As she grew up, she was still the darling of the cow herd. After she had her first calf (a bull, soon to be steer), I would tilt my head and squint my eyes and tell myself that her udder wasn't THAT bad. Many more bull calves followed. She was a great beef producer for us, but her udder deteriorated. Soon, she had two funnels in the front. Meanwhile, she began public appearances at church and school. She had a yearly gig as a Nativity cow. The kids gathered around her, the donkey, and our sheep. They were dressed in various roles to tell the story of the Nativity to the littlest kids at the school. They gave Fiona hugs and told her their big kid secrets.
I was very worried about Fiona's udder when she had her last calf. He seemed to favor 2 out of 4 quarters (the back two). We treated her for mastitis in the front two quarters, just in case. He should have been her last calf. We worked hard at separating her from the bull. However, in the chaos of moving to a new farm, she got into the pasture with him, and, of course, it was the right time. Luckily, he is a good bull with excellent maternal traits.
Before this calf was born, Fiona's front two quarters were so stretched and swollen that she managed to step on herself, causing injury. We cleaned her up and wrapped it with paper tape to keep it clean, but she needed support of some kind.
Meanwhile, Fiona gave us a perfect little heifer. A long awaited little dun for Fiona's last calf. This time, however, Fiona only produced a little milk in the two rear quarters. So little, that we were worried about the calf. I started bottle feeding. The baby took a little time to figure it out, but she was definitely hungry! Today, Ursa is five days old and she gets bottle fed three times per day. She nurses from Fiona for comfort. We tie Fiona when we bottle feed, for safety.
We reduced our herd, sold the bull, and now the only calves will be via AI, so Fiona is retired from being a mama cow. She is ten years old.
There was still the issue of giving Fiona the support she needs A cow bra, if you will. So, I ordered 'big man' suspenders and experimented with various undergarments until I found boys boxer briefs that fit her (our son did not like them). We rigged up the ensemble and it seems to be working. If it keeps her comfy and keeps her from injuring herself, then it is worth it, even if it looks funny from the road. Luckily, we live on a dirt road that isn't a main thoroughfare. After all, our son is still mortified that we are technically using his underpants!
Fiona and her homemade bra. And one of baby Ursa with her bottle.
Great news! We have been cutting back our herd and the money from the sale of several cows (all to good homes) will go towards a partial mastectomy for Fiona. Once her calf is six months old, she can be weaned and Fiona can get her surgery. No more stepping on herself.
Ursa the calf is doing well. She is eating grain and nursing from both rear teats. She looked good, so we stopped the bottle supplementation about a weeks ago. Fiona is tolerating her bra and allows me to change out the underwear. It isn't bothering her and she is healing up. Unconventional, but effective.