Monday, January 17, 2011

The joy of live calves

I could really get used to days as great as today was. To start out with the greatness of today I must go back to yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was a nice Sunday and Samantha came out to visit. It is amazing how much older kids who have left the nest are much more enticed to come home when there is a new puppy in the household! Yesterday one of my favorite cows calved. This particular cow was the mother to one of Dakotas’ fair steers last year and also to one she is keeping as a fair steer for this year. The cow is getting up there in age and her teats are getting a bit on the large size. I should have probably kept this cow home for a yearling babysitter but I sent her with the general group of spring calving mature cows to corn stalks.

Yesterday she had a nice black brockle faced calf standing next to her but she also had 4 teats that looked like pregnant corndogs. The calf had one teat all clean but I felt rather than exciting her we should just leave her and her new kid alone and hope that by today the calf had somehow got one of the swollen teats in his mouth and got some colostrum. If it had not sucked by this morning I was going to have to conduct a cowman intervention. This meant moving and setting up some portable panels, gathering the cow, hauling her home to milk her out and had all kinds of potential for a high pain in the ass factor.

This morning I decided to check the first calf heifers first. I reasoned that at least the future 12G2 calf was alive and I should focus on the calves yet to be born before dealing with one that at least had entered the world and was breathing. The heifer check went well but 9154W who I have been waiting on to calve still was just eating away with her sloppy beef curtains flopping in the wind with no sign of calving yet to commence. I then ran home to wake my teen who had today off to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day. I wanted her with me for a second opinion if I decided that 12G2 had or had not suckled his mother overnight. We found the cow fairly quickly and not only did she have one, but 3 of four teats that had been sucked down to a normal level and a happy calf with a full belly. Sometimes emotions are hard to explain but I would compare Dakotas and my euphoria to how you feel after a couple of whiskey shots and listening to “Rockstar” by Nickelback! For those who are lost you can check it out here;

No matter what the rest of today tossed my way I was going to be in a great state of mind. We tagged the calf and two others and just watched calves enjoying the sunshine and the 50 degree day. I was in such a good mood I decided that I would work on a project I have been putting off for awhile. I really need to buy a new, well newer pickup. A good cattleman and mentor named Steve Hailey taught me that you should upgrade your pickup every 13 years whether you need to or not. I had been shopping and researching online for sometime and had found two potentials that were within a 50 mile radius. I called on one and found out it had been sold just hours before. Some days that news would have bothered me but not today. There will be other pickups and other days. The rest of the day was spent doing odd jobs until it came time for the late afternoon heifer check. More good news as another heifer had calved on her own and had her calf up and sucking. To really make my day 9154W who I had been waiting on was finally in the early stages of calving. She had yet to produce a water bag but as the sunset I made a note of where she was and decided to come back to check on her a bit later.

About 6 pm Dakota, Festus, Sadie and I went back with our spotlights to see how things had progressed but ran into our first problem of the day. 9154W was not where we had last saw her and the search was on. This cornfield borders acres of thick trees and we could not find her anywhere. After close to an hour of frustration we finally found her on her side under a thicket of trees and brush. She had front feet exposed and was contracting hard. We did not want to unnerve her so we pulled away and watched the stars and the full moon in the winter clear sky for a bit and made sure the calf puller, OB chains, rope etc were all ready to go just in case.We then drove back to where we had found her. When we shown the 4 million candlepower spotlight on her she was standing over a living, breathing, clone of herself and we left her to tend to her business.I will check on her later tonight once again.

I don’t care how many times I see it happen, seeing Mother Nature bring a new life into the world is inspiring and makes me so thankful to make a living the way I do. There is hardly a day without a few personal struggles but days like today make it all worthwhile. When a day works out as well as today did there is only one thing to do, enjoy an obscure but great musical artist in Colt Ford with Jamey Johnson helping out.

Today’s real environmentalist species found on the ranch is the cow, or bovine aka Bos Taurus or Bos indicus depending on genetic background.

Today’s picture is 9027Y who is a first calf heifer that calved late last week.All pictures can be seen in full screen by clicking on them. Hope you all enjoy a great day!