Making New Friends

Every year, post-weaning, I end up with a pen full of young heifer calves. These are the gals that didn’t go to market a couple weeks ago along with their brothers, the steers.

In this pen will be a few select girls that we keep to stay with us to grow up quiet and healthy and become momma cows amongst the rest of the herd.

The quiet part starts with me. Part of my daily tasks are to walk amongst them numerous times a day and get them used to me (and the dogs) and carry on quiet conversation and just general strolling around. The ones that already come up to me get added to my ongoing list of “Flicka Rancher Keepers” that I keep available in my smart phone tucked away in the pocket of my coveralls…always handy actually for snapping these pics and videos and posting to the blog on-the-fly.

I fear that list will probably end up including all of them because I can tell already they want to be friends.

Weaning Day

My least favorite day of the year. We weaned the calves today…the racous, noisy, stress-filled day when we separate the young un’s from their mommas. To clarify, after helping hubby roundup our herd this morning I sort of got the day “off” from corral duty thanks to my wonderful step-children and “they” weaned the calves. The three of them showed up in full force to help us today…just like the good old days.

So I was quite happy to give up my position and prepare them a warm ranch-worker-meal complete with ranch-style-potatoes…just like the good old days when they were younger and around the ranch more often.

The male (steer) calves were loaded up and taken to the auction market by hubby before sunset and behind him remains myself and 200 bawling mother cows milling about the pen where the heifer calves now reside after being pulled from their moms. Of course those heifer calves are bawling too and looking for escape holes to get back to mom. It’s a very noisy place right now.

But, quite predictably, the bawling will stop within three days. Every single year and probably every single ranch experiences this predictable behavior. But for now it sounds like this….turn up your volume!

The Winter Vigil

It begins today…first day after a crazy busy challenging-weather type of weekend of rounding-up, sorting, loading and trailering ALL our pasturing critters home.

Subsequently my vigil of watching over them and waterers and heaters and fencelines and gates(of course), officially begins today. With hubby away trucking during the week I find myself with the luxury of being in control of the chore schedule. Nothing finer than being the “one in charge”.

Sure, it’s all fine when every thing is working and every one is behaving. Here’s to smooth days ahead…and if not so smooth, then here’s to some stories and tales to tell!!

Troublemakers

I have enough going on around the ranch that I don’t need fence crawlers to be occupying my time. Thought if I gave these young calves a bit of a chase back to their proper field it might discourage their delinquent behaviour.

This video was a few days ago and I haven’t had any mischief such as this since! And yes, looks like I have a bit of fencing repair on my plate now.

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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My Project

Back in the archives of this blog is a story titled “Gentle Assist” (April 14,2015). It’s about our blind calf from cow #8U and how we gently assisted him to find his mom to suckle in his early days of existence. Well the “little” fella has thrived over the past eight months. Living close to home and to us to keep a watchful eye has provided him a fairly pampered life. Turns out he and his mom did quite well finding each other in the fields of our home. He would sniff her out quite well while they lived in a pen together and as he grew older we found he could roam around our pastures and she would always seek him out for his daily feed.
But the day came to wean him and now he’s ” my project”. Every single year, it seems, I get a “project” amongst our calves. A “project” means a cripple or disabled critter of some sort or another. So 8U’s calf (known as Ugo) now resides in his very own pen which used to be home for the kids’ 4-H calves, complete with shelter, straw bedding, hay and chop hand-delivered throughout the day and two visits from me with water from the pail. As soon as he feels my hand by his mouth he knows the pail of water is next. Weaning hasn’t been stressful for him at all. Being disabled for this little hombre has turned into a delightful life experience.
I figure this special treatment is the least I can do for him before he ends up in our freezer. Because, sadly, that’s where he’s bound. His condition will not favour us in the sales ring but he’ll certainly help us out in the grocery department.

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