And The Farmily Grows

Daisy had a baby. Oh, how does one start this kind of post?  So much to say!  I have been rather preoccupied for the past two weeks, meaning I’ve thought of little besides Daisy, her baby, and when she was going to calve.  I knew I didn’t need to be there.  This is Daisy’s third calf; in theory she knows what to do.  But I wanted to be there, very much so.

I felt confident she wouldn’t calve in the night because I’ve been feeding her in the evening ~ I have no idea why this practise isn’t more accepted, but if you feed cows in the evening, they generally calve during the day.  Mike is the only one I know in the area who feeds at night and he’s the only one who isn’t night-checking every two hours throughout calving season!  Handy trick for you cow people out there.

However, the only signs I knew regarding the prediction of a cow’s calving were for beef cows.  As their udder fills, preparing for the calf, the wrinkles pop out, and when the last wrinkle between the two halves as viewed from the back pops out, you know the calf is coming within 24 hours or so.  There are other signs, but the udder is a key sign for “Oh! It is close!”

With Daisy, I had no idea what to look for.  Her udder got very full while still maintaining the back wrinkle, but I thought, perhaps, since her udder already had far more milk than a beef cow’s, that maybe it wouldn’t fill all the way before the calf came.  So I was on alert.  Then her udder filled more and the wrinkle popped out.  So I was on high alert.  Then the udder kept growing, filling more and more and poofing out the back!  Now I know for next time.  Baby doesn’t come until udder gets gigantic:

Daisy had her calf at about 6:45am on Friday morning.  It was a mild morning, relatively speaking, and it soon became the warmest, most beautiful day of the month.  Hallelujah!  The calf was wet and shivering immediately after the birth but Daisy licked it off as she should – licking the sac from its face so it could breathe, then its body to dry it off.  I couldn’t stand the shivering so I got a towel and a small space heater and used them both to help Daisy dry the calf, using the the heater like a hair dryer and rubbing the calf, then making a tent with the towel, with the heater and the calf under it – a warm pocket until the sun got strong.

After the calf is dry and warm, it is up to the calf to get up and drink the colostrom (first milk) that it needs to survive.  So gnarly…. I wanted to carry the calf to Daisy’s udder but that’s just not the way it works.  Plus, this newborn weighs about 15 pounds less than I do (that should give you an approximation of how huge Daisy is!) and I couldn’t carry it.  The calf tried to stand several times and toppled over ~ I was holding my breath for like an hour.  Finally it stood halfway up and I stood behind it, so it could lean against my legs as support, and we just stood there for a while.

After about half an hour of standing and taking a few tentative steps without falling, the calf made it over to Daisy and started nosing around for a teat.  It found one and latched on.  I was about to breathe easy, for once the calf is warm, dry, and has it’s first drink, everything is preetty much in the clear.  But no.  Daisy kicked it away.  The calf tried again, and Daisy kicked at it again.

I really didn’t think this would happen after Daisy raised the bull last summer – she had kicked him away, too, for about a week, but then adopted him and let him suck, and the rest is history.  But Daisy kicked away her newborn.  I was SO angry at her…. but then I realized it’s not her fault – she was raised on a dairy farm, where they take the babies away immediately after birth.  The mother cows get milked by machines, as usual, and their milk is bottlefed to their babies.  So Daisy really didn’t know.  And there’s always plan B.

Right about this time, Daisy expelled her placenta/afterbirth and immediately started gobbling it up.  Obsessive, single-minded consumption of her gigantic placenta.  Yes, it’s very gross but also very beautiful, that this herbivore will eat bloody tissue that came out of her own body to save her baby: if the placenta was simply left on the ground (in the wild), it would surely attract predators.

So, while Daisy was chowing on her placenta, I sat down and started milking, into a calf bottle, which is like a baby bottle but holds 1 litre and has a really big nipple on it.  And Mike showed up.  So I milked, and fed the calf most of the bottle, and then Mike helped maneuver the calf over to Daisy’s udder while I continued to milk, and the calf latched onto a teat.  And Daisy let it drink.  She just needed a reminder of the familiar with the introduction of the new, I think.

I may as well add the obvious here, the calf is black.  In this land of Black Angus Beef Cattle, my solid white Brown Swiss and Jersey cow (both typically butterscotch brown breeds), who was bred to a black and white spotted Holstein, produced a black calf.  Major eye-roll to the gods on that one.  But this baby’s coat is not just plain black.  It’s black mixed with equal amounts of silver – a black roan.  (Which doesn’t exist technically, I just invented it.)  I am quite curious to see what this coat evolves into as the months go by.

