I hadn't realised I had not updated this thread! So here goes the summary...
Spot calved a healthy heifer calf the week before Christmas 2011... great angst ensued when at 17 hours old, at 8pm the calf took off for the cane fields one km up the road and disappeared. We went and got a foster calf from the dairy (Jersey bull calf) and fostered him onto Spot, which takes a bit of restraint and encouragement, but works well in quick order. So, after searching for three days in vain for the calf, traipsing through the cane lanes and scouring the cane drains, I concluded that heifer calf was dead. Luckily, Spot had bonded with the bull calf quickly, and I resigned myself to going out on Christmas Eve, the following day to look for a floating carcass in the cane drains. I was so pleasantly suprised when the neighbour rang me up to say that the heifer had just turned up on his farm, even further up the road, trying to get a feed of his beef cows! This old farmer, said he was listening to his "wireless" and heard a calf mooing that sounded too young to be any of his (what excellent hearing!!). He went out to check and realised it was the calf that I had asked him to keep an eye out for. He, his wife and his son tackled her, bundled her up and put her in the back of the old station wagon and brought her home to me.
The reunion between Spot and the heifer was the happiest event I have ever witnessed in the animal world. Spot was practically dancing around with joy, and the calf just got back to business of having a drink of milk in what was close to 72 hours! What's better is that Spot showed no favouritism between the two calves, foster or real and did a fantastic job of raising them both. We sold the steered calf a couple of weeks ago at 6mths old for $150. I am uncertain as to what I will do about Sugar in the long term. I will probably sell her on as she will make a good friendly hobby farmer cow to breed from.
The Charolais that had the stillborn calf, accepted the foster calf after about a week of twice daily restricted feeds. She became a wonderful mother to him, and showered him with the same amount of attention that I had seen her visit upon her natural calf the year before. We have just sold him, (we steered him soon after getting him) for $200.
Raisin, who is Spot's daughter (Jersey x Angus) had a cute bull calf to our Angus x Dexter bull, MacGregor. He is now 7 months old and still short and stocky, having all the good qualities of the Angus and Dexter breeds. I will be keeping him for our freezer to see what he dresses out at, at about 18 - 22 months old.
Sky, who is Spot's second daughter (Jersey x Angus) had a beautiful heifer calf. I am so sorely tempted to keep her and probably will let her grow out a bit and gentle her up before selling her to a hobby farmer for a grass eater/breeder. She has once again taken to the Dexter side, being small and stocky (even more so than the steer, but that is probably gender based?). Removing her from the property means I don't have to bother about keeping her separate from the bull until she's old enough to breed. I've heard breeding back to her sire won't necessarily create any genetic issues, but that her progeny will need to be sold on.
So, a busy six months with five calves at foot to four cows. All the cows are back in calf I believe, although haven't done the tail bleed yet to confirm, and doubt I will. I have every confidence that MacGregor has got the job done at the first available opportunity. I am also pretty certain I "bumped" Spot's calf the other day, so I have weaned Sugar also and am drying her off from milking.