Ranch life in the Big Sky state through the eyes of one who has lived through it...so far.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

May Day!

As usual, Old Man Winter couldn't let us meander happily into spring without taking at least one more cheap shot. While the rest of you were prancing around in sombreros and sipping margaritas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I was wearing the bear and being pelted by the slushballs that pass for snowflakes in spring storms. They're so big and so wet my heavy canvas Carhartt coat was almost soaked through by the time we got back to house and I could wring water out of my snowpants and the hood of my sweatshirt.

We had one newborn calf that got chilled and didn't look like he'd had a good meal, so Greg and I headed out on the four wheeler towing our trusty calf rescue tub, otherwise known as a black plastic water tank. Of all the contraptions we've tried this simple little tank works the best.

The trick is to put the calf in something the cow isn't afraid of, where she can see and smell him. Then she'll follow wherever you take him (theoretically, anyway, barring the occasional fence post stupid cow that hasn't figured out she has a calf or would rather someone just take him off her hands). This is key because a cow that has just calved is near impossible to chase. You have to convince her to come along on her own.

So we dragged the calf down to the corral, put Mama in the squeeze chute, and tried to persuade Junior to have a bite to eat by prying his chattering teeth apart and stuffing a teat inside. He was a lot less cooperative than his mother, possibly because he was so cold and wet his jaws were locked from shivering, or possibly because he already had a bellyful. Either way he was chilled to the bone, so we loaded him in the pickup and hauled him home to warm up.

Then we went back to the house to dry off and warm ourselves and the power promptly went out. Ah, spring. I wish I could say this one was an exception but no, it's pretty much always like this.



Postscript: in case you noticed an excess of heavy breathing on the part of the camera person, you should know that in order to video this I had to jog along BEHIND the cow and four wheeler in Muck boots and full winter gear while being blinded by icy snow bullets. You see what I do for you? 


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4 comments:

Megan Coakley said...

Oh, my hands are cold just from watching! That cow mama was very cooperative. On some days, I would gladly load one or two of my pack in the tub and let you drive them away!

Cynthia D'Alba said...

Nice but I want braless Kari chasing around a cow in her front yard video! HA HA HA

Kristen Lippert-Martin said...

I'm glad I didn't get put in a freezing cold squeeze chute for my first nursing session as a mom.

How do you warm those little guys up? Electric blankets?

Kari Lynn Dell said...

Megan: I also managed to drop my gloves and the calf trampled them into the mud. Good move, that.

Cyndi: I was wearing a coat, which significantly reduced the effect of the bralessness, at least from a spectator standpoint. And me braless is sort of a non-event to begin with.

Kristen: The quickest, most effective way to warm them up is to shove them in the pickup and turn the floor heat on high. We also have a big plastic hut thing that blows warm air up through a grate in the floor. This calf got to spend the night in the hut and went back out to join Mama in the morning.