Another calf was born to ARGO Farms on September 15 via Sutil, who is celebrating her first time as a mother. Sutil happens to be the eldest of Gurangan, our veteran carabao. The calf born to Sutil was named Cholo. So Cholo is Gurangan’s grandcalf.
Gurangan has been in our farm for ages. She was there before I took over, and was among the few livestock we saved from the butcher’s block. Those disposed were useless as farm animals. One was a heifer who had grown too fat to reproduce, another was a bull whose legs were too short and could not mount properly, while the remaining two were carabaos who were stunted and inutile as far as hauling is concerned. Left standing at ARGO Farms were Gurangan, Sutil and Toro, the bull that an aunt owned. To fortify our rather lean working team, we purchased Pas-ing, and another bull.
We all thought Gurangan had gone into voluntary retirement. I had been told that a few years ago Gurangan had stopped in the middle of harvest season, dug her hooves in, and lay in the mud. No amount of coaxing and threatening would dissuade her from the mud bath. It was the same thing next day. And so Gurangan had reinvented herself from beast of burden, to carabao of leisure. We would have sold her right then, if not for the unfounded belief that bad luck befalls those who sell their veteran livestock. Lest we be plagued by dishonest coconut buyers, I conceded to myths and legends. Anyway, Gurangan was not completely useless. The other thing she is good at is reproducing. The old momma had also produced Glenda (whose first born we are all awaiting with bated breaths); Cara; and Swerte, the calf that Mulo (our coconut buyer) has the hots and already a price tag for.
We were caught in a bind this year when Pas-ing had gotten herself with calf. It meant she needed to stop working for a few months in order to recover from calf birth and nurse her young. Since we were only using Pas-ing and Toro as beasts of burden, we needed another carabao to fill Pas-ing’s gap. Enter Lucky, who is Pas-ing’s eldest and had been taking it easy since his training. But Toro and Lucky by themselves were not enough to haul in an expected 12-16 tons of coconuts (August-September is peak season for coconuts), despite the fact that we are underproducing by 6-8 tons.
So Andy, one of our farm hands, tried Gurangan who had already given birth to Swerte and had been nursing him for a couple of months. And Gurangan delivered, thank God. Reintroducing him into labor would have to be slow, so he won’t get fed up. We only use him twice in the morning, and twice in the afternoon. Between the three of them, hauling has gotten more efficient.
Pas-ing has evolved into ARGO Farms’ version of old reliable. She has delivered three offspring so far, two of whom are male: Lucky and Servando; and Bea. Pas-ing is a gentle animal and remains good natured no matter the length and condition of the harvest. Carabaos easily tire in the heat since they have no sweat glands.
In 2016 my aunt purchased a colt, Mike; and a filly we named Bettina. A year after, Cloppy was born to Bettina, and this year, Beloy. But Beloy was killed when he got entangled in his rope. Our farm hands are intimidated by the horses and approach them gingerly, which is why we have been unable to draft them into labor.
As a strategy to acquire cattle without purchasing breeders, ARGO Farms agreed to raise two heifer calves for the Recidoros, who had decided to concentrate on raising layers instead. The heifers have since produced Marleni, Ginny, and Bu, a bull calf. The arrangement makes Marleni and Ginny ours, while Bu goes to the Recidoros.
ARGO Farms has the same arrangement with Maricel, our kasambahay, whose Brahman bull, a heifer, and a calf were brought to the farm a couple of years ago. We’ve had no luck so far. Breeding is further complicated because the heifer is a silent heater. Fortunately, the bull has provided income for the farm by mounting heifers from nearby farms. Each successful mount (impregnating the heifer) nets us P500.
Since 2013 from a low of three the livestock at ARGO Farms has risen to 21. This would have been higher, but Beloy the foal died, and the death of Maricel’s calf was rather controversial - rabies. We had sold a bull (carabao) we had purchased in 2014 for near goring Peter. If Peter had been unsuccessful in avoiding the horn, it would have been Peter we’d be mourning last year. Counting the poor Beloy, 14 of these livestock were bred in-house. So 24? Not bad for a virgin livestock raiser. My grandfather would have been pleased.