Saturday, February 16, 2008

Calving Season Starts

It's officially here, calving season. Had the first one yesterday, a nice little black heifer that came to be, unassisted and hungry. Just the way I like 'em. The weather is taking a pretty nasty turn for the worse tonite, with everything from flash flood warnings, to ice, to up to 6 inches of snow by tomorrow. Right now it's icing up pretty fast, and that's the worst kind of weather for a new calf. For those uninitiated in the ways of cows and the timeliness of calves being flung out of their wombs into the world... bad weather makes 'em hit the ground with a promise. If a cow is close to being ready to calve, the sudden swing in barometric pressure sends 'em right over the edge. The worst kind of weather to have a baby calf in? The kind that's happening right now, freezing rain. Yup. A calf has to get dry once after it's born for everything to work out right. It hits the ground wet and the first thing momma does, if she's a good mom and not dreaming of becoming a Happy Meal, is lick that baby dry. Once it's dry and gets a little colostrum in it's tummy... a little snow or rain usually isn't gonna kill it.

In a perfect world, they'd always be in the barn to calve, but that just doesn't happen. We try to calve the heifers (cows that are having their first calf) in the barn. Makes it a much happier experience for me. A heifer will often need some help in getting the calf outta that awkward position, which is not the womb and not the open air. :-) If I've gotta go elbow to shoulder deep into a cowgina, fishing around for a soon to be born baby, whilst staring at beef rectum, I'd like it to be happening in place where everyone concerned is as comfortable as possible. When I'm staring at beef rectum I usually think of the Care Bears or Chocolate cake. It helps.

So, I'm hoping that nothing is happening right at this moment with the cows. There weren't any that looked eminent, but anything can happen. Yee haw.

One other thing that I remembered after posting the donkey pics the other day. Used to be a fellow just south of me that raised registered Simmental cattle and he always broke a bunch to lead for show stock and etc. First he'd catch them and put a halter on them and tie them in the barn for a few days with plenty to eat and drink but with a radio playing to get them used to noise. The next phase was to tie 'em up to an old donkey he had. It was kind of a silly sight to see, a big 700-800 pound calf tied up to a donkey, just walking around in the barnlot. Thing is, when that donkey wants to stop... EVERYBODY stops. When that donkey wants to walk... EVERYBODY walks. After a few days of donkey school, you could lead that calf anywhere he wanted to go.

Okay I'm done. :-)


Anonymous said...

Gee. we have it sooo much easier here in Fl. they wait for thunderstorms ! Seriously, our first for this year arrived Tues a week ago. Ain't nothing prettier than a spunky black calf is there ? Hmmm, maybe if we could 'donkey train' we wouldn't have to look and act like idots trying to split ours up after being in the rye field. We just need more room or less cows ! I really enjoy your blog and can SO relate ! Florida Girl

Darla said...

Well I hope mom has done her duty to that young'un! And I hope you don't have to go fishing for too many of those newborns! Don't want to get too personal here but my youngest was born feet first and didn't want to come out after her twin left the premises!


Fletch said...

You wrote: When I'm staring at beef rectum I usually think of the Care Bears or Chocolate cake. It helps.

I knew a vet in Oxford, MS, way long time ago. He was always yakking it up about being up to his elbows in, well, you know, cowgina. But strangely, he never commented about the beef rectum. Mind over matter. I like your comparison, even before b'fast.

Jerry said...

Good luck this season, Jace. The young'ns deserve a chance.

tracey said...

we have a few farmers that tie up their cows to the donkey as well. they swear by it...and it's great entertainment if you can catch them on the first day of it all.

okay...i can understand the care bears...but chocolate cake. dude! ick! :oP

Kim said...

Oh, I had to laugh at your beef rectum, Care Bears, chocolate cake comparison. Good visual for us city gals!

Vicky said...

Here's hoping all of the calves are dropped in the barn -- without your help! :) :) :) :)

Are you going to experiment with a donkey? I think you ought to -- at least for the blogging experience it would afford! ILY