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Introducing: Jupiter

Jupiter was born Monday, July 25th midday, next to our pond. It was hot, humid, overcast and thundering though no rain had come.

She was a total surprise!

Earlier this Spring, we acquired Big Mama, our brown highland cow. She came to us at 4 years of age, and had been out to pasture with a black angus bull for most of a year we were told.

It was possible she was bred when we brought her home but we weren't sure. We called our vet but couldn't get on her schedule for a pregnancy check for a few weeks. We said we'd keep an eye on it and carried on.

A couple months went by, and one afternoon she started showing labor symptoms - we got to work and started implementing care for a potential birth. Things were taking longer than anticipated however. We started to panic. Worried she was in distress - no certain signs of continued labor - we stayed up all night doing checks on her. We palpated as best we could (novices) and didn't feel anything. With continued monitoring, extra minerals, water, and seclusion from the rest of the herd, a couple days went by and she returned to normal behavior.

This was odd but it would turn out that her labor symptoms are fairly similar to gastric symptoms for issues like "bloat" which can be very harmful to cattle. The care we gave ended up being needed regardless but we were under the impression no calf would be coming.

Our later vet exam confirmed what we thought- she didn't believe her to be pregnant either. So we all moved on, hopeful that Tonka the Bull would later do his job.

Until Monday.

The day before Jupiter was born, the Homestead Husband calls me out to the pasture to feel Big Mama's udders, which he believed to be full and soft - bagging up. I saw the same but told him it was crazy and we already were sure she wasn't pregnant! He had a feeling though - and he was right!

I heard odd sounding moos in the pasture - different tones and ranges I hadn't heard before. I walked out to investigate when I saw her - a tiny black calf curled up in front of Big Mama.

Big Mama was licking her baby, and the rest of the herd stood watch in a circle. It was beautiful and raw and real. I nearly fell over.

I quickly ran inside to get the children who happened to be home with me that day, and we ran to see it all together. We watched as the calf stood up all wobbling on spindle legs. She took her first steps, and within an hour was running and jumping - frolicking with life.

My ranch held new life. Born here. The first of what I hope is many more. There is nothing like this feeling and we are so proud, grateful to God and thrilled that Big Mama did so well, and all are healthy and happy. This is what we worked for and waited for.

We asked a wise cattle mentor of ours to come by to ensure we had done everything we could to see her succeed in her first day of life - upon seeing her, without hesitation he immediately called to her, "hey Jupiter". None of us know where it came from, or why - and we didn't ask. It seemed to fit and has stuck. Some things are better that way.

Jupiter will get to live out her life here and grow to become breeding stock. We look forward to raising her and are pleased that she makes an even head of 10 cattle here at Dirigo Ranch.


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