My Side of The Barbed Wire |

My Side of The Barbed Wire

Babes in the Bathtub

It is safe to say that this year March came in like a lion and was still roaring when she went out. As I write this article the sky is brown with dust and dirt as the wind howls and threatens to blow away anything that isn’t chained, staked, or anchored down. This last month has been a wild, crazy, and busy ride, but thankfully we are almost done calving and despite the wind and lack of moisture we have had, we have been blessed with healthy calves and mostly friendly mama cows. This past month threw us some crazy challenges, from calves that were brought into the world with some assistance because they weren’t coming the right way to extremely cold wind chills that froze man and beast alike. Those cold temps caused a few calves to get to spend a little time in the house to warm up. My two-year-old daughter was more than happy to have calves in her bathtub and front porch, my four-year-old son on the other hand wasn’t crazy with the idea. It was that experience that brought the following poem to mind.

“Run the bathtub full,” was the call my bride got, “be sure that water is borderline hot!”

The windchill is hanging about ten below and by golly it’s trying to snow. The first calf we found has got quite a chill. This kind of weather will surely kill.

We scoop up the cold calf and assure his mother, it will be alright in the house where it’s warm, we’ll get him inside where the wind can’t do any harm.

With frost on his whiskers and his ears stiff as a board, if this baby is going to make it, we’ll need some help from the Good Lord.

We put the baby in our family bathtub, what is usually filled with rubber ducks and soapy bubbles, is now a warm spot where we hope a bovine’s temperature doubles.

With some warm colostrum mixed up and fed to this chilled-out baby, my kids ask if he’ll be ok, to which I can only answer with a solemn “Maybe”

Time passes by, soon thirty minutes then and hour. My eyes start to leak like the stream from a shower.

I say a little prayer that this calf lives to see green summer pasture. With every minute that passes, his heart seams to beat a little faster. Suddenly our patient lets out a loud MOO! Scared me and the kids too!

After we dry our furry friend and snuggle him in an old blanket wrapped tight, we move him to the kitchen where there’s some warm sunlight. My little helpers aren’t sure what to think, they aren’t accustomed to cows taking a nap next to the kitchen sink.

A little while later and the storm subsides, its time for a family reunion with junior and his mama outside! A proud moment for me with my children by my side.

We here in the ranching world know that sometimes it takes a little extra effort to bring new life into the world. Not every calf that is born in the cold can be saved, but you can bet that every rancher I know will be out there in the cold wind and freezing snow trying to make sure they all have the best chance. The life that we lead is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard, painful, and sometimes heartbreaking, but there is also no other profession that can be as rewarding when things go the way they should. My children understand life and death better than some adults. They have seen new life enter this world and have watched their daddy cry when he tried everything he could only to have the bovine patient die. That’s all for this time. Screw your hat down tight in this wind, keep tabs on your side of the barbed wire and God Bless.

Jade Meinzer

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