He’s Our Buddy!

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I think it’s time to write about Buddy.  Sometimes I find it hard to write about our cows and our little farm because it is such a small scale farm and despite the fact that I grew up with generations of cattle ranching in my blood, I still feel that I really don’t know anything about cows!  And sometimes writing about things on the farm are emotionally hard.  But what I do know is what my heart tells me!  And so I’d like to introduce you to Buddy!

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Buddy bonding with Belle! 

Buddy is a twin that was born on our farm this spring.  Most of us would think that having twin calves is a great thing (a two for one deal right?) and we’d be jumping for joy.  I remember the first time we had twins born on the farm and I called with excitement to tell my Dad and I was so shocked when he said “Well that can sometimes be a bad thing”.

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So before we get too deep in the story of Buddy, I’ll tell you very quickly why having twin calves can be a bad thing!

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First of all, there’s the subject of milk.  A Momma cow has what is called Colostrum in her milk and it is the most important thing for a calf to get within the first few hours of it’s birth.  It is the “first milk” that is often referred to as Liquid Gold!  If a calf gets the colostrum within the first hour of it’s birth it greatly increases the chances that a newborn calf will not just live, but thrive.  With twins it is very questionable on whether both of the babies received that colostrum.  Chances are pretty good that only one received it.  And as a result one of the twins will be weaker and not as likely to live.

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The next negative thing is whether or not the momma cow has enough milk for both babies.  If she is an older cow (which was true with Buddy’s Momma) then she might already be starting out a bit on the lean side and providing milk for two babies just might not be possible.

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There is also a great possibility that one of the twins will be sterile.  If the twins are female and male; then the female is called a Freemartin and 90% of the time she will be sterile.  There is a very complicated explanation for this (to me anyway!) but you can do a google search on it and read all kinds of interesting articles!  One thing I do know is that it’s not desirable.

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And the last thing, and really the saddest for me, is that if one of the calves is a weaker one then the Momma will likely abandon that baby.  And if you’re not monitoring the situation closely, you can very quickly lose that calf.

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So now that we know all the negative things about twins, let me tell you about Buddy!

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Buddy was born to Old Red.  Personally she’s my favorite cow on the farm.  She comes running when she’s called, she’s always the most interested in what is going on around the farm (hanging out to watch us when we’re working in the flower garden!), and she’s a very good Momma.  But this spring she had twins.  We experienced twins born on the farm to another cow about 6 years ago, so we were prepared for what to expect.  We watched her closely for the first 24 hours and at the very first sign that she was actively nursing one baby and ignoring the other one, we charged in and kidnapped the abandoned baby!

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We put him in the little barn on the hill by our house and I went to work trying to get him to take a bottle of colostrum.  If you’ve ever had to give a newborn calf a bottle for the first time, then you know it is honestly the most frustrating thing to get them to suck.  Sometimes it takes hours and hours.  I tried every trick I could find online.  I called my Mom and tried her tip; “Put a cloth in milk and see if he’ll suck that”.  I messaged my friend Kim and got her advice, which was; “Don’t give up, he’ll get it eventually.  I’ll come help you tonight if he hasn’t sucked by then”.  I cried.  I begged; “Come on little buddy you can do it”.  Every hour I’d go back to the barn and try again.  Finally that night I had success!  And you can’t believe how excited I was!!

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The amazing thing is this:  all they have to do is suck that big rubber nipple once and you are good to go!  By the next morning that little guy was sucking his bottle in 3 minutes!  (Yes, I timed it!)  My grand-girls came up every day to give him a bottle, put his halter on and teach him to lead.

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The bond he developed with the girls was precious.  One afternoon I realized that Jillian had been out with him for a couple hours and when I went to check on her, this is what I found!  She and Buddy… sound asleep in the warm spring sunshine!

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Buddy grew and thrived.  He got to the point where he could suck his bottle in under two minutes.  He began eating his grain.  When we let him out everyday for a few hours he was grazing.  It was time to graduate Buddy to life with the herd.

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Buddy thinks the yard is his home too!

He is now three months old and we’ve turned him out with the rest of the cows full time.  He comes up every morning and every evening for his bottle and then he slowly makes his way back to the herd!

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Sharing Buddy with friends!

The hard facts are this.  Buddy will not always be our sweet little Buddy.  He will grow, get big and then we will sell him at auction.  This is hard on all of us.  Before we ever let our grand-girls give him that first full bottle we made sure they knew and understood the purpose of Buddy’s life.  They’ve grown up around the cows and we’ve never deceived them about where the steers go!  This is no different for Buddy.

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Buddy can guzzle his bottle in a minute now!

People have asked us why we can’t just keep him as a pet?  The answer is that a 1000 pound steer doesn’t really make a very safe pet!  Buddy is already to the point where when he sees us around the farm he comes running, knowing we are his source of that warm, sweet milk.  Have you ever watched a darling calf butt its Momma’s teats for milk?  Well… having a fat little calf start butting you for milk isn’t exactly a pleasant experience!  So no… we won’t be keeping Buddy for a pet.

That is the hard honest fact.

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Hiking through the woods and Buddy calf has to get some love!

Our conversation to the girls has been this:  we love our calves and give them the very best food and the very best life possible while they are in our care.  And we have a heart of thankfulness for what we receive in return.  I was so proud when I heard my grand-girls explain to a friend how they will feel when Buddy leaves our farm; so open about how they’ll miss him but so mature about his purpose.   Such precious girls loving and caring for their precious Buddy calf… who is quickly getting very ornery and not so sweet and precious any more!!  The day is quickly coming when the little girls running up the hill to our house may not be very safe with a calf, bigger than them, chasing them up the hill and butting them for milk!

