Monday, March 19, 2012

Gentle Jersey cows but bad tempered Jersey bulls

Churchill Island offers visitors a taste of farming practices as they were in "the olden days". Every day there's a demonstration of hand sheep shearing, whip cracking and boomerang throwing, Border collie dogs working sheep and ducks, a blacksmith demonstration, wagon rides, and the hand milking of a Jersey cow called Tabitha. The milking is popular with children who think of milk in cartons in supermarkets and are amazed to see it coming from a cow.

Our first farm was only 13 acres, but it was here in Western Victoria that we learned to take care of sheep, cattle, goats and poultry; build fences -- -- -- --. It was a steep learning curve, as both of us were brought up in the city of Melbourne.

One morning, when I'd walked to the gate to collect the mail, I heard a faint noise in the long grass and upon investigation found a one day old Jersey calf. She had such badly grazed front knees that she couldn't stand, but when her enormous eyes met mine it was love at first sight.

Doug and I carried her back to the house where we came to the conclusion that she'd probably fallen off the back of a truck or trailer on the way to the weekly calf market in Colac.

Weeks of loving care followed as we bathed and dressed her knees, waited for the swelling to reduce, and then helped her learn to walk again.

We kept her for 15 months before selling her to our neighbour who milked a small herd of cows. But I was in tears when she finally left our care.

It seems strange that most Jersey cows have gentle, reliable temperaments, whereas Jersey bulls are renowned for their bad temper and can rarely be trusted.

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