Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ranch Life

We have had one of those ranch disasters. It happens on most ranches and is sometimes simply unavoidable.

My husband checks cows at least two times a day when the cows are calving. He likes to sit and watch them and immediately notices anything out of the ordinary. Today he noticed that one of the calves was very thin and weak. This means that it is sick or that the mother is not letting it eat. Yes, there are bad cow mothers and we boot them out of herd because the cost money and never seem to get over it. They also don't raise as good a calf and this costs when it comes time to sell calves in the fall. (for those of you unfamiliar with ranch life, it is a business and like any business you have to have to profit to stay in business)

What Joe saw was that the cow was only letting the calf such from the back and then not for long. He caught the calf, loaded it up on the ATV across his knees and put in a pen by the barn. He then told me to go feed it. The calf peed all over him on the way in from the pasture. (oh, he was a happy camper, LOL)

This baby was dehydrated and scared. Remember that scared part. I sure do. This is about an 80 pound calf, I can just straddle it's back. Now mixing the milk is the easy part. It kind of goes downhill from there. Even in as bad of shape as this baby is, it is still pretty lively.

I got a piece of the little rascal several times. Each time I touched it, the calf would beller. If you are out in the pasture and this happens you will have the whole herd breathing down your back in short order. (not a good feeling I can tell you, but sure scares the predators off)

I finally get one arm wrapped around his middle as he flashes past, so we are now in the ground rolling around. Now I have only one arm available to get control of this calf. The other hand has a bottle full of milk that I am trying to keep upright so the milk doesn't run out. (and I am old and fat and slow to cap it off) There is dirt flying and I am desperate to get my legs over his back, get him up and backed into a corner. Finally I am in position to try to feed him. The calf's rear is in a corner of the pen, I have his head between my legs and my left hand under his jaw.

Now I get a little milk on the nipple to make it taste like milk, dribble a little milk down the front of his nose and over his lips so he will lick that warm milk and want more. (at least that is the idea) Next I stick my finger in his mouth and open it just enough to get the nipple of the bottle in. I hold his mouth lightly shut with my left hand and pull and push that bottle in and out of his mouth simulating him sucking on the teat of the cow. Small amounts of milk get in the calves mouth and hurrah, after about five minutes he begins to suck.

During all of this my husband is out in the pasture trying to get the cow in so we can educate her on motherhood. She is one of those contrary animals the just goes crazy and runs into the pickup breaking her leg. We had to put her down. It is very sad. They don't know that we want to help them. This baby will survive because my husband is very observant and I am a good calf momma when I have to be. Just a few more feedings and the little rascal will be sucking my pants as I try to leave the pen after each feeding.

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