Cows Homesteading

Every cow person should know this. (I didn’t. And it cost me.)

So, yeah, there are basic things every new cow owner should know. Here’s where I bow my head in shame and admit I didn’t know them all. In my last post I explained the most embarrassing thing possible that I didn’t know about our new cow. The other one, which I’m gonna share today, isn’t as embarrassing but it is a whole lot more discouraging. Sadly, this lack of knowledge led to the death of one of our sweet farm animals.

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Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of things that I DID learn. I know more about bovine anatomy and gestation cycle, and milking veins and vulvas, than I ever thought I would. I’m sure if you are dreaming of someday adding a cow to your homestead, you’ve done your share of reading about these topics as well. But there’s one thing I totally wasn’t prepared for and don’t remember reading anywhere.

Momma cows, at least good ones like our Scout, are extremely protective of their new little calf. Scout was totally fine with all of our family members approaching little Selah and petting her soft baby fur, so I didn’t think much about her being leery of any of the animals on our farm. I assumed if it was a familiar person or critter, Scout would not question their intentions with her little one.

I was wrong.

I should have seen the signs.

If you follow along on the SoulyRested facebook page, you’ve already read about my anguish and sadness. But basically Scout never had liked Teddy ever since the little barn cat, who was still in barn-cat training, entered our homestead. Teddy was feisty. Teddy had an in-your-face attitude. And Teddy loved to play. Scout didn’t appreciate the way Teddy pawed at Selah, trying to play with the newborn calf. Scout saw Teddy’s antics as invasive and told him so by mooing loudly when the kitty came around the stables. Scout even went as far as picking Teddy up with her nose and tossing the cat through the air with vigor when Teddy pawed at Selah, asking her to play.

Just as Teddy hadn’t yet learned all the details of the barn-cat job description (he still hadn’t figured out how to catch a mouse), he didn’t learn to read Scout’s intentions either.

One morning, when Selah was only three days old, Scout had had enough. With one swift kick of her hoof, our momma cow put an end to our little Teddy before he ever finished his barn-cat training. We found him in Scout’s field, squashed to death while still lying on his back in the “play-with-me” stance.

In retrospect, if I could do things differently, I would restrict Teddy from accessing Scout’s field for a few months, until Scout’s new-momma protective instincts calmed down a little. Now we will wait until a friend’s new litter of kitties is old enough for us to choose a new barn-cat-in-training. Hopefully he will be a little less in-your-face with Selah, a little more respectful of Scout, and a little better at figuring out how to catch a mouse or two.

Meanwhile, we are enjoying a very prosperous garden this year, and I’m baking something new every day, experimenting with exactly which recipes I will include in Sweet Maple, which will be in print this fall!

But our barns and fields feel a little empty of character these days. We miss you, Teddy.




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3 Comment

  1. Poor Teddy! I’m so sorry.

    We’ve lost cats and kittens to coyotes, drowning in water troughs, and other situations. I miss each and every one of them. We’ve had dogs kill chickens and ducks and geese. Life isn’t easy on a homestead. I have to watch my horse carefully, she doesn’t like dogs or cats and chases them away – and she’s not even being protective of a baby.

  2. We have a burro named Scout and I adore that little thing. I cannot imagine how it felt to find Teddy like that. I’m so sorry. Thank you for posting this on Homestead Hop. I didn’t know this at all and we are about to get cows. Blessings

  3. Sad, but good to know. I knew cows and horses pack a powerful kick, and the dangers they can pose to humans who are not cautious, but I wouldn’t have considered how they might react to another barn animal in that type of situation!

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