Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 4-15-13 |

Shelli Mader: Road to Ranching 4-15-13

Shelli Mader
Hays, Kan.

One of my favorite calving memories comes from the year when I was about 15. I can still remember my dad coming into the house that spring and asking my brothers and sister and I if we wanted to go see a new antelope calf.

We all did want to see it, and quickly loaded up in the pickup to go. During the whole 10 mile drive my dad had the other kids and me totally convinced that we were going to be seeing a baby antelope.

I was so excited. I’d never seen an antelope up close and couldn’t imagine how great it would be to see a calf. I hoped that it was all alone so that we could keep it for a pet.

My dad drove to the far corner of the pasture. A red cow was standing by the fence. My dad pointed to a small light brown pile in a large clump of soap weeds and told us that was the antelope. We all got out to take a closer look.

At first glance it didn’t look like an antelope or a calf — it looked like a puppy. When I got closer, it was a definitely a calf — not an antelope — but it looked miniature. We all wondered how it could reach to suck. The mother claimed it though, so we left them alone.

The next morning though, we found the calf barely alive with its hindquarters chewed up by a coyote. My dad scooped her up and set her in the front seat of the pickup — she barely took up half of the seat — and took her to the vet.

Amazingly, the vet was able to stitch up her up and he thought that she would be fine. At home that afternoon, we tried to take care of the antelope calf as much as we could. We weighed her and she was a surprising 30 pounds. My sister and I bathed her, bandaged her wounds and fed her with a bottle. We didn’t know if she would make it, but that evening we put her back in the pasture.

Our little antelope calf did make it, but she never grew up. She was so small she routinely walked under all the cows to get where she wanted to go. When she sucked, she put her whole body under the cow. At weaning time, as well as the sale day, the antelope calf looked more like a big ewe than a feeder calf. But, out of all the calves my parents have had over the years she was definitely our favorite. ❖