Something was afoot. Jordan noticed immediately. As he approached the cow barn for the morning milking, he saw Dandelion, our nine month old heifer calf, jumping up on the back of her mother, Daisy. Dandi was straddling her spine, front legs dangling to either side. Daisy just stood there.
One super tolerant mom?
Or perhaps, could Daisy be in heat?
We have been waiting eagerly for this moment. Daisy gave birth to Dandi in March, and launched our milk making enterprise. To keep up Daisy’s milk production, we need to breed her again, otherwise mother nature will take her course, and after a year or so, her milk will slow to a trickle. Gestation takes nine months. So the sooner breeding happens after a birth the better.
Yet Daisy was not showing any of the tell tale signs—no bellowing or moaning, no tolerance of spine-straddling compatriots. Except for maybe once. Until today.
Jordan decided to conduct his own test. He hauls himself up onto Daisy’s back, sitting astride, as if on a horse. He knows. If Daisy is not in heat, he will find himself off her back in a flash. If she is in heat, he will prove himself a veritable cow-rider, for she will stand and wait, hopefully. Little does she know.
Jordan is on and Daisy is not moving. He leaps off and runs inside to get the telephone. “Call the breeder!”
We call our local breeding specialist, Ray Foote. We trust him. He is two for two, having bred Daisy once before and then the expecting Precious. Can he do it again? We leave a message. Several hours pass. The kids are getting anxious. We have about a twelve-hour window, before Daisy’s fertile day is done. We have no idea when it began.
Minutes before noon the phone rings. It’s Ray. He’ll be here in fifteen minutes. Everyone cheers.
Soon enough, Ray is pulling into the driveway. In the back of his truck, he has everything he will need: a vat of frozen sperm vials, a test tube warmer, a selection of long syringes, and lots of armpit-grazing plastic gloves.
We discuss Daisy’s mate. Ray recommends Rebel. “He makes good bags,” he says. A good bag (translate “udder”) means good milk. Sounds fine to us. Dandi’s dad was a bull named Mecca. But monogamy is no issue here. We approve. The match is made, if not in heaven, well then, in Hebron Hollow.
Ray selects a vial of Rebel’s relics and slips it into his test tube warmer. He then fills an arm length syringe and pops it inside his shirt. The sperm like it warm. He dons his gloves.
We walk into the barn where Daisy is waiting. Ray lifts her tail and reaches in. “Yes, she’s in a good little heat.” He knows these things.
He guides the syringe right into the O rings, and gently empties it through Daisy’s cervix. He is an expert at finding the deposit spot. It is why we called him. Thirty seconds. Daisy is done. She doesn’t seem to mind.
On the way out, Ray gives each of the kids a terrific knit hat, warm and sung. Blazoned across the front of each hat is the name “Big Foot A.I. Breeding Services.” The kids wear them proudly, especially Kai.
I can’t imagine that fertility clinics will be handing out such knit favors any time in the near future, but perhaps it is somewhat reassuring to know that it began with cows, and that it can work!
Now, we wait again.