Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering Rein and her twins
Last week when I was writing the column about Rein, my granddaughter Megan’s cow, I was reminded of something else about Rein. Over the years she has almost always given birth to twins. In fact, I can remember only two years when she didn’t.
People often come up to me, wondering if we have any twins and, if so, how lucky we are to have extra calves. It’s true, a twin is another calf (and twins are cute, too), but in truth, we have always hoped that our cows wouldn’t give birth to twins; they’re a worry.
For one thing, after a mother cow has the first of twin calves and has cleaned it up and everything, then she usually walks off a little way and has the other one — and forgets about the first one.
It doesn’t always happen that way, but it does happen often enough. I can remember going out into Pipi’s Pasture to find a calf off by itself and a cow with a calf elsewhere. Once we had figured out that the cow had twin calves, we had to gather them all up and take them to the corral and get both calves to nurse.
Then, until the calves are old enough to follow their mother, she sometimes gets up from a nap and one calf follows her and the other stays behind. Even worse, the cow might not have enough milk for both calves, or one calf is more aggressive than the other and gets all of the milk.
Sometimes, in years past, we have taken one calf off the mother and bottle-fed him but, believing that calves benefit from their mothers’ nurturing, we have always preferred to leave twins with their moms. In that case, we supplement the smaller calf with a bottle twice a day, usually until the cattle go to summer pasture.
It isn’t that mothers of twins are bad mothers; they’re not. They just aren’t used to mothering two calves. Rein was a great mom. Megan and I have been remembering a year when Rein hadn’t calved yet and so anticipating that she would have twins, we left her at Pipi’s Pasture at summer turn-out time.
Sure enough, she had twins that were inseparable, sleeping side by side. We supplemented the smaller calf with a bottle twice a day, and he nursed besides.
All went well until one June afternoon when a fire broke out along U.S. Highway 40 to the west and spread into a pasture. The wind was blowing, and the fire was headed our way. We loaded up Rein and the twins and a couple of other stay-at-home animals and took them north of Craig to property owned by our son Jody and family.
I took a bottle and milk replacement with me and spent the night out there so I could bottle-feed the calf the next morning, but I couldn’t get him to come for a bottle — not that morning or any time after that. It was pretty apparent that the calf didn’t need the extra milk. From that time on, he nursed only on his mom and thrived.
Megan’s family lived in Bailey during that time. I remember when she came for a visit, and since the animals hadn’t been moved back home yet, someone drove her out north to see her twins. We have incredible memories of our years with the cattle.
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