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So now you see why this was a hard story for me to write.  But this is the reality of cattle farming.  In the meantime… we are loving our little Buddy and laughing histerically when he comes running up the hill licking his lips and wagging his tail in eagerness for his bedtime bottle!

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Until our gravel roads cross again… so long.

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Dori

Leave a comment 16 Comments

  1. Cyndie Gray says:

    Sweet thoughts to go with your sweet precious grands!!

  2. Diann says:

    I have had Baaaaell since she was less than eight hours old. Her mama and her twin died in delivering. Every hour and a half around the clock I fed my little lamb and she follows me everywhere. It has been interesting. However my other three ewes were also orphan, so, I guess I’m just a sucker for orphans. The same day I got Baaaell, I took three two week old puppies who’s mama died….see what I mean…sucker.‍♀️

  3. Carol says:

    We had a cow that had twins as well and we lost the male. I tried my best to keep him alive, but could not. I have also had bottle calves recently and let me say they are so cute but so pushy when it comes to their milk. My almost 4 year old granddoll knows the purpose as well.

  4. Brenda Cervantes says:

    This is a sweet story. Honest with the reality of farm life. I understand the bittersweetness of Buddy’s life. But you are enjoying the sweetness and sharing that with the young.

    Thank you

  5. Denise says:

    My Dad and a neighbor raised pigs for a year and I was the one to nurse the ones that got hurt by the mamma. there were two over the course of that summer, one lived and one didn’t make it. the one that made it we named Arnold, very original! but he was a big pet and then he grew and grew. My Dad wouldn’t let us get in his fence but he was still a big baby only REALLY big and could hurt us at that point because of his size. so when Arnold topped 400 lbs he had to go off like all piggies do and it was hard but yet we knew that’s what had to happen. but it is fun to be able to raise an animal like that and see it thrive no matter what happens later on. enjoyed your story!

  6. Julie says:

    This is an amazing story!!!! You are a fabulous writer and you captured my attention! While I know you have very hard work daily, I can’t help but wish I worked on the farm with you!
    Thank you for sharing!

  7. Kathleen Rinta says:

    Oh my how your story hit home! I raise grassfed beef in western Washington just 30 miles south of Mt.St. Helens (the view we have, fantastic!) and had a Hereford cow who had twins 3 yrs. in a row, by different bulls. The first set the heifer was dead, the second set were heifers(score!), the 3rd set, a bull and heifer. Friends raised the heifer and returned her the following year, knowing that being a freemartin her purpose in life was to feed us. They’re lots of work but also so rewarding. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Judi says:

    We raised 3 girls on our farm with 4-H FFA and it was hard to sell them and through no fault of their own at times a tragic end to an animal. But I feel very strong about the facts of life. I couldn’t protect them from hardship. They now r parents and all have pets and continue on loving and caring for their animals. I think it’s made them appreciate how precious it is to care for another “fur being” Made them better human beings

  9. Mary Rauch says:

    How difficult it must have been to find the words (which you did beautifully) to tell this sensitive story of nature and love and being a good steward of your knowledge and experience to the children.. The lessons learned from you will follow them forever. You are a GOOD WOMAN!

  10. Nancy says:

    Hi I love reading about your crafts and flower garden but I am so sad reading this post. Poor buddy thinks he’s a beloved pet only to be sold and butchered. That is a part of farm life that I can do without..

    • Dori Troutman says:

      Awww Nancy,

      I’m sorry to make you sad. It is a very hard, real part of farm life. And even amongst all the hard things, I wouldn’t trade it for anything!

      I promise a crafty, sewing, flower garden post next month! :-)

      ~ Dori ~

  11. Marilyn says:

    This is a sweet story. The bond and caring your granddaughters have for Buddy is precious. It is sad how one twin can be ignored.
    Marilyn

  12. Meredith Williams says:

    Hi Dori!! I have another trick to add to your arsenal of tricks to get bottle calves sucking! With a tough calf, I have found that using a lamb nipple/bottle (with the hole on the end of the nipple made a bit bigger) can sometimes be just the ticket! A small calf ( which as you know, twins can be) sometimes just finds the normal calf nipple a little too big at the beginning. I love your posts and know just how you feel about writing about your farm. Even though we farm full time here in Virginia and have a beef herd of about 170 head, we look like nothing compared to the ranches out west! But even if we are small, we have many of the same kind of experiences with our animals, right?

  13. Sandi King says:

    Hi Dori; Crying, emotional sap, that’s me. All animal’s I have loved and lost, tear my heart out, but I keep having more and more. Two dogs and 5 cats now. I have always from the time I was a small child had pets, from chickens to calves, to dogs and cats, fish and birds. I loved them, doctored them, protected them, some I killed with my doctoring (mom said it was the birds and fish), and I buried them and gave them a funeral. I teared up over Buddy, though I understand the reasoning of his purpose, and I am glad you know how to raise your grandkids to understand about life and death. Enjoying what you can when you can, feeling sad, and going on from there to the next event in life. The circle and cycle, for every joy there is sadness and for every sadness there is joy. Thanks for writing about farm life. We all need that perspective on how things are in life. Until next time, God Bless you and your family.

  14. Cindi J says:

    I LOVE your stories ~ crafty, flowery, full of friends and fun, or emotional real life like this one. Yes, it is sad knowing that a beloved farm animal has a purpose other than being cute and loving to us, but your story is and unpretentious look at what all rancher and farm families experience each and every day. It is good for all of us to remember the cycle of life and respect the teachings that it offers. You are blessed with a very good and full life :)

  15. Kim D. says:

    Hey, I’m that friend!….and he eventually got it! I’m so proud of how he’s doing. You not only saved him, but got him thriving and are also teaching a very valuable lesson to two precious girls.

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