Calving Capers 11

The day has settled down

The night is still

There are no winds, not even a breeze

Hubby is sleeping until his 2AM shift

The world is mine on the ranch

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Out in the darkness a cow will moan in search of her calf. The calf will reply with a soft cry of his own.

Silence returns

They have found each other once again

 

THIS is my favourite part of calving…the Midnight Shift – My Shift

The stars, the moon, my cows at rest … my world

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Calving Capers 10

Our 3W cow has had a pretty tough calving season so far. At the outset she delivered a set of premature breech twins – well, hubby had to certainly help her along on that. Sadly the first twin out was deceased and the second little fella just took forever to “spunk up”.

His first few days of life were spent inside our cozy barn and then in the “executive suite ” pen….the very same one where my pampered blind calf Ugo used to reside. I came to call his subsequent environments “Wayne’s World” and he then became “Little Wayne” to me.

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So Little Wayne would sleep in the straw in a corner in the pen day in and day out. I would bring his mom 3W in at night and let her out in the morning and Wayne would muster enough energy to get up and suck for awhile.

That was pretty much his exciting life and routine until I went away for a few days on the conference and I got the news that Little Wayne had died while I was away. I pretty much knew he wouldn’t make it. Being a premature calf and a lonely twin, the odds were stacked against him.

So this week the oddest thing happened. I happened to be walking in the pen where 3W was feeding and she looked up at me with such a “look”- hard to describe. The oddest thing was she then started to follow me around the corral. I realized that this was the first time she had really seen me since losing her Little Wayne and she may have thought perhaps I would take her to him once again just like I always used to do.

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Well of course this kind of thing has a way of breaking my heart. I put too much human emotion into the lifestyles of our cows and I think it costs us some extra energy – that which we have little to spare these days at full-bore calving! However, this behaviour encouraged both hubby and myself that perhaps she was able to take on a recently born twin, in essence to replace her Little Wayne and take the load off the other twin mom cow and ultimately keep her a productive member of the herd.

So we are now in the process of attempting this “transplanting” activity, to turn 3W into the adoptive mother of Little Wayne. It requires separating the “new” twin from his original family but luckily we have another fella living in the barn to keep him company.

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Calving Capers 9

img_20160329_185249.jpg The Hyatt Regency – my home away from home for a couple days this week as I attended the Advancing Women Conference. Country girl in the big city whilst calving capers continued to carry on back home on the ranch – and with a vengeance.  The calf count went up considerably in my absence!

I was fortunate  to travel to Calgary and network with other women in agriculture as we gathered to listen and learn from some amazing gals in the industry.

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The very best thing about a conference like this is the opportunity to meet new people and develop that very social skill called “networking”…always my favourite part. Thanks to Tamara, Elan and Christen – three fun and warm-hearted girls from Saskatchewan that I met for the first time – for a fun evening enhanced by a little wine and calamari.

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Calving Capers 8

What happens, more often than not, during springtime on the ranch in the early stages of calving is – a winter storm. We just departed from probably the mildest winter in decades to be greeted, on the second day of spring with a blizzard.
Also, what happens, more often than not, a blizzard-y storm brings on the birthing! Our heifers started to calve one after the other. Between hubby and myself we were getting up to check the herds every two hours.
We are so fortunate to have a big old hip-roof barn for shelter and warmth for the critters and their babes. It doesn’t take long, however, to fill it up when these girls just keep dropping their calves! We are at full capacity!

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My heart goes out to these young females, on a good day, when they experience motherhood for the first time. Throw in this nastiest of nasty weather to compound their new adventure – all I can say is….it builds character! For animal and human alike! So far we are very gratified to see they have taken to their calf almost immediately and become the strong, quiet mothers we have raised them to be.

This gal was so quiet in fact that we were able to pull her calf right in the barn pen where she lay. Here you go….freshly pulled!

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Calving Capers 7

Recent events have resulted in bringing our cows in from the field this week…TEN days early. Our official calving start date was “calculated” to commence March 26. Wellll, as I started to say…recent events have encouraged us – most strongly – to bring them home within eyesight and a close by stroll from the house.
So this is my new view from the kitchen window. Suits me just fine. It has been a chilly few days, during the snow squalls and winds, riding the quad out to the far field to check on these girls.

