When calves be­come part of the fam­ily

The Glengarry News - Glengarry Supplement - - News - BY STEVEN WAR­BUR­TON News Staff

War­ren Mac­In­tosh knows that there are a few cows on his Ap­ple Hill dairy op­er­a­tion that are con­sid­ered un­touch­able.

One of them is a Hol­stein called Al­leluia, which was named by Mr. Mac­In­tosh’s now 20-year-old-daugh­ter, Kelsey, when Al­leluia was just a calf.

“I still visit her out in the field,” Kelsey says. “I can even go into the barn and call her name and she’ll come to me.”

Kelsey has been a part of Al­leluia’s life al­most since the day she was born. It was Kelsey who washed her, fed her, and taught her to be led in var­i­ous 4-H com­pe­ti­tions.

Kelsey’s mother, Trudy, says that dairy cows are usu­ally turned into ham­burger meat when they get older. On the Mac­In­tosh farm they’re usu­ally kept around a bit longer or sold for breed­ing stock but some – like Al­leluia – are kept, more or less, as pets.

“The calves be­come part of the fam­ily,” she says. “We don’t have a dog or any house­pets and the kids spend so much time with the cows that they form bonds with them.”

In fact, Mrs. Mac­In­tosh says that her old­est daugh­ter, Brit­tany, even had a cow that pouted af­ter re­al­iz­ing she wasn’t go­ing off to another 4-H show.

“The cow just leaned her head on the fence and watched the truck pull out,” Mrs. Mac­In­tosh re­ports. “She had a look on her face like ‘What did I do wrong?’”

Kirk Hill area res­i­dent Bethany Mac­Don­ald, 24, was also in­volved in 4-H from ages 10 to 21. Like Kelsey Mac­In­tosh, she knows all too well the re­al­ity of bond­ing with a calf.

“You ba­si­cally raise them and then things hap­pen,” she says. “Some­times they’ll get sick and you can’t fix it or you sell it to another farm.”

Although she never had a calf die on her, she has had some that de­vel­oped pneu­mo­nia.

“You treat them and they get bet­ter,” she says.

Jen­nifer Fraser, of Gleneil Farms, now 32, hasn’t been a 4H mem­ber for more than 10 years but she also un­der­stands how hard it can be rais­ing calves.

“I grew up on a beef farm and I showed beef and dairy calves in 4-H,” she says. “Ninety per cent of the time, the cows just stayed on the farm and be­came part of the next gen­er­a­tion.”

It’s the other 10 per cent where the heart­break lies.

“I wound up show­ing a steer one year and un­for­tu­nately they don’t stay around,” she says. “It’s kind of sad. You spend a sum­mer bond­ing with an an­i­mal and then they’re leav­ing and you know they’re not leav­ing for the happy pas­ture but you suck it up. That’s the re­al­ity of farm­ing – you deal with it.”

She says that it’s not un­usual for very young chil­dren to cry over their calves.

“You think of them as fam­ily,” she says. “They’re your buddy. Ev­ery day of the sum­mer, you’re with them.”

Oth­ers, like Bainsville area res­i­dent Steve Glaude, says it was never very dif­fi­cult be­cause the calves he raised in 4-H tended to go back to his fam­ily’s farm.

“We raise them and we get off­spring out of them and I feel a sense of ac­com­plish­ment from it,” he says.

Mr. Glaude, who at the age of 23 has just said good­bye to an 11-year 4-H ca­reer, says he’s never had to sell a calf but ad­mits it wouldn’t be the eas­i­est thing to do.

“That’s be­cause you put a lot of work into it,” he says.

RE­AL­ITY CHECK: While young peo­ple form bonds with farm an­i­mals, they also re­al­ize that live­stock does not live for­ever.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.