But we discovered last fall that she does have value to our operation beyond dollars and cents. We had a cow that died and left an orphan heifer, Mosey. Bill took Mosey to the barn to raise her as a bottle/bucket calf. To ease her loneliness and mournful bawling for her mother, he put Miracle in with her as a companion. Once Miracle convinced Mosey that she was a companion, not her mother and therefore couldn’t provide milk, they got along great. I told their story in “Mama Miracle,” dated September 23, 2016.
Mosey was weaned this spring with the rest of last fall’s heifers, bringing to an end Miracle’s position as companion. She’s been hanging with a few of the cows and a couple of calves, not yet weaned, that we kept here over the winter. But a potential problem developed when Bill brought home his two bulls and put them in the same pasture until their services are once again required. We don’t know whether or not Miracle is physically able to come into heat and be bred. But if so, the outcome could be tragic because of her stunted growth. If she carried to term, she might die during the birth process, as might the calf because it wouldn’t be big enough to survive. Preventative measures called for the relocation of Miracle to another pasture.
Once again, Bill found a solution that filled a need and provided a purpose in life for Miracle.
Bill: Hi, Miracle! Could we chat for a minute?
Miracle: Sure, Bill! What’s up? Munch, munch (Miracle is grazing. Due to her stunted size, eating has always been serious business for her.)
Bill: We have a problem. We need to get you out of this pasture and away from the bulls before the unthinkable happens. Shaking your undersized bovine booty in front of these guys could have tragic consequences! I didn’t work so hard to save your life after you were born only to lose you now during an ill-fated pregnancy or birth attempt.
Miracle: I have no intention of shaking my booty or anything else in front of those bulls! They’re creepy and leer at me and sometimes even stalk me!
Bill: I’m pasturing the steers here this year and, since being weaned a few weeks ago, they’re still a little skittish and rowdy. They need a calming influence, guidance in learning to come to grain and range cubes, and general supervision. Kind of like the bovine version of a frat house mom. And they are harmless for you.
Miracle: Frat house mom?
Bill: Hey, that label came from June, part of her old city girl thinking.
Miracle: Figures! She does come up with some good ones, although sometimes she’s gets a little cutesy. (Author’s note: Cutesy?!) So, how many of these rambunctious adolescents are we talking?
Bill: There are 36.
Miracle: OK. I was getting bored anyway. It’ll feel good to have a purpose again. But here’s the deal: No toga parties and no food fights or other Animal House-type foolishness!
Bill: Sounds good. I’ll tell June you’ve agreed to ride herd on the Phi Beta Beefa fraternity!
Miracle: Phi Beta Beefa? Seriously? Another cutesy June-ism?
Bill: 'Fraid so, Miracle!
Miracle: Good grief! Munch, munch.
Miracle whipped those frat steers into shape quickly. I looked out my kitchen window one day and saw them walking across the pasture, single file, with Miracle in the lead. Most of them are comfortable with us moving among them. None are tame enough to eat range cubes out of our hands yet, but she taught them by example to come when the grain bucket is rattled. This is an important tactic in convincing them to go where you want them, through a gate into an adjacent pasture or into the corral to be worked or loaded out.
Below is a picture of Miracle from December of 2015, a sad reminder of the horrible aftermath of her abandonment.
Here she is today. Even though she was born in fall of 2015, she is closer in size to the heifers of fall, 2016. That notch in her right ear was where her ear tag was inserted. The insertion leaves a little raw skin that the mother usually tends to. But in Miracle's case, her mom was sick and didn't keep the wound clean so it attracted screwworms from the raging infestation elsewhere on her body.
The two pics below show Miracle with the Phi Beta Beefa steers. In the first one, she is on the right end in the foreground. Compare her size to the steers. In the second one, she is in front of the frat pack, seriously intent on grazing.
Miracle did such a great job with the steers that Bill’s decided to transfer her to the rented pasture where the heifers are spending the summer. Two of those girls, Mosey and Four Toes, are already teaching the others to respond to the grain bucket and range cubes. Miracle’s mature presence will provide further guidance and leadership to the girls of the Chi Omega Moo sorority!