Do I miss calving?
Wood Lake, Neb.
Once in a while I am asked if I miss calving. Well … yes I do: You don’t do something for many years, something that has been a big part of your life, without missing it when you stop doing it.
I miss riding through the expectant mothers and sorting out the ones who need to be in calving lot.
I miss going through the calving lot on a warm day, staying discretely back while a cow is in the process of giving birth, then checking to see if the calf is alright and can get air.
I miss riding through the cows and calves and seeing the healthy little ones sprawled out on a hillside soaking up sunshine.
I miss being an object to investigate to little calves. If I stood in one spot, without moving, for a while I would be surrounded by a bunch of inquisitive calves. Their curiosity overcoming their suspicion, they would work closer until one would try a tentative lick.
And I even miss helping a young cow with her birthing and seeing a healthy calf get wobbly to its feet, start hunting the milk faucet and begin nursing.
I don’t really miss it, but didn’t mind the nights I spent sleeping on the couch, in my clothes, because it was easier getting up and going out, several times a night to check cows if I didn’t have to get dressed.
I do not miss at all the bad parts of calving, the difficult late night delivery when, after a hard pull, a dead calf was born. A cow that would not accept her calf, butting it as it tried getting to its feet, the cow with sore teats kicking her calf away as it tried to nurse. Or the cow that was absolutely certain that another cow’s calf belonged to her.
I don’t miss, uncoated on a cold midnight, trying to put back in a cow what belongs in a cow, which was expelled with her newborn calf.
I don’t miss calving in a blizzard when the barn was full and I had to be checking those outside constantly.
I don’t miss sickness taking hold of the little calves, sickness that often claimed lives, that usually depended on the duration. That is a time when you are run ragged doing all you can to save them.
All in all the good things about calving outweigh the bad and I do miss it. Once in a while I get the inclination I would like to be doing that again. It doesn’t take long to talk myself out of that notion though.
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