Monday, March 23, 2015

The Red Poll Girls As The Snow Begins To Melt

It was an unusually harsh winter and we'd all hoped for an easy spring. Alas, winter has been abating incrementally, with a small snow melt followed by another snowfall - a 35 degree day followed by a night of 0 degrees. But the Red Poll girls have been accepting it all and looking good. This is Violet:

And this, as I'd recognize in a flash, is Jasmine - she of the half closed eyes and expressive face. Jasmine is also quite a friendly cow:

And this is Amy. She arrived here stunted and skinny, with a head too small for her body. She's added perhaps a foot to her height and filled out sideways as well. Her head has grown to a normal size and she is due to be the first cow to calve this spring, due about May 25th:

Only Scarlett, standing on the left, has not gained much weight. The reason for that, however, is obvious - she's been nursing that bottomless pit of a calf lying behind her:

The girls spent most of the winter huddled on the east side of the barn where I put their hay. But whenever the snow melts down a bit, they begin to explore the surrounding field. I am sure the first green blades of grass will not go unnoticed:

This hay bale was frozen right through to its core, which is why the bale feeder was not used. That's it, standing on its side in the background:

Rosella is a big girl now, but not quite big enough to reach over the bars and down to the floor for her grain. So I put her bowl in the top of a bucket to lift it off the floor. Rosella has gotten quite tame when eating (not so much otherwise), and I should put a collar on her soon - sometime while she's eating, of course:

I consider it a good sign that the snow and ice doesn't melt off the cows' backs. That means that their hair is insulating them well and not allowing much body heat to escape:

When the hay in a new bale is not frozen, I drop the bale feeder over to prevent the girls from wasting the hay by standing, sleeping and pooping on it. Trying to drop that big, heavy steel ring over a 5 foot hay bale while the cows are pressing in to eat the new hay is quite a trick. I don't want to drop it on their heads and they are not afraid of it - or of me:

There's Rosella, taking a nap while her food digests:

I often climb inside the bale feeder to grab armloads of hay to use as bedding inside the barn. The cows don't mind me at all and just continue eating:

And that's especially true of Jasmine, who sees nothing alarming at all about me scrambling around in her dinner:

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