Tuesday, March 02, 2010

CALVES!!! part one

Every time Gina blogs about their calves, I want one. They're so cute!

J and I have also been talking a lot lately about eating better meat. We want to switch to grass-fed no-hormone beef even though it's so much more expensive. We're just pretty convinced that commercial beef is not too good for people. Someone in one of my classes talked about the movie Food, Inc. and we watched it a couple weeks ago. That contributed to things, too.

On 13 February, we were talking again about getting a bull calf. J thought they would be pretty cheap, but on KSL, they're all like $400. Until! We realized! It's because those are the Angus ones that are meant to be steak. Male dairy calves would be cheaper. And they are. We found someone in Ogden who was selling one for $20. Sweet! J and I talked more about the logistics of it--where would we put it? How long would it take to grow big enough to be slaughtered? Does Jersey meat even taste good? J is worried about safety issues: what if the bull hurts someone?

We decided that we could put our little bull in the pasture area, and it would be fine with the renters' dogs. The right amount of time to raise him is 16-17 months, we think, and he can get up to 1200-1800 lbs. We're planning on moving later this year, so what we will do is: either slaughter earlier and not get as much meat, (but really, how many hundreds of pounds of beef do we need anyway?) or leave him in the pastured area and come by to take care of him after we've moved. People online say Jersey meat tastes really good, so that should be ok, and as long as we castrate him when he's fairly young, he will stay gentle.

Okay! With everything figured out, J said I could call about the day-old bull calf. So I did!
But we didn't hear back from the guy on KSL. We didn't hear from him that weekend, or Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday...

So we supposed we weren't going to have a calf after all. (Oh well. We're busy people anyway.)

EXCEPT! The guy called me back that Thursday! He had two bull calves, and did we want them? They were 1 day old (born Wednesday) and they'd had colostrum (= a Big Deal). We had only planned on having one. Calves are expensive to feed. The guy said he would call the next people on his list of people who had replied, and maybe there would be another single one by the weekend (when I said we would probably pick him up), so we could have one then. We talked some more about what if we did take both. The guy said most people want at least two because they keep each other company.

I told him to hang on, I'd talk to J, and I'd let him know. Mayyyybe we could take two. If we did, would he want us to pick them up that evening, or what? He said YEAH! If we could pick them up that evening, that would be great! He would take $30 for both calves.

So I called J at work and we decided that Yes! We would take them both! I called and let the guy know, and I hurried off to IFA to get calf milk replacer. And bottles. And some straw. I went back home and cleaned out the barn. After work, J borrowed his dad's truck and we drove up to Ogden to pick up the boys! The guy had suggested that we bring large-dog crates for them, but said that if we couldn't find any, we could hog-tie them, and that would work. We couldn't find any (sorry, guys!) but J's dad did put a tarp across the back of the truck, to keep so much air from getting down into the truck bed.

I told J that I was planning to name mine "Carne," and J thought he would name his "T-Bone." But then we thought of better names-- J named his "Stew" (like, as in "beef stew"), and I renamed mine "Chuck" (like "roast chuck" or "ground chuck"). They're perfect names for bulls, we think-- Chuck and Stu sound like buff, muscle, manly-biker-guy names. Also, perfect names for steak.

So we went up to Ogden and picked them up, and they were so cute!

I hadn't slept the night before (homework), so J and I had talked about me going over to his house early so we could bottle-feed the calves together in the morning, but we decided not to so that I could sleep in. And then I could just feed the calves by myself.

HAH! Yeah right.

[to be continued...]

[This last picture is from a couple days ago. Chuck is in back (with the orange rope) and Stew is in front (with the blue rope).]

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