I believe we ended Part I of Garnet’s tale just as she was taking her first steps in our kitchen. Soon after those monumental steps, Garnet was reintroduced to her mother, and 517 accepted her, which was another remarkable event. Most cows will not accept a baby after a few days, but 517 was willing to accept her after more than two weeks. By giving 517 oxytocin shots and continuing to milk her throughout Garnet’s tenure in our house, her milk production was at a good level, and she was able to provide Garnet with the proper nourishment. The fact that Garnet was both raised by people and cows makes her pretty unusual. Normally if a calf is bottle-raised (a “bum” calf), it never really learns how to interact with other cows. Similarly, if a calf is raised by a cow, it tends to be quite timid and shy around people. Garnet got the best of both worlds….she grew up playing with calves, dogs and people!
As Garnet grew older, she would get confused sometimes about her lot in life. She would follow me around during the day, and when I would go back to the house, she would frequently come up on the front porch, walk to the door and then look at me, waiting for her invitation inside. She would frustrate Bob to no end– if he opened the gate to the pen to vaccinate a calf, within seconds Garnet would trot out of the open gate and start roaming the property. Her favorite game was tag. She would run up to you, touch you with her nose and then take off, looking behind her, wanting you to chase her. When she got tired of the game, she just stopped. No matter how fast you sprinted towards her, she would just lazily look at you. That was when we realized we better halter-break Garnet– this was not a cow to be herded!
We halter broke her and taught her to lead, which did not take long at all compared to our horses, I must say. After a joking suggestion that I ride her, I accepted the challenge, and by the time she was a year old, I was riding her around in my treeless saddle. I stopped riding her once we started breeding her. It does not seem fair to put weight on her back, when she is carrying a baby every year! Garnet has remained a glutton for affection. If you want to be her friend for life, just scratch on the top of her tail, right behind her withers or on her chest. Sometimes I like to sit on the ground in front of her and scratch her chest with both hands; she will frequently lick my hat in appreciation as I sit there. As Bob says, there’s nothing else on earth like Garnet.
I finally got to meet Garnet’s newest baby yesterday! He is absolutely beautiful (Bob swears he is the nicest calf that has been born this year), and we are going to call him Onyx. Garnet, Onyx and Sapphire, Garnet’s one year old daughter, are all living together in a pen, so it is quite the family affair. Here I am congratulating Garnet on having such a nice baby:
Bob and Onyx having a staring contest:
Bob holding Onyx for a closer look, while Garnet monitors the situation: