Thursday, May 24, 2007

Frieland Z Mandolin Rain

Anyone who has known me for a while, knows that I am cow breeding crazy. I get extremely excited every time a new stud proof or AI stud book comes out. Quite a few years back, a bull named Regancrest Elton Durham came out. An Emprise Bell Elton son, out of Snow N Denises Dellia, he made long lean ink black dairy heifers, with mile long legs. I wanted to use him...very very badly. However, he only had a milk proof of about 200 lbs at his best. He was strictly a type bull. And Dad said 'no'. I begged. I pleaded. "Just one cow. Please. I really want to breed him to Dixie and put some leg under the calf." Finally Dad relented. Then, about two weeks after that, geneticists discovered or proved, which ever you want to consider it, Complex Vertebral Malfomation (CVM) in the Holstein breed. And naturally, Durham was a positive carrier. Which was not a good thing. Put him in the one strike to many catagory. And so I was no longer going to be able to use him. I was not pleased. Then Mom pointed out that at SOME point a CVM negative Durham son had to be proved out.

So I put Ivor, our semen rep at the time, on the look out. I wanted a really well bred bull, out of a cow family with some milk, and a bunch of type. He came back a while later with a bull he thought was gonna be just what I was looking for. His name, Ocean-View Zenith. Obviously a Durham son, and out of the Excellent scored Ocean-View Mandel Zandra, with the next dam back an Ocean-View Sexation daughter, that the Nunes family had bought. I liked him. Pedigree was outstanding, his dam was simply gorgeous, and I am a HUGE fan of both Mandel and Sexation. So, as I was only about 15 at the time, Dad bought me the whole rack of semen on him that Ivor had.

As luck would have it, Bingo, one of my mediocre cows came into heat the next day. Being me, I had Dad put a unit of the Zenith semen right into her. Lucky for me, she settled right down, and carried the calf. Nine months later on November 2 of 2002, while Bingo was out on the hill with the other dry cows and a couple of heifers and a big steer, Mom noticed a mammoth black thing running along with them. For a few minutes she was tricked into thinking it was one of the steers...until she noticed it was a new born calf. Just based on size we figured it was probably a bull. We brought Momma and baby down, and checked to see if it really was a male...Surprise of surprises it was a heifer.

Since she was bit muddy we moved her into the barn, and as she was MY baby, I cleaned her up, bedded her down in a huge pile of straw, and fed her.

Then came the hard part.

Picking a name.

I felt this was obviously going to be an amazing animal. Call it gut instinct or whatever you like. She just looked, at at most a day old, like a winner. And none of us could come up with a good enough name.

Then, about a week later, after much debate, Mom and I happened to be in Price Chopper getting groceries, when over the speakers came the old Bruce Hornsby song, Mandolin Rain. Mom jumped and said that's it, Mandolin Rain, name her Mandolin Rain. I loved it. Frieland Z Mandolin Rain. Mandy for short. It was so catchy, and would definitely be unique.

And so Mandolin Rain she became. And just like Durham's own daughters, she grew like an absolute weed. There was not enough food in the world to fill that heifer (there still is not enough food to fill the cow for that matter). Granted Mom didn't really think she was that big. But when a November calf is bigger than a March yearling...well...its hard to call that animal 'small'.

As a result, I worked my butt of getting her ready for the show. She was going. She was led, brushed, clipped, and just basically pampered as if she were a fancy French Poodle.

Finally August rolled around. And to the Altamont Fair we went. With the smallest show string I have taken since I started showing at 6. But Mandy was there. The judge absolutely loved her. He thought she was a September calf. When I corrected him his jaw about hit the ground. Though she was the only heifer in her class, and she won, I would have been happy with that. I had a friend of mine take her back in for Junior Champion, as two of my other heifers had to go back as well, and one was in heat and being a total idiot. The judge lined us all up and went down through slapping rumps to signal which ones he wanted pulled back out...and my own jaw almost hit the ground when he moved Mandy out...And I proceeded to nearly fall on my head when he pulled her out again as one of his top two... Then when he named her Junior Champion I was shocked beyond belief.

She went back the next year as well. And was easily the biggest heifer at the show under two. Again another judge thought she was a September born heifer. And again was shocked to learn she was two months younger. He asked me if I had any intention of taking her out to state, and was a bit disappointed to learn that after that show she was done until the next August. I wasn't quite as surprised that year when she was named Junior Champ again, as the judge had given a pretty good indication with his body language that he planned to put her there.

Unfortunately she has not shown nearly as well as a mature cow. She's got way too much leg for her body, and while her udder is decent, it's not spectacular. Provided I can get her through calving safely next month, she should show as a Four Year Old this year. As of right now she has had two calves. The first one a cross bred bull. And the second my lovely Blitzie, who will also be going to the fair this summer if all goes according to plan.

Look for Mandy and the rest of the 'Show Girls' at the Altamont, and possibly the Fonda Fairs!