And then the sun got strong and so, so warm, and Daisy and her new baby and I were able to relax.  I left them together to bond in the straw and went with Mike to feed his cows, and sitting in his truck, feeling safe and happy about everything, I felt like I was finally starting to thaw after having been frozen with tension for so long.  Mike got out to open a gate and I relaxed against into the seat of the truck and this song came on the radio.  One of my favorite songs……. And I realized this male calf’s name is Frisco.

Frisco.  For me, the name conjures the image of a burly man with an anchor tattoo and a heart of gold.  After knowing this calf for a day, the name fits him perfectly.  And it’s a nod to what got me here.

141 Responses to “And The Farmily Grows”

  1. Jim Says:

    What I want to know is, how’d the vodka and clementines hold out? I think you’re like me in that once you have an animal, you love that animal and would never want to let it go. So be careful how big a herd you build.

  2. Keitha Says:

    Welcome to the world baby boy! He’s darling! Frisco fits! Glad you and Mike worked things out and Daisy accepted him. Looking forward to the adventures of this new addition. Thanks so much Shreve for sharing your farmily with us. It’s the next best thing to being there. Y’all have a wonderful Christmas!

  3. frannie Says:

    What a wonderful, uplifting story! The world is a better place because you’re in it, Shreve. I love how you love your critters, the land, life in general. Give all your furry ones a hug for me, and an extra one for Baby! Have a wonderful Christmas.

  4. Morgan Says:

    Oh my goodness….thank you for sharing the story of your new addition to the Farm-ly!!! Awesome!!!!

  5. Luci Says:

    Congratulations and welcome Frisco!

  6. Mamba1-0 Says:

    Congratulations! He’s beautiful.

  7. Melissa Says:

    Thank you for taking me back to my childhood. To the beauty and wonder that everyday on our farm brought. I miss it so much and Frisco and Daisy’s first day together brought tears to my eyes.

  8. Tee Says:

    Congrats on the new baby! He is too cute. I really love the third pic of Daisy with Frisco, and I’m really looking forward to hearing about Daisy’s experience as a mother to him.

  9. Marlene Says:

    Shreve! Please tell us more about “Baby” and his issues???????????
    is he jealous?? I really am interested in the dynamics between all the other animals once the new baby from Dasiy came???? Its so interesting and people that do not have the oportunity to experience farm life..really find this facinating!!!!

    thanks Marlene from Cambria

  10. Ursula Says:

    Welcome little Frisco. I bet you are so proud of Daisy, this made me smile. Congratulations Shreve and Daisy.

  11. wright Says:

    Many congratulations! And many thanks for you continuing to share your life with so many of us. Your writing is engaging and clear, your appreciation of the world informed but far from cynical.

    Quite happy to be wrong about the calf’s gender as long as all of you are happy and healthy.

  12. Bethrusso Says:

    What a great story – did you ever believe you’d be such a farm girl?? That’s just AWESOME!!!!!!!! Frisco’s a great name by the way ~ ♥

  13. Janet in NYC Says:

    How Wonderful! Merry Christmas to the Farmily and Welcome to Frisco!

  14. hello haha narf Says:

    i’m thrilled to read of the new blessing to your life. congrats to daisy on doing a fantastic job of being a mom. and congrats to you for all the help you gave!
    frisco is a terrific name for your new addition. i wish you all health and peace!

  15. epeefencer Says:

    WOW!!! Made my day, as usual. Beautiful pics and congrats to the newest member of the farmily :)

  16. Marva Says:

    Congrats, Shreve. Thank you for bringing your readers in to your life with the farmily. Makes picking up a half gallon of milk mean much more that usual for this city dweller. Happy Holiday!!

  17. chook Says:

    bebeh cows are the sweetest, with their long eyelashes.

  18. EquosDesigns Says:

    i used to love watching the calves get born on our farm. those are good memories. it is amazing to see a herbivore munch down the huuuge placenta too.

  19. Tina Says:

    Thank you for sharing….brought tears to my eyes!

  20. Loretta Says:

    I got kinda choked up too, reading that manger story on The Solstice…sweet Frisco has the look of our old tortoiseshell cat Komiko, wild but dear, tough and vulnerable. Thanks, Shreve, for letting us ride along on your adventure — the good energy warms me like your space heater and towel warmed the babe.

  21. belle Says:

    Congratulations!! All of your animals are so lucky to have you and your love. God bless you for taking the time to care for all of them.

