Fun Farming Times with a Jersey Family Cow
One of the more docile breeds, Jersey cows are closer to pets when you raise them gently and play around with them a bit. Naturally nosy, it isn’t strange at all to find a calf, or a grown cow, coming to see what you’re doing if you are in the pasture or even come to the door if you are in the barn and they figure out you are in there.
One of our Jersey cows kneels down on her front legs and reaches as far as she can under the electric fence to grab some “greener grass”.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? Whoever came up with that surely was spending time with Jersey cows. They are very crafty about getting what is on the other side, even when it’s the same field and they watched you divide it up with an electric fence. They try a few times to get to the grass only to get that tell-tale jolt that makes them ‘moo’ with a deep low-pitched grunt. You almost know they are thinking, “What was that?!” After a few times they gauge just how close they have to get before they get shocked, then they do a sort of squat on their front knees and turn their head and neck sideways, shove their head as far as they can get under the fence and stick their tongue out as far as it will reach and grab the grass to drag it their mouth. You actually find yourself smiling as you tip your head and wonder how in the world they did that without hitting the fence.
“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”
Building fence is a load of fun. The Jerseys will gather around you and get right in your face when you really don’t want them there and give you a big lick hello, and they steal your fencing pliers from your hand or pocket and drop them. When you bend over to pick up the pliers, they are just as likely to grab your shirt and suck on it as if they are trying to eat it, and they don’t really want to let go. They straddle the fence line, usually over the wire and wait for you to move them. It’s actually easier than you might think. Sometimes you can tell them to move over and they will, and others, pat them on the side or actually give them a little shove. Sometimes they stand their ground, but most of the time they’ll move. They just want your attention.
With Jersey cows you’ll often find they are right there in your face looking for some attention.
Feeding time is like calling your dog. Train them to a certain call or whistle and they will mostly all come running. Feeding them in the manger you are as likely to get a big head and with a set of huge brown eyes stretched to greet you with a sniff or two and a few welcoming licks. They’ll ‘help’ you feed the hay. They will either start pulling off the bale if they can or by stealing flakes right out of your hand.
Curious Jersey cows are often more interested in what you are doing than eating fresh grass right under their feet.
Spend some time just standing in the field with them. They’ll come to you looking for your company. Like a big friendly puppy, they’ll rest their head on your shoulder if you let them and then when you aren’t expecting it, you figure out where the term ‘cow lick’ for hair sticking up came from. They’ll give you a big slobbery ‘kiss’ on the side of the head leaving your hair standing up as if it had hair gel.
When Coco arrived on our farm, you couldn’t get near her. Now she is probably one of the friendliest cows we have.
There is always the ‘hit and run’ kiss. They don’t actually run. You’re minding your own business, going about prepping them to milk and getting the milking unit attached and suddenly they turn their head and give you a kiss and turn their head away again looking in a totally different direction, as if they have no idea of anything. I swear if they could whistle they would with that sing-song ‘wasn’t me; no, nope; I have no idea what you are talking about,’ sort of way. I had one that liked to pull your hat off your head and just hold it in her mouth until you figured out she had it. Just give the cow a hug, scratch it on the head or back, they like that, and admire the big adoring eyes, especially in calves.
A word of warning: Don’t eat snacks around them. They like corn chips and they are quick. Just saying.
June 22, 2014 Farming Fun