I haven’t been posting very regular lately due to business that must be taken care of during this time of year. Its hard to find writing time when responsibilities just seem to pile up. Things are starting to slow a bit, and the weather has finally improved, so I thought I would post a few pics of what has been keeping me busy. Yes it is calving season, and yes, the weather has not been co-operative in that endeavour. Now I don’t have very many of these t-bone production units, but even having a few cows to look after when the weather is so cold means one has to stay vigilant. Many beef producers(with large calving barns) plan their calving in January, so the calves have maximum selling weight in the fall. Calving in January outdoors (in this country) is brutal. I had hoped that April would have been a tad warmer but it was not to be; global warming my frostbitten backside!
One of my calves was a little retarded at birth and I had to teach it how to suck, even had to help it find mamma’s teat. He’s a big guy and may have spent too much time in the birth canal and didn’t get the blood supply to his brain while traversing his way into the world. The operation involves getting mama cow in a squeeze then carrying the moron to the lunch counter and helping him find the spigot. If you have never tried to do this let me tell you it takes all the patience you have not to whack the calf on the head and eat veal for a week. They are dumb, but oh so obstinate! You push them forward, they back up. You push their head down to the teats, they throw their head up. You get the teat in their mouth they spit it out and suck mamma’s hair! arrrrrg! Finally, after many attempts (while your brain processes those veal recipes) he gets it right and settles in to feed, his tail switching with contentment. This process must be done a few times till he gets enough nourishment to have a functioning brain.
Going out to look at your own herd of cows can be quite addictive, I mean your checking on them to see if any are going to calve out, their feed and water is good, etc; but you end up just watching them for the sheer pleasure and contentment of it. The older calves running, playing and exploring and the younger calves still tottering close to mamma. The interaction between the older members and newcomers in the herd is fascinating, if one takes the time to stop and watch them. I remember when I was a little boy, out with my Grandpa while visiting the farm, riding in the old truck checking cattle. We would stop near the herd and Papa would light up a smoke and just watch. I always wondered what he was looking for (he was all farmer, but no talker), I imagined that he must have a wise reason to study his herd and was analyzing that data to come to a conclusion of sorts. Finally I would ask, “Papa, what are you looking for?” He would turn and look at me as if he had forgotten I was in the the truck and say; “Oh; just lookin’ at em” where upon he would swivel back to studying the cows and smoking. I always thought that we were out there for an important reason, that studying cattle was a special skill that Papa just couldn’t articulate. I think I understand now, it is important to check your cows during a cold and snowy calving season. As the weather warms up, however, I find myself out there more and more; just lookin’ at em.