    Merry Christmas to you and your farmily and to Mike – Have a wonderful 2010!!

  22. JayneZ Says:

    Mooy good! (sorry just couldn’t resist!) Love Frisco’s profile — absolutely perfect.

    Happy holidays and an even better New Year to you and your 4-legged companions!

  23. Siobhan Says:

    Is there anything more serene than Daisy’s face as she watches over her adorable baby? I think Frisco is the perfect name for him and he is soooooo cute! So glad things went (mostly!) smoothly and that everyone is safe and sound.

  24. Carmen Says:


  25. Michelle Says:


  26. Theresa Szpila Says:

    Congratulations, Daisy and Grandma-Shreve!

    Welcome to the world, Frisco!

    Thanks so much, Shreve, for sharing all this with us. I’m thrilled to bits that momma and baby boy are doing well and thriving.

    Hugs to all!!!!!

    (Can’t wait for Charlie’s reaction. Chloe’s and Eli’s, too.)

  27. Gretchen Says:

    Welcome Frisco, and congrats to Daisy & Shreve!

  28. Angela Says:

    Congrats Shreve on the newest member of your family–He’s beautiful!

  29. June Corbett Says:

    Shrieve, How wonderful your new addition is! I have followed you since I saw your article in People Mag. and I marvel at your words. We had such problems with Coyotes here in Colorado that I was drawn to your story of a saved animal. There is such fear & mis-information that it was refreshing to see a story written about the good in nature instead of placing fear. Your pictures are something to marvel at. I shared your book with all my employees & they want me to print out the pic’s you send out so we rotate them on our info-board each time another comes out. I even send his pic to my daughter, Tandra, who is deployed at the time & she shares his pic with people deployed in the AF with her. Thank you for Charlie’s story. It inspired me to learn more about Coyotes. Merry Christmas to you, Charlie and all your farm family. June Corbett, Westminster, CO

  30. Kari Says:

    Thanks for sharing the lovely photos, and story. Here is hoping that you all have a wonderful Christmas.

  31. Angela Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing! Merry Christmas, Shreve. I hope you have a GREAT 2010.

  32. Evi Says:

    Congratulations. What a beautiful Boy. Thanks for sharing your critter adventures with us. What a lovely Momma Daisy is.

  33. msdramateacherlady Says:


  34. LeaAnn Says:

    Congratulations on your new addition! Just happened to come across this, and wanted to comment. I grew up on a farm where we had Brown Swiss cows that were bred with Holsteins. All of the babies ended up solid (pretty much) black. Must be something in the genes.

  35. Mercedes in Florida Says:

    Congradulations Shreve & Daisy! I loved your book and always look forward to your weekly pictures. Now I will look forward to the updates on Frisco as well! Thanks for sharing all your joys of your amazing life with us.
    Welcome to the world Frisco!

  36. gabrielle Says:

    hello im a big fan of your book im only 9 years old and I was 8 when I saw the book up in estes park my papa bought it for me on christmas and since then I have treated the book like its a precious baby and not stopped reading I sware its like non stop do not pay atttieon sorry if I spelled that wrong any way its like a reading day and by the way when does chole get in the book or is she not in the book?cause I dont know you do

  37. Peg Schoenfelder Says:

    I am betting on a she-calf named Yuma.

  38. Kat Says:

    Thank you for posting pictures and continuing the story of your growing family. My husband and friends LOVE your book, your spirit and your thought process. We have always loved animals and the way you have trained Charlie has been an inspiration to us with our current highly intelligent “rescue” dogs…a Border Collie mix and a purebred Jack Russell Terrier. You trained a coyote, we should be able to train these two crazy dogs!!

    Thank you, Shreve!

  39. ginny Says:

    Wow. Nothing sweeter than a brand new little being. Oh, and those calf eyelashes!!! Closeups, please. =0)

  40. Emily Says:

    Wow, Shreve. Congratulations on the new calf! Those are great pictures of Frisco and his beautiful mom. Daisy looks like she’ll be a great mom. I hope she is. And don’t stop taking pictures of Charlie. I enjoy them so much. I’ll see some here in AZ now and again, but I see them everyday with your pictures. Congratulations again and good luck!

  41. Debbie Says:

    Hey Shreve, just browsing old your pics, Frisco is adorable! After reading through I’m glad you explained what breed Daisy is. I manage a dairy here in Colorado and when I saw her udder I thought “wow, she looks like a dairy cow!” From her color I thought she might be Charoilas but turns out she is a dairy cow. I know these are at least a year old but enjoy browsing anyway. Hope you are well.

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