Favorite Cows

Reader Contribution by April Freeman
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We have between 10 and 15 mama cows on our farm at any given time. Most of the cows are simply utilitarian. My husband can tell them apart from a distance. He knows them by their numbers, and he can tell me which calf that cow had, how heavy the calf was at birth, and whether mama weaned off a good, heavy calf. If the mama was born here, he can tell me which cow was her dam and which bull was her sire. He also has a pretty good idea of when she gave birth last and about when she is due to calve again.

However, I don’t keep up with all that for most of our beef cows. Some of them, I recognize, like the one we sold a couple weeks ago called Nutsy. However, there’s one cow that I never mistake. Our cow named Sugar.

Sugar is one of our commercial cows, meaning that she has no distinguished pedigree. She’s just a black cow who is about nine years old. She was the very first cow that we ever bought, and she is such a sweetie. And that is why we named her Sugar. She’s so gentle, and she has a very distinctive face. Every year since she was two years old, she’s given us a good calf. Currently, Sugar’s in her prime. She’s weaning off heavy calves on-time every year.

In a few years, Sugar’s going to be getting to the “advanced maternal age” stage. Usually cows that are over 13 years old around here are shipped off to the sales. When cows get older, they are less reliable and less fertile. However, I think things are going to be different with old Sugar.

The Man of the House says that she will always have a place here, even if she’s not always giving us calves. I guess that’s the least we can do for the matriarch of the herd. 

I try not to think too far ahead. With animals, you always know that you’re going to outlive them. It’s just a fact of life. Hopefully, Sugar has plenty of good years left. At any rate, we have a couple of Sugar’s daughters, so her blood will be on our farm for several generations at least.

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