At Home on the Range: Calving is upon us: let the festivities commence!
by Jody White
Calving is upon us, and with it, all the joys and delights of the season. Night checks, barn patrol, the collecting of colostrum for freezing, afterbirth, scours, poor nutritional intake (human not bovine), mean cows, dumb calves, and to top everything off … sheer exhaustion, just to name a few. I am so excited with such fun things to look forward to. And, yes, we have officially started calving, with the first calf coming into this world on a cold, windy Sandhill’s winter night. The heifers weren’t supposed to officially start calving yet. But do they listen? No. But I guess when the barometer drops things start to happen.
Were we ready? Kinda, sorta! But then are you ever completely ready? Personally I don’t think so. But, as we all know, after the arrival of that first calf you get ready fast! I happened to start things off with a bang ” make that thud.
There was only a few jobs left to make the barn calf ready, so I tied into one of them this morning. I finished cleaning out the stall that had accumulated everything that nobody seemed to know what to do with after putting the big sheds in order last summer. All I had left in the stall was six bundles of burlap and plastic sacks to be thrown up into the rafters by somebody, I was hoping, other then me! But, you know that “Little Red Hen syndrome” that dwells in most of us ladies? It surfaced one more time. And I found myself saying … “I guess I’ll just have to do it myself!”
I located a ladder and started hauling a bundle at a time up the ladder and then tried to toss them over a bunch of junk, further into the rafters. Do you have any idea how hard that is to do? By the third bundle, my hair and eyes were filled with little pieces of dirt and I don’t know what else. And I had just the slightest foreboding that there might have been little creepy-crawly things in some of those sacks, and that most of them now resided in my hair! I think I was too preoccupied with shaking and scratching my head to notice that the ladder was starting to teeter. And teeter it did. Matter of fact if just flat fell over while I was in the middle of doing the heebie jeebies. How I ever had the presence of mind to grab for the rafters I don’t know, because I’m not usually that together or coordinated.
And while I was hanging there, hoping against hope, and praying, but without much faith, that someone would come in and rescue me, a picture of our little friend, Elsie, came to mind. Precious little 4-foot-11-inch Elsie. Sweet, soft-spoken little Elsie who on one very cold calving night years ago was left huddled in the rafters of the barn in her nightgown, coat and overshoes from 2 o’clock in the morning until almost 6, out of reach of a heifer gone ballistic. Needless to say when they finally got her down from the rafters, sweet little Elsie wasn’t so sweet.
With that image in my mind I dropped with a thud, grateful for a change for the little extra padding I’d added on through the winter. My head hurt, my teeth hurt, my neck hurt, and my butt hurt. And wouldn’t you know it, while was still sitting in the sand trying to shake the cobwebs out, one of the guys showed up and asked, “Can I help you?” Isn’t that just typical?
So am I ready for what’s ahead? You bet. The only way calving is going to get over is to start! Right?
So yes, I say let the festivities commence!