Late Night Calves & Early Morning Runs

Greetings from beautiful 50ish degree Minnesota. I think today’s high temp was almost 70.

In my world, late nights are semi-regular. I never know how my evening will go after I leave work (my day-job) to head to the farm. I pour bottles of milk, feed calves, check for new calves, help with fresh cows and play “jack-of-all-trades” if the husband needs help 🙂

 Whoa – back up. Anybody know what a “fresh cow” is? I just realized that might be a strange term. A fresh cow is a cow that is a new mom. Another way to say a cow has just had a baby is to say that she just freshened.  Obviously her milk is as fresh as any other cow’s milk, but that is just a bit of lingo that exists on a dairy farm.

Anyhow, back to the post at hand. I most often have a late night at the farm if a calf is born as I’m finishing up/ getting ready to leave – usually somewhere around 7:00 p.m. (My in-laws live on the farm, and our house is a short 10 minutes away. Not sure if I’ve shared this detail before.) So if a calf is born it needs to be moved to a hutch with fresh straw, fed about 4 quarts of colostrum, and have its navel dipped in iodine to prevent any infection.

Colostrum is just the milk a cow produces right around the time she gives birth.  It is a thicker milk with more nutrients and also antibodies the calf needs to “jump-start” their immune system. We’ll milk the mother cow ASAP, and then I (or whoever is present) will feed the calf. A calf absorbs the antibodies from colostrum best right at birth, so it’s important to feed them quickly.

There’s a variety of reasons we feed calves by bottle instead of letting them suck from their mom, but one of the crucial ones is to allow us to monitor how much the calf drinks and ensure it’s enough.  If the mother doesn’t produce enough colostrum for her calf, we can supplement with colostrum from another cow who recently gave birth – we store any extra in the fridge for a few days.  We’ll also do another feeding of just colostrum before we transition the calf to regular milk.

One of our employees is part-time and helps at night ,so he can also take care of new calves if I need to leave early or if I’m already gone for the evening. I couldn’t quite take a picture of myself while feeding this new calf, but here she is – inside her hutch – with the bottle I used to feed her. Notice how her navel (belly button area) is dark from the iodine?

Now that I’ve exhausted the topic of dairy calves, I’ll tell you how I save the world, one morning run at a time.

           [insert picture of corny super hero in Nikes or corny t-shirt here]

Just kidding, but I do think morning runs help save my sanity and preserve happiness! I don’t normally run early on weekdays in fall because I dislike running in the spooky darkness. I’ll do the treadmill if I must, but that’s a whole ‘nother post. This morning I had a meeting out of the office close to home, so I had more time than normal before I needed to leave. This gave me just enough light to get in a few easy miles at sunrise. Gorgeous. I always forget how much I like morning runs. I hate pulling myself out of my warm bed – groggy and hair sticking up – but once I’m up and devour a bit of toast or banana and get my running shoes on, there is no stopping me. A cool, fall run is always worth it.

How about you – what’s your favorite time of day to run, walk, or just be outside?

About Lisa

Hi, I'm Lisa. Dairy farmer's wife and Minnesotan to the core, I write about rural farm life, running down country roads, and the food, faith, and family that bind everything together. Follow along on my journey.
This entry was posted in Baby Calf Care, Cows, Running and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Late Night Calves & Early Morning Runs

  1. sweatykid says:

    Morning morning morning! I’m a morning runner all the way, even if it’s dark… until things get icy… then I need to get creative. Wow, you’ve got busy days after work — no wonder you appreciate your morning run opportunities!

  2. lifeisbeachykeen says:

    Uhm no run outside is good until about November. I prefer evening runs, I really can not drag myself out of bed in the morning early enough to run and then get ready for work.

    Yesterday was the first day in months the weather was decent, and as you saw in my post I got attacked by gnats so it really wasn’t that enjoyable. boo.

  3. Pingback: Our Soon-to-be Mother Cows « Cow Spots and Tales

  4. Pingback: Ten and Twenty « Cow Spots and Tales

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