My Little Heathens’ Cow Herd

Our kids’ cow herd got started with this cow:

 She’s our only Hereford cow in the herd. I’ve blogged about Annabelle before and wrote a column about her too. She was a twin and was our kids’ first bottle calf way back in 2003.

When the kids started bottle feeding her, they named Annabelle, after the Hereford calf from the animated movie, Annabelle’s Wish because our little bottle calf looked like the calf in the movie. The movie has a good message and is a good pick for young kids and is part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Since then, our Annabelle has built a small herd and contributed to a college fund for each of our kids. Once Annabelle’s heifer calves have become momma cows they have either added to the kids’ herd or their college fund depending on whether the calf was a heifer or steer. It’s always a highlight for our family during calving season when Annabelle has her calf and we get to see what her calf looks like.

This fall we put all new ear tags in our cows. My husband wanted the kids’ cows to have special ear tags; something that would distinguish their cows from the rest of the herd. All of Annabelle’s calves have names derivative of her own name; don’t ask me why.

This is Annabelle’s very first calf, which is now a momma cow also.

This is Annabelle’s second calf; also a momma cow.

And this is Tinkerbell, Annabelle’s last year’s calf.

She’s got another year to go before she joins the ranks of the other momma cows so she hangs out with the other heifer calves that are kept separate until they’re mature enough for breeding. 

All of Annabelle’s granddaughters are part of our herd also, but we haven’t gotten so carried away with naming that the kids name them too; we just stick with giving Annabelle’s heifer calves names.

I enjoy spotting the kids’ cows while out feeding and seeing their names on their eartags as much as the kids do. Annabelle started a positive experience for our kids. They’ve learned what ownership feels like. They have experienced the rewards of being involved in the work it takes to raise something either by their growing herd or getting a check with their name on it for the steers they sold. Helping do all the mundane chores and seasonal ranch work has proven that there’s more to being responsible for someone other than themselves.

Allowing our kids to be personally vested in our family’s operation through sharing the workload and having ownership has been one of the best ways we’ve taught our kids about money, good work ethics, and understanding how the working world works.

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