 2010 when we were still bottle feeding her.
I think the owner of the herd assumed she would die, so he accepted our deal that if we could save her we could keep her. She is a Rotokawa Devon whose allure lies in their history of being 100% grass fed. We wouldn't have been able to afford one if we hadn't rescued her. Bella lived in our backyard for the rest of the year and was soon joined by our sweet beloved house piglet Rose.

She suffered many health problems through that first year. She was in constant danger of pneumonia. We built her the most pathetic! wind structure in the backyard out of scrap wood to keep her dry from the occasional Carolina winter storm. She decided on her own it was more of a risk to sleep under it than to sleep outdoors (good decision, one wind storm destroyed it).  I made her a calf coat out of a large Woolrich padded jacket I found in the men's department of Goodwill. We made her wear it during several ice storms and I think it actually saved her life a couple times. She grew slowly. But she was always a total sweetheart. Nick worked every day training her to a halter and then a lead and then to come when called.  Last summer we finally thought Bella was big enough to breed and healthy enough to calve. We had our doubts. Many warned us she would likely be infertile due to her late and unhealthy start in life.

We've wondered all year if she was bred. She's a beef cow and they are much, well, beefier looking than dairy cows. Bella has appeared sort of fat for over a year now. We had no idea if there was a baby in there or not. You can have a vet come and do pregnancy checks at your farm, but for a herd of four mamas that didn't make much financial sense.

Last Thursday our first beef mama calved. A little bull calf, in the late afternoon. We assumed the other beef mama would come next and then Winnie (our milk cow). We assumed Bella wasn't bred and wasn't going to calve. We talked about giving her one more year, one more chance. We talked about how we would probably need to slaughter her next year if she didn't produce any babies. An animal that size is a big animal to feed and not get milk or calves or beef in return.  But yesterday after Nick came home from working on the tractor he checked the barnyard to see if Winnie was in labor. She wasn't but our sweet Bella girl was licking a wet little heifer calf. She was just starting to pass the afterbirth. He must have missed the birth by minutes.

It gives us such pride to see this calf. To see years of our farm work come to fruition in this one baby girl named Annabelle. This week marks the first week in which we have had babies born on our farm that weren't chicks or ducklings. We have worked with piglets and lambs and calves and kids for several years now. We have bought and adopted many cows, sheep, goats, and pigs.  But the bull calf born Thursday and Annabelle born last night mark the true beginning of our own herd. This gives us great pride.

16 comments:

  1. This story just made a person who is 3,000 miles away smile and think how charming life can be. Thank you.

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  2. very exciting. congratulations, bella!

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  3. such a sweet story. congrats to you and your herd!

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  4. Great pride, indeed. Congratulations!

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  5. A brilliant story, you saved her life and she gives you more life, totally how it should be on a happy farm.

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  6. Congratulations - loved the story of Bella and Annabelle and that little Rose is adorable. You have a lovely way with words and the photos are beautiful.

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  7. you know you're a midwife when...

    even that birth story makes you cry!

    Congratulations to Bella! and congratulations to you guys too! that is SO exciting and wonderful!

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  8. Congratulations! You guys have every reason to feel proud as hell! Give that baby a smootch for me!

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  9. beautiful !!!

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  10. this is a beautiful post~

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  11. oh, how lovely! (ps. that photo of you in a pretty dress with the cows is the best.)

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  12. This was very pretty. Thank you!

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  13. Congratulations!! That is amazing. I've started a little vegetable garden on my back porch and was surprised at the amount of pride when my seeds sprouted and the zucchini mature every day. I cannot imagine the joy of live animals!

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