Last Friday, something amazing happened here at the homestead! Something we were anxiously waiting for… The birth of a calf!
Our calf was born early in the morning, around 5am. Jason and I were sleeping, and in the predawn we heard one loud, long moo. Jason got out of bed to look at the cows, and saw something laying in the grass next to Ruby. Luckily, we had just moved Ruby and Dani to a small area in our side yard, right by the house and within the light of the street lamp. This means we were able to watch the story unfold from our kitchen window without bothering the new family.
Jason came to tell me that the calf was born, and together we watched as Ruby licked her baby to dry it off. After a few minutes, the baby started to wiggle, and we could tell that it was preparing to stand.
It is common for calves to stand in the first hour or so after birth, and considering their evolution as prey animals it makes great sense… Babies have to be up on their feet and ready to move from place to place in case a predator attacks the herd.
In the early morning light it was difficult for us to see the baby very well, so after a little while we ventured outside to check on the calf and see how Ruby was doing. Dexter cattle are well known for their uncomplicated births, unlike most dairy and meat cows. These larger breeds need a great deal of assistance to birth without injury. This just goes to show you what overbreeding can do to such a normal process!
About an hour after the birth the calf arose on wobbly legs. It stood for a short moment and then tumble-walked downhill towards the edge of the fence. We were worried that it would roll out of the bottom of the high electric fence, so we added a few cattle panels to keep the baby inside the area that Ruby was confined to. By the time we were done with this task, about an hour later, the baby was walking well and had even started to get interested in nursing. What exciting news!
Over the course of the next few hours, the baby dried off (with the help of Ruby’s tongue) and we could see the color of its coat… It is red like Ruby’s! And then, we could finally see the sex of the baby…
A baby bull! And then the name brainstorming began!
I originally wanted to call him Prince (in honor of well, you know, Prince), but it just didn’t quite fit. So now he has the nickname of The Ungulate Formerly Known As Prince.
And then yesterday when we were watching him clumsily frolic around the yard, I yelled “run, Johnny, run!” And that was it. Perfect name for a perfect little baby.
So our lovely, little, healthy bull calf is Johnny. And that Johnny sure can run!
Of course there will be many more pictures and videos forthcoming…