We were so touched by this gentle and loving interaction between Hope MHB 04-11 and her calf by Griffen MHB 06-24, Hope VST 14-92. It’s such a treat when we get to spend some quiet time with our Boran herd taking photos and generally bonding with the cows. Every-day farming is so hectic and Quentin is either rushing to get through working the cattle or bogged down with paper work behind his computer. Being up close with the cows in the veld and seeing their personalities come out is what makes this job really special. Wouldn’t it be nice if we just had more time to relax and enjoy them!
This is the story of a little Boran bull calf who fell down an aardvark hole and was very lucky to be rescued by Quentin. We’re not sure if other Boran farmers have experienced this too, but we’ve had quite a few incidents of calves falling down holes that they couldn’t get out of, much more than with our other cattle. We have no idea why!
On this particular day, Quentin went to visit a herd in one of the furthest camps on our farm. It was a beautiful clear afternoon, perfect for taking photos. When he got out the car he could hear an animal bellowing in the distance away from the main herd. He couldn’t see any animals so he ignored it at first, but when the sounds didn’t stop he went to investigate. Eventually he found a very deep aardvark hole in which a calf had got stuck. He had to pull with all his strength to get the calf out and then tried for half an hour to get it to stand. By then the whole herd, including the calf’s mother was crowding round. It was late afternoon so he couldn’t leave the calf in such a state because the jackals would surely get hold of it in the night. In fact, only a week earlier we had seen a jackal calling on the cliff above that camp in broad daylight!
He drove back to get some help and then loaded the calf onto the bakkie and chased the whole herd and their bull, Zed DLV 10-17, closer to home. The calf and its mother were put in a small camp next to our house, but it took a few hours the next morning to get it to stand again. Fortunately this story has a good ending and the calf is now looking much better and drinking greedily from its mother. But it’s scary to think that if Quentin hadn’t driven out to take photos that afternoon it could’ve all ended very differently. Please let us know if anyone else has had similar experiences with Boran calves.
Quentin had an opportunity to give our little almost-one-year-old Livia, a proper introduction to our Boran cows today. She’s often seen our herds from the safety of the bakkie and passed them on our daily walks, but today she got up close with her daddy. Boy did she love it! Some of our best cows were together for our annual IVF programme, which is a way to get more offspring from our top animals. We couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity for Livia to meet our herd matriarch Hope MHB 04-11 and her beautiful little heifer calf by our former stud sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who was sold earlier this year. If her shrieks were anything to go by, Livia thought it was all very impressive and entertaining, much to her daddy’s delight!
The first rain of the season heralds the start of our cattle breeding season here in the Eastern Free State. After a good long rest over winter, our bulls have all been tested for fertility and STDs and now they are being put to work with the ladies. Here is group of young heifers, mainly from our previous herd sire Rustin MHB 06-30, who have been joined for the first time by one of our stunning young bulls, Zambuca VST 11-01 (Khan MHB 04-27 x Zelma). He is a very exciting prospect who is a strong contender to take over the role of herd sire at Vastrap. He is already on the job – any of you girls keen for a body slammer?!
At Vastrap Boran we’ve decided to coin a new collective noun for the Boran – a cluster. We think this perfectly describes the strong herd instinct of the Boran. They always stand together in a tight-knit group, which helps them to ward off predators and defend their young. This attribute also makes it much easier to manage the herd as illnesses can be spotted quickly and animals are less likely to stray, especially in mountainous or bushy terrain.
The beautiful breeding cluster shown in the photos below is currently running with Rustin MHB 06-30, the main stud sire at Vastrap Boran.
There are few things more enjoyable than heading out after a long day on the farm to spend some quality time with our main herd of Boran cows. They are usually very happy to see us and come running in their cluster to say hello. Long before Quentin started his cattle stud he always told me that he loved being a stockman because cows have personalities. I didn’t really understand this until I met the Boran – curious, serene and beautiful animals each with their own little quirks.
The matriarch of our herd is Hope MHB 04-11 (see The HOPE bloodline). She is a beautiful polled white cow with a strong head and the most gorgeous gentle nature (see Hanging with Hope). Importantly, she is a breeder of bulls with three stud sires among her progeny (see Husky MHB 07-09 and Hero MHB 06-13). We are savouring every moment with her as she will be sold at our auction on 16 August. It seems terrible to have to let her go, but we’ve made a commitment to sell every single 9 year and older cow, which includes some of our very best (see 2013 Vastrap Boran Auction). Hope is the front-page girl on our auction brochure which will be released soon. I think she does a great job showcasing the quality of animals that will be on offer!
We’ll miss you Hope, but I think your absence might open the way for some other beauties to reveal their personalities. I can see there are some characters just waiting for an opening! You have left your mark on the Vastrap Boran herd and still have much work to do in your new home, where ever that may be.
We spent Easter Monday morning replenishing salt licks and checking on the animals as our staff had the weekend off. These Boran heifers were weaned a month ago and seem to be doing really well.
We have seen from visiting other farms that Boran cattle respond very well to a bit of extra care and attention. When time allows, we make an effort to bond with the animals. It’s a slow process, but eventually the effort will pay off and these little beauties will be comfortable with people and have great temperament.