Situation

Over the past twenty-plus years raising cattle and handling animals, my husband and I have developed a code word of sorts when things have, or will, or might – go horribly wrong. We call it a situation and both of us better be paying attention.

One most memorable adventure was probably the advent of this code word about 12 years ago. It was during calving season. It was a dark and stormy night. We had a heifer calving too long and subsequently needed our help. We needed to get her into the barn into the headgate where we could all be safe. But she went rogue on us as soon as she entered the supposedly secure environment of the barn.

Of course she did! She was a heifer! First calving experience, first time inside the barn and two humans poking and prodding her already stressed-out-self. By rogue, I mean she charged us both within seconds! Headed me up the steep stairs of the barn loft and my nimble hubby onto the top rung of the pen panel.

As she continued to roar, push and beller, we looked at each other from across the barn on our respective precarious perches with her between us in the throes of mid-calf distress and trauma and hubby could only gasp….

“What a situation”

We chuckle about it now and even did so then (nervously so). It was the type of predicament we honestly couldn’t see ourselves getting out of at the time. I can’t seem to recall how we were able to get her secured…we must have simply tuckered her out eventually and managed to pull her calf successfully. What I do recall vividly though is the incredulous look on my hubby’s face and the sound of his subdued voice as he declared our situation from the top of that pen.

From that day on whatever we define a “situation” has definitely got our respect, attention and wariness.

When We Get Quiet

Sometimes things go horribly wrong and despite our valiant and often heroic efforts we simply can’t save a calf or a cow in distress.

I used to cry and mope around for a day when we’d suffer a loss. My hubby would just get quiet. And now too, after 20 years of this lifestyle, I have learned to just get quiet.

It’s the best way we can mourn and collect our thoughts to be maybe better prepared the next time or if not our fault, to help us to “cowboy/cowgirl up” and concentrate on the rest of our herd and responsibilities that never end. We get tougher on the outside…but “the quiet” keeps us soft and caring on the inside.

Twin Tales

Ahhhhhh…always a joyous sight to come across a cow who has just delivered twins. Lively twins too and up and ready to suck right away. Sure makes up for the drama and losses of last week when we were just getting underway with this season.

The weather forecast for tonight however, alerts us of snow to come so we decided these little treasures would be best off in the barn tonight.

How do we do that? The hubby lifts them up into the back of our ATV and FlickaRancher sits on ’em (gently, I do!) all the way to the barn. Good thing we’re into the end of the cold season because those two little poopers sure messed up my gloves!

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Next we walk momma from the field through the muddy corrals right to the barn where she can sense her little ones are near. She was very willing to be guided….didn’t even mind the pooch close to her heels. She just wants her babies!!

And they wait patiently cuddled together just inside….not so sure of what-on-earth happened to them.

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Scooped off the lovely straw bed, basking in the spring sun and temporarily snatched from momma, sat on by a two-legged human in a noisy machine, bounced over the choppy frozen terrain to be unceremoniously plopped into a big old barn. Momma looks at me as if to say…….”After all this “well-meaning” human intervention…it better snow tonight!!”

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Delia

There is a character amongst our D heifers (the girls born in 2016). I named her Delia last year. She was headed for the sell group ( of my hubby’s choosing) and I could never understand why. She has always been quiet and friendly and the color red he always normally chooses. So it baffled me that she was ” marked ” as a “sell” while I had her at the top of my “keep” list.

Well, I’m happy to say that I scored a win last year. Just before we loaded all those young gals in the truck little Delia must have looked at Mr Berg just the right way because here she remains on our ranch amongst her other “D” sisters and has become quite the pet for both of us. She has been known to share a sip with my fella from time to time….

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…as well as follow us around in the pen and even nudge us in the butt if we aren’t opening a gate quick enough to her liking.

Needless to say I will be anxious to see what she brings us this first year as a new mom. Would love to have more quiet, friendly daughters from her to “remain on the ranch”!

Calving Capers 2018

The days are drawing near whereby the calves will soon begin to come on our ranch. Each year as we personally get a little more advanced along the timeline of life we push out our calving start date later and later – in hopes that weather will be warmer and more favourable. In hopes that we will rule out the spring storms. In hopes that we can make our calving season a little more graceful on our aging bones and ligaments.

As I write tonight, we are experiencing the usual wet snows that start and stop day in and day out and frustrate our efforts to put out straw bedding for the cows comfort along with some other minor frustrations. But these are small inconveniences in the overall scheme of things because we value the beautiful moisture these types of snows provide. All I can think is how green our pastures can be if this keeps up.

As the calving season approaches we make sure to walk amongst our herd and in particular our group of heifers – the gals with the letter “D” tags – born in 2016. We want them to be as used to our presence as much as possible so we can safely move amongst them if they need our assistance during this new adventure about to enter their lives. Ideally, we trust we have made the proper bull choice and the deliveries will come naturally and without incident. But until then we stroll amongst the girls.

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Hard to believe but for all intents and purposes our “calving season/calving capers” has wound down to this handful of faithful cows due any day now. We don’t need to check on them every two hours as had been the case during the beginning weeks of our adventures. We are content now to let these girls do it on their own. After all, they’ve done so successfully for many years now.

I did however have a little short-lived excitement this week when hubby brought in Dilbert from the field. From the slough actually, which is where he had been lying in. He couldn’t stand up and his mother was certainly not able to assist.

Dilbert has been “slow” from the start. He is “different”. He has small eyes and big dumbo-elephant-like ears and it took quite awhile before he took to naturally feeding from his momma. We’re not sure what set him back on this day to be stuck in the slough but whatever the reason, I was ready with the bottle and nursette and ultimately to be his caregiver. There hasn’t been a year yet that I haven’t had some little character to fuss over.

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But this episode turned out to be short-lived. I guess it was my few hours of TLC that encouraged him there was hope to carry on. By the end of the day he was standing on his own and able to navigate, albeit unsteadily, around the pen. By morning, I was out of a job and he was happily reunited with his momma…health returned.

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Thankfully, hubby agrees that we should keep Dilbert and his mom close to home this year instead of the pasture. After all, he’s a little bit slow and he just might need me yet!

 

 

 

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Calving itself has it’s own level of stressors and concerns but I find that the “harder” part of calving and raising cattle is keeping the little critters healthy, thriving and ultimately alive! 

This little gal [ears drooping, lethargic, barely able to keep up to mom] needed to be brought closer to home for treatment. Yes, we care for our sick animals with proper medicinal intervention and close observation throughout. To my mind, this is humane treatment of the animals in our care who depend on us for their well-being. I would much rather provide effective antibiotic medicine and see our little calves return to their energetic selves within a few days than have them needlessly suffering and dying in misery in the fields.