Henrietta: Almost 5

It’s been a long while since I’ve written an update on our blog cow, Henrietta. She will be five years old next month, and it’s high time for some details. 

Henrietta still lives here on our dairy farm, gets milked three times a day, and enjoys eating, sleeping, and lounging with her pals.  

 
Aren’t they a fun crew?

You may remember her last calf was a bull born in November. She currently lives in pen number four, but she’ll only be staying there until about the first of the year. At that point she will ‘dry up’ or quit giving milk in preparation for giving birth. She is expecting her fourth calf in February. 

Her two daughters are also both milking cows in the herd. 

Sophia, or 4056, had her second bull calf at the end of July. She’s a great milk cow and has never had any health problems or challenges out of the ordinary. She was not, however, terribly cooperative about having her photo taken. She’s eating below on the right. 

  

Lucille, unfortunately, is the opposite. She is two years old and she had her first calf in June. Her calving was truly one of the most difficult births I have ever seen. The baby didn’t survive, and Lucy barely made it herself. She will not have any more calves. 

The bright side for her is she has recovered pretty well over the summer. She’s an average milk cow and has settled into the routine of the barn. She still lives in a smaller pen with a group of other special needs cows, and she is getting less timid and more assertive at the feed bunk.

  
While Etta’s two daughters are a rather extreme example, they show the up and down of dairy farm life. You will have many healthy, happy cows and lots of good days, but you also have sick animals, challenging days, and cows or calves you can’t save. Life and health can so quickly turn to sickness and death, and it’s a hard reality to learn and re-learn on a farm. Still, that reality is true in our human lives too. We fight and grieve our way through loss to hopefully emerge stronger, and with the grace of God we will. 

Let’s end on a more cheerful note, shall we? Nearly five years ago I first picked out our blog calf.

  

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 Cows, Henrietta (Etta for short!) and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Henrietta: Almost 5

  1. Happy early birthday to Etta! That sounds really hard to lose animals. Glad Lucille survived and had a good recovery. I’m sure you encounter many challenging situations with the nature of dairy farming.

  2. smdsmyl says:

    Can you forgive me for asking a dumb question… If Lucy can’t have more calves, how will she continue to produce milk? Or will she take on some other function on your farm? Thank you.

    • Lisa says:

      That’s a fine question! Because Lucy did have a calf she is currently producing milk. Cows will easily give milk for a year or two after having a calf before their production tapers off. So as long as Lucy stays healthy and comfortable we will keep for a few years as a milk cow. Every cow eventually gets to an age or health condition where we don’t breed them again, and at that point they will be sold for beef. It’s hard to say goodbye to cows, but I still believe it’s a healthy and important part of the food system. I hope that helps answer your question; thanks for asking.

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