At Home on the Range: Calving … just another form of glue
by Jody White
Doing things as a family is one of the many kinds of glue that holds a family together. That’s why calving is so good for “family togetherness.” Right? I figure if you don’t kill each other somewhere between the first heifer and the last cow that calves, the experience can only bring you closer together. And if it doesn’t bring you closer together, it at least makes you appreciate the presence of another body to take a turn at checking heifers, sort heavies, help get dumb calves to suck or plug a hole in the gate.
What lasting memories are made during this time of the year. Personally I can’t think of another time (with the exception of the Christmas season) that has left me with so many memorable moments with my family, or of my family. Good memories, bad memories, it’s all relative. Can anything compare to the manure, blood, slime, all the frozen containers of colostrum taking up freezer space or the perpetual case of the “grouchys” that seems to infect everyone this time of year? Just to name a few things … I think not!
Just this morning I had one of those bonding times with my son,Coby. We are down to the final few heifers left to calve, and wouldn’t you know it, one of them had to go and have trouble. I could tell by the look on Coby’s face that this wasn’t just ordinary trouble, as in the calf was a little big or maybe backwards.
“Breech,” he groaned. Inwardly I groaned, and the heifer groaned. The calf was coming tail first with its back legs twisted underneath itself. Coby had just about disappeared inside the cow trying to push the calf forward while attempting to pull the legs up one at a time. He was covered in all kinds of slimy uck and goo. I was starting to fell just the tiniest bit queasy, and I’m known as the woman with the iron stomach! To add insult to injury the heifer had whipped her tail around with such rapidity before I could get a hold of it that she had slapped us both a few times across the head, streaking our hair and face with manure. We looked like we were wearing green war paint.
Coby was fast becoming a contortionist, doing everything but standing on his head trying to get and keep a hold of a foot. He finally got one but couldn’t quite seem to get the other one. I don’t know who was the most tired ” the heifer or Coby. Judging by the look on his face I knew it was better just to keep quiet (over the years I have become very adept at judging looks on faces, especially at calving).
I kept thinking Butch would show up, or maybe Joel, who was staying with us for a couple of week, or a neighbor … anyone! I would have taken the “Schwans” man at that point, if he was willing to volunteer his arm, because I think the circulation was gone in Coby’s.
Just when I had about given up Coby grinned and pulled out the other foot. I wanted to pat him on the back, jump up and down, yell “hurray” and kiss the heifer, but I didn’t because he just about knocked me unconscious with the pullers.
“Just another memory maker,” I thought to myself as I rubbed the back of my head.
We hooked the chains onto the puller and went to pumping iron. And as we gathered up everything and turned to walk out of the stall, I slipped on some afterbirth and fell flat on my back.
“Will this day never end?” I yelled.
“Mom,” Coby said quietly, “it’s only 9:30!”
Yes, memories are made of this.
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I have been rather preoccupied lately and haven’t been writing my editor’s note. So, for those who have called and emailed to make sure I’m still on this Earth, I’m still here.