Sometimes I post about other animals in our “farm collective”, the group of creatures who share our environment on this farm.  Today, I want to get around to telling you about Mocha, although it’s a bit early for her birthday.

The weekend was pleasant, even reaching the 60s on Sunday.  Banner got to go out for “ice cream” – twice!  So it was a very good weekend from her perspective.  The frozen custard shop has had new owners for a couple of years.  It was delicious from the beginning, and the sundaes now are even better.  Plus, it is always better when the weather is warm.  Banner gets excited and by the time we pull into the drive-thru lane, she is looking at the window, where the good stuff comes out.  Parker used to get excited about this place so that he would jump into a full-body point as we drove by.  We didn’t stop nearly as often as he would have preferred.

At home, I was sitting at the workstation near the patio door when movement caught my eye.  At 10:30 in the morning, “Henry” was trotting down the drive toward the barn.  Our nephew named the resident possum at his home “Gary”, so this one, who has been living in the barn for a very long time, getting fat on cat food, needed his own name.  Henry’s coat looks rough, but his gait was that of a youngster.  He was much taller than I would have expected, and he was gaiting with his mouth open.  I suppose that even possums with a heavy coat get too warm in the 60s.  He was displaying some fearsome teeth, and he seemed to be in a hurry.  Since possums are, at least hypothetically, nocturnal, Henry must be one of those stay-up-late kind.  Perhaps he partied too far from home and didn’t leave himself enough time to get back.  I used to do that as a kid when I was out with friends riding horses.

Mocha is in the pasture on the other side of the drive from Henry.  She’s a darling girl, all 1400+ pounds of her.  Mocha was born on March 13, 2003 to a very old mother.  We had bought a small herd of cattle, and her “heavily-bred” mother was in the group.  We kept her mom in the barn near the house, and she was down for a while before Mocha was born.  “Goldie” was much too old to have been bred, and she couldn’t go with the herd across the pastures after Mocha was born.  Goldie became the first “retiree” to be kept on the farm.  And for an old girl, she had a good sense of humor and a very direct way of engaging with you when she wanted something.  Her technique was unmistakable.  She would look directly at you with intensity.  Perhaps cows also believe in telepathy.

Mocha uses this same method of communicating, but combined with a deep, low bellow.  She and most of her offspring have this easily identifiable voice that sounds like the horn of an ocean-liner.  And she and I are buds, so she expects me to listen.  We became buds when she was old enough to go out with the herd but smart enough not to come back in the evenings on her own.  I would walk across the pasture in the late afternoon calling for her, and as soon as she saw me, she would come running toward me and we would go back to the barn where she could get a full tummy from mom.

Goldie reached her late 20s, and she died from slipping down an embankment to the creek in deep snow, not due to illness or “old age”.  “19” was the next retiree, and another personality.  Mocha was retired about a year and a half ago, and she and 19 became pasture buddies.  The old ones are attended to, receiving more grooming from others than being the groomer.  In the past couple of winters, 19 was struggling.  This winter was her last.  She was in her early 20s.  The next retiree is Mocha’s First Daughter, Rosa.  I was there when Rosa was born.  Rosa is a lot like her mom, and she and the replacement heifers and her calf have been staying in the east pasture this winter with Mocha.

Kids need socialization, and Sunday was the date for the bull to be rotated back to the bull-pen, so the rest of the herd was put back together with the thought that Mocha could be fed without competition.  That clearly wasn’t going to work.  Mocha has some difficulty moving already, but once the others were moved to the barn for treatment, she began pacing from one gate to another, calling out in her foghorn voice.  So the “kid” and Rosa were put back into the east pasture with Mocha.  He has been doted on by his mother and grand-mother, so he won’t lack attention, and he won’t miss being picked on by that rascally heifer, who will be getting her due by those bigger than her.

So by the close of the day, all was at peace again on the farm.  Humans went to bed early, and Banner began snoring before we went to sleep.  It was a good day.

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