Friday, March 18, 2011

Holy Flying Cow Shit Batman!

Thursday was an exciting day on the ranch. After our usual morning feeding, Papa D and  I worked on some stories for the publication. We made some phone calls to get some information, and then were to set to work writing up some stories.

I had just gotten set up in the dining room with my laptop and a cup of hot chocolate when K came out of the mud room with binoculars saying that it looks like one of the heifers had a calf. She was also thinking that same heifer had something else hanging out her back end, and was wondering if it might just be another calf. Not very long after that, she ran into her bedroom saying that heifer she'd been watching looks to have had a second calf, as she was changing back into her dirty clothes. Prior to all of this happening, when she was only supposing that heifer might have twins, we discussed this. Since the calving season started, they've lost two calves (my grandparents suppose the severe weather we're having to be at least part of the problem), and one of those calves was just yesterday. If this one heifer was having twins, they would try to take one of the calves and put it with the heifer that had lost her calf the day before, and hopefully the heifer would accept this second calf.

Well, when she realized that the heifer was indeed having twins, I asked if she needed help, and she said "yeah!". I had to borrow a pair of rubber boots that were at least half a size too small as my nice insulated muck boots were at my place. We took an ATV and headed out. A good rule of thumb while riding an ATV on a ranch - keep your mouth shut. Seriously. Flying mud and cow shit galore.

We get out there and sure enough, there are two calves with this particular heifer. One was attempting to nurse and the other was still sopping wet on the ground trying to stand. K turned over the ATV to me and she picked up the calf and held it to the "back seat" of the ATV and walked next to me, keeping the calf behind me. We did this all the way back up to the big barn. K carried the newborn into the big barn, which has a huge step up into it. As she put one foot up on the step, she hollers to me "On three push up on my butt!" Well, it is a big step, and she was carrying a 60-something lb calf.

The barn is set up for issues such as this. Either bottle feeding calves or to try to put a calf on a cow that has recently lost a calf - which the latter is what we were trying to do. We put the calf (a little girl) in a small pen, where it tried to stand up. If you've never witnessed a newborn four-legged critter try to stand, it's adorable and heart-wrenching. Luckily, this little calf had a lot of spunk and was trying very hard - sometimes succeeding and sometimes not. 

I actually recorded a 2 minute video on my cell phone, but I can't locate my USB cord for my phone, and it's too large a file to send to myself. So, if you hold tight, there will be a video uploaded of this little girl learning how to stand and walk and being only about an hour old. But this video will have to wait until next weekend when I can borrow my mom's USB cord.

Anyway, we went back to the house for lunch and waited for K's brother to arrive to help us out with the other project: getting the heifer separated that we needed (the one that had lost her calf and is now wanted to be this girl's surrogate).

We took the ATV's out and put a bale of hay on the flatbed truck and went out to attempt to get Miss Surrogate up to the barn. Mind you, the mud is still a minimum of a foot deep. Probably closer to two feet. At least in some places. We basically played "Catch the cow" on ATV's. The cows would start to follow the hay truck back towards the main gate, and then Miss Surrogate would freak out and start running somewhere else, and because cows are herd animals, the others would follow. K and I kept running circles and serpentines around cows trying to get Miss Surrogate to go where we wanted her to go.

My arms are quite sore from this little escapade.

We had mud and cow shit flying everywhere from the wheels of the ATV's. Luckily none of it decided to smack me in the face, but it did get all over my boots, in my hair, on the hood of my sweater, and of course, all over my jacket and gloves.

We finally got a small group of cows to head to the main gate, Miss Surrogate with them. We managed to get them gated in an area near where we keep the feed trucks. We then needed to separate Miss Surrogate from the others into a set of pens that would eventually lead to the big barn. We managed to do that, while keeping the other cows penned.  K and her brother went on to get Miss Surrogate into the barn and into a head catch to try to get the calf to nurse.

All that remained was putting Miss Surrogate's friends back in their pasture, which was actually done with ease. I'm just glad K and I didn't have to chase them in two foot deep mud. Because I'm pretty sure that would have ended badly.

By the time Friday morning rolled around, the calf was nursing on Miss Surrogate. They'll be left in the barn for a few days to continue bonding before being taken back to the rest of the Spring herd.


  1. That is awesome! It's like an old cattle drive, minus the horses and the sexiness but plus the heart of the matter. :)

  2. Wonderful story. I'm happy for the surrogate, I'm sure she loves having a baby. My goodness, you sure get dirty on a farm!

  3. Yay! I love a happy ending. The calf is adorable. ...You are really taking well to the ranch lifestyle. Have a great weekend!!

  4. What a great story! Do cows have twins often? So glad to hear that the calf and Miss Surrogate took to each other. Keep us updated!

  5. Krissy - lol It was fun running around on the ATV's though, flying cow shit and all!

    Belle - Oh yes, you do! And my grandmother was even dirtier because she lifted the still wet calf. I mean, that cow had just been born! lol

    Empress - I'm trying to anyway! And the happy endings make the hard dirty work worth it. :o)

  6. Awwww, how sweet. Love happy endings and I bet a nice hot bath was required after.

  7. Great post, thanks for sharing. Looking forward for the video.

  8. Mynx - A hot shower took place that evening. lol

    Texas - Thanks! And thanks for stopping by!

  9. Soapbox - Cows can have twins, its usually not a big problem. They will typically grow up smaller than the single calves, as one mother usually supports them both. Twins was fortunate in this case as they are down only one calf instead of two, and now the twins can each have their "own" mom, and can grow to their full potential. :o)


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