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“The Watch” is now underway. Flicka Rancher does the midnight check as I am the night owl and like the quiet evening hours to tackle the paperwork projects back inside until it’s my turn to head out. Then hubby checks whilst I sleep…..but the deal is….if there is a hint of trouble….I am to be rousted from said slumber!
And so…it begins…

Calving Capers 6

Another part of preparing for the spring calving season is to have the freezer full of homemade muffins and make-ahead-casseroles. I’m behind on the casserole category but the muffin mission has been satisfactory.

Looking forward to spending as little time as possible in the kitchen in the days ahead. My preference is to be out in the corrals, fields or barn and helping our new little critters start their lives with us on the ranch.

Calving Capers 5

Flicka Rancher is the farthest thing from being a rancher this week. I find myself in the big city 150KM away staying with my mom and helping her start the process of packing up a lifetime of 45+ years in our family home. She is moving to an assisted living complex where she will have a lovely two bedroom suite on the fourth floor, freedom from meal preparation and no more house and yard maintenance to endure in our challenging changing Alberta seasons.The mission is to get everything done before calving season – according to my husband who has been most supportive in holding down the fort and chores on his own as I tend to family duties beyond the ranch.

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Mom and I are having a truly special few days of, not only packing-purging and accomplishing but that of reminiscing-laughing-crying and sharing.

 

 

Calving Capers 4

Calving Capers is pretty tame right now as we are in the preparation stage and carrying on with our day to day routine. Filling, packing and feeding 100 chop pails daily, feeding bales and bedding pens with straw every second day or so. Add the calving escapades to this in a few weeks time and we are going to be “occupied”!
During this relative calm I have the opportunity to introduce the final cast member in my pen of Calving Capers Characters.  Meet my fancy heifer… Shirley Temple…[17B]…note the “blonde” and “curly”….

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I picked her out as a “keeper” shortly after she was born two years ago.

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Even then she had that blond and curly look. To my mind, it’s neat to have a few unique looking animals in our herd. My husband concentrates on the all red look and admittedly it sure does make a big herd look lovely and uniform out there in the pasture. Thankfully, I’m “allowed” to identify and keep a few characters that I like the look of. I trust pretty Shirley Temple will deliver some fancy calves of her own

We have oh so many more “personalities” in our herd, but the animals with a story have been introduced over the past three weeks. They will earn a special watchful eye and attention from this blog-writer.
For now, my husband and I need to stay healthy, store up on sleep and carry on our diligence to care for these precious animals that we are stewards over.
The night-time watches are coming up real soon!!

Calving Capers Episode 3

One of my favorite cows is Vanilla Dip, aptly named in reference to her white-tipped nose which looks like it was dipped in vanilla ice cream. She has provided us a nice mix of female and male calves over the past few years. It is actually Vanilla Dip and 3B, as mother and baby calf, that I chose to introduce my blog-posting feature series back on Jan 27. They are also the pair on my Calf Count image on the sidebar to my blog.

The girl she had two years ago is 3B the next in my cast of Calving Capers characters….an aspiring young bred heifer.

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Unbelievably, she is almost two years old, about to deliver her first calf, and she still doesn’t have a name! Perhaps my blog readers have a suggestion or two…if so, please feel free to share in a friendly comment.
I look forward to seeing her progeny as her mother has such a nice temperament and so far, 3B is turning out to be the same. We love to keep the quiet ones around, so if she stays with the herd she most certainly needs an imaginative name.

Calving Capers Episode 2

We experienced a sad and disappointing occurrence this past week. One of our fine young bred heifers aborted her calf almost two months early. She may have been bumped or fell on the terrible icy surfaces we are beleaguered with this winter to trigger this loss.
It was a female calf which makes it worse as she would have been a gal we could have kept in the herd.
And to top it all off, making it doubly worse, this was Suzy Q’s first calf!

What makes me extra sad is that she always returns to the same spot on the straw bed where she dropped her calf. This is where I took her picture.

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This was not the way I wished to introduce the next character in Calving Capers, our dear Suzy Q [40B], the one and only daughter of our dearly departed Trixie, featured last year in this blog.
Thankfully though, Suzy Q will “be allowed” to stay in the herd and get to try again. In the meantime she’s going to have a pretty easy year just grazing and keeping all the nutrients to herself. She’s a lovely heifer with a chance to be our superstar next year!