Fuzzy ears, “split” twins, and a good five miles

Greetings from Minnesota! We’ve worked our way back to an acceptable temperature, and I would say it’s 25 degrees out today.

Anyhow, let’s get to the good stuff….


2 bottles needed!


Finally at rest

And those are the twins I told you about yesterday! One heifer (girl) and one bull (boy). It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but they really are pretty tiny. I moved them next to each other to get that first shot (but they were moving around so much I think I took 10 pictures to even get one that was usable :-). )

Normally the heifer would be moved outside into a calf hutch. I know I’ve talked about it before, but we like to use calf hutches for the heifers because they provide a clean, warm environment where the calves don’t have to compete with each other for food. They also can’t spread germs as easily and they can’t suck on each other either!

We sell most of our bull calves to a local farmer who raises them for beef, and we also keep a few to raise ourselves. These twins are both inside with the bulls because they are “split” twins. Split twins just means one of each – one male and one female. For cattle, when a female is a  twin to a male, she is nearly always what we call a freemartin.  I don’t know where the name comes from, but what it means is that she’ll likely be sterile or infertile.

I don’t know the full science behind it, but that stats seems to say it happens about 90% of the time. So the heifer can either be raised with other heifers until it can be determined if she’s able to have a calf, or she can be raised with the bulls for beef.

Whew – that was maybe too much information for this early in the morning, but I figured it was probably a little-known fact I should share as I was sharing pictures of the twins.

Running Tales –

Yesterday morning as I ran an easy 5 miles, I just really enjoyed the run. The thought that I can run an easy 5 miles is empowering, as several years ago 5 miles was still a sizeable distance no matter how slow I went! Today is a cross training day, and this weekend’s “long” run is a step back week of only 5-6 miles. It’s been a good, easy running week, and hopefully it has prepared me to tackle the speedwork and 14 mile long run next week will bring.

What is the farthest distance that can feel “easy” to you?

Any questions about the twins?

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.
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11 Responses to Fuzzy ears, “split” twins, and a good five miles

  1. KrisB says:

    That’s a very interesting bit of information about split twin calves. They are all just too cute, though.

    I know exactly what you mean about feeling empowered about running a certain distance like it’s no big deal. It seems like last year most of my easy runs were 2-3 miles, 5 was really pushing it and 6 was a “long” run. Now 4-5 is a normal, easy distance, 8 is pushing it and 10+ is “long”. It’s just amazing to see how far we’ve come with perseverance and determination.

  2. sweatykid says:

    That’s crazy about the female twin often ending up infertile. Does that happen to the male twin too, ever?

    • Lisa says:

      You know, I’ve never really thought about it. Most bulls are castrated and become steers (which just means a neutered/ castrated male).

      So I did a bit of googling, and it sounds like males may experience reduced fertility, but generally aren’t infertile. I guess I’ve started quite the conversation with this post 🙂

  3. i am so going to try and look into that freemartin / sterile thing. fascinating! and the twins are so big! well at least to my non-farm trained mind

    • Lisa says:

      I guess they’re definitely big compared to the baby animals most people are familiar with! These twins are each probably around 60 pounds, but Sugar is half Jersey which is a smaller breed. Our Holstein (the black & white breed) calves average around 100 lbs.

  4. Cassie says:

    That whole freemartin thing is crazy! Thanks for the info!

    And I’m so impressed with your “easy” 5 mile run! I’ve been working very hard on carving out time each day to work out, and I understand the pleasure that one feels when a hard workout begins to feel easier. But running…..ugh…never been my thing! Good for you!

    • Lisa says:

      Good for you for making that personal time – definitely important physically and mentally. I’m sure it’s not easy to do either with the schedule you’ve got!

  5. lifeisbeachykeen says:

    Aw, that’s kind of sad about the baby girl calf. I’ve definitely never heard that before. When we had cows for a few years they never had twins. But, we also weren’t raising them for milk so I don’t think it would have made a difference anyways.

    Do you have any that are just “pets.” That you keep just to keep and don’t do anything with them?

    Hmm, an easy distance. I think it depends on what you are doing during that distance. 5 miles can be easy, but not if it’s a designated speed work out. Then it’s 5 miles of torture. If it’s just a regular run, I think 5-6 could be deemed easy. I have a hard time just having easy runs as I’m sure you’ve noticed lately. I keep pushing myself for the faster speed. 7-9 miles are medium runs, and anything over 10 would be hard or long. The longest I’ve run is 13.1 .. Anything over that is scary. Good Luck on your 14 miler! (yah, and I realize I’m late on this comment.)

    • Lisa says:

      Well, I guess I feel like the cows that are more friendly and like to be petted (or scratched behind their ears ;-)) are sort of pets. Or, if we have cows that get serious health issues, they may quit giving milk, and we certainly keep them and nurse them back to health if we can. All our animals will eventually get sold for beef, but I think that’s true even for people I know that do keep just a few cows or steers if they have the space.

      Totally agree that “easy” distance depends on the workout plan. 5 miles (or even 2-3 miles) of speedwork can be killer. It is still amazing to me that 5 or 6 miles can be completely easy if it’s just a slow pace !

  6. Pingback: Seven Things | Cow Spots and Tales

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