A to Z 2015, True Cowboy/Ranch

D is for Darling Calves

DHave you ever gone looking for a calf?

Believe me, it’s harder than you’d think!!! Every stick transforms its self into the legs of a calf, every tree stump somehow shapes its self into a calf, and darker patches of ground suddenly becomes 3 dimensional and grows fur. And when you walk past the momma cow and she turns and bawls back at the place where you were positive you had thoroughly search…I won’t even try to describe that.

First Calf

Well, that’s what happened to me yesterday. It was drizzling, enough to soak you if you’ve been out for a while, but  not enough to bother me. We had two calves on the ground and it was my job to find them and then check the hay to see if they needed another bale. Mom told me that last time she had seen our first calf was on the left side of the mud pit. (There is one part of our pasture that is really low and easily muddies up!! We call it the mud pit.) I saw who I thought was the momma ahead and started toward her, hoping that she’d be by her calf.

Um, well, I looked all around for him by her and didn’t see a thing as she walked off. So, I just figured that she was about to calve and wanted to be alone. The little guy’s momma must have taken him over by the bale.

I started towards the cow, and just as I was about to pass her up, she stopped, turned towards the area I had just search, and bawled.

I was speechless.

So, I turned around and started looking around for the calf again. And this time I found him…closer to the fence than where his momma was. He had his head stretched out on the ground and I couldn’t tell if it was because he thought he was hiding from me or because he was sick.

So I started trying to scoot closer without jumping him up. Up ahead, I see his momma start back towards us…and she wasn’t wasting any time either.

Have you ever read the verse in Proverbs where it talks about the she-bear and the fool? Proverbs 17:12 says ‘Let a man meet a she-bear robbed of her cubs than a fool in his folly.‘ Maybe it’s because the she-bear (she-cow) will just flat out kill you but the fool is completely and totally out of control?? (You get new perspectives on the Bible’s animals when you live with big animals. 😉 )

If a cow chases you, run behind a tree. Grandpa had drilled that into everyone’s head. But I started thinking as she was snapping her way through the woods toward me, these trees aren’t very big over here!!!!! She’s gonna hit the tree, break it apart, and keep coming!!!

I had to see this calf up. It was mandatory. Well, I thought as I started towards the gate and fence, I’ll just let her get him up.

Momma got to her calf and I was watching by the gate, ready to take a flying leap/climb/scramble sort of thing over it and walk up the outside of the fence, safe and sound. I had spent enough time (two days) in the hospital with my appendicitis and a whole month of recovery with no horses whatsoever and I was not eager to repeat that experience.

Sure enough, while keeping an eye on me, momma got her calf up and I warily walked, also keeping an eye on her, down the inside of the fence line towards the bale and the rest of the cows.

I walked through the right side of the woods, checking for the second calf and maybe a new one. I didn’t see any. I got over to the pasture and there stands (yes, stands) our six year old White Park giving birth!!!!

I jump up and go tell Mom what I’ve seen and she says to keep an eye on her but to let her go and do it on her own. Then she asks me about the bale.

Oh shoot. I forgot to check the bale with Whitie and all. But ok, I still gotta find that second calf. It stops raining right about now and I’m frying in my jacket. The outer layer is soaked through but it hasn’t gotten through the warm layer under that. I take it off and leave it at the barn. After all, it’s fifty degrees outside!!

Second Calf

So, I walk out to find the second calf, knowing that he was last seen in the front of the woods. (Our woods are divided up into three sections, left is on the left side of the mud pit, right is on the right side of the mud pit, and front is the part cut off from the rest of the woods by our pond.) I start walking out there…and there goes his momma to find and feed him!!!! Well, I sneak along behind her (not doing a very good job because she keeps glaring at me) and she leads me straight to him. He gets up and starts sucking (without momma #2 killing me) and I head for the bale.

Whitie is still working on it, although I didn’t expect her to be done with it by then, and I head towards the bale. And bawling his way towards me comes Hermie (yes, named after those little caterpillars with Max Lucado, Hermie and Wormie), our steer for the year, wanting his grain.

I had forgotten all about him. So off we go home, me leading and Hermie quickly following. I give him his grain and start on the sheep. Then Mom drives me over to the horses over at our pasture on Wall Road (yes, there is a difference between ‘Road’ and ‘Street’. :). I get out in the pasture, checking the bale, and boom!! Out of nowhere, it starts pouring rain. It wasn’t raining before!! It hadn’t rained for about an hour!!! But no, as soon as I could get as far away from my coat as possible…it started raining and I am totally soaked through.

We get back and Grandpa decides, after checking the weather and seeing that it will get below freezing tonight, that we need to bring Whitie’s calf in.

We have this little sled that we tie a small plastic water trough on top to drag calves home in. Grandpa took the tractor, Mom rode Morgan, and I, being the small, agile, swift 15 year old, get to ride in the sled.

We go back to find a small, adorable white calf shivering in the wind.  (I wasn’t that far way from that myself. It was continuing to rain on us and the water was soaking more and more into my jacket.) Grandpa stopped the tractor, Mom jumped off Morgan, and I slid out of the water trough to help catch him. He didn’t run off or anything, so that was pretty easy. We carried him to the trough (they are heavier than they look) and slipped him inside. I took a seat with him and started rubbing while Grandpa started up the tractor. Whitie followed directly behind, sniffing her calf, double checking to make sure he was ok.

I was rubbing and thinking. Last summer, I got between a white cow and her calf…and the situation ended with me jumping on the fence as she made sure I got out of her way. Now I look up and there is a white cow’s head less than five inches away from mine.

Boy, I was hoping that the cow that dove at me was the one we sold this summer!!

We got to the barn, lugged the water trough in the pen, and worked the calf out. We sprayed his navel and tossed down some hay. By then…there was not a dry patch on any of us.

The truck was backed in and Mom and I went inside for supper and Grandpa went home.

All that happened from 3:30 P.M. to about 6:30 P.M. Three hours. 🙂

I love my life.


8 thoughts on “D is for Darling Calves”

  1. Wow! That is some impressive work for a 15 year old! I call myself a fake farmer, because we raise layer chickens and feeder pigs. I didn’t grow up with animals and am basically learning as I go.
    My brother and his wife are real farmers, raising cows, sheep, ducks, rabbits, chickens, and turkeys for meat and horses for fun. There is nothing cuter than a baby, human or animal. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Have you ever seen the sign that says something like ,” if you ate today thank a farmer”? That’s you. Even if it’s just pigs and chickens. My mom was a city girl who married a cowboy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you…but I really don’t call it work. It’s just too fun. 🙂 Feeder pigs?? Awesome. How many do you have? Do you yourself eat them or are you going to sell them? My mom would love to get started on them.

    And I agree, there is nothing cuter than a baby. 🙂


    1. We usually get 4 feeder pigs each year. Most years, only 3 make it to butcher day. There is always some odd problem we couldn’t have predicted that takes one. We sell 1-2 of the hogs and keep the rest for our family.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reminds me of when I worked with a large herd of Fresians, who calved in -luxury you think, till you climb into a pen and the cow gives you that look and the head goes down, about the only time in my life I’ve ever jumped about six feet off the ground and she still tore my jeans!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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