Every Spring, when the calves are being born, it gets very busy around here. Hubby and I are the only ones here and with about 600 babies expected we are run off our feet.
Along with the normal day’s work of feeding and bedding and checking on everyone we also have to tend to the babies. We usually split up so that while he is feeding, I check on the new babies. If we are able to get to them right after they are born we are very happy because they are much easier to catch and handle. It is quite amazing how at only minutes old they are able to get up and run, and very fast. Everyone is tagged and their number, mom’s number, date, and sex is recorded in a book. Sounds easy enough. So I thought.
My first time out Hubby told me to be careful, keep my head up, watch the mamma, and be ready to run. What!?
Our cows are ranch cattle which means we do not have a lot of hands on interaction with them. We can walk amongst them but don’t expect to be able to pet them or catch them (unfortunately, because I would love to be able to pet and hug them all!).
Just like human mothers, there are many different kinds. Some moms will back off and just stand and bawl (moo) at us or walk away and continue eating. Others will actually run away like they are on fire or something and we have to either chase her back to her baby or load it up and take it to her. There are also the “Babysitters” as I call them. They are the other moms who come running at any calf’s cry or the one lone cow left with 4, 5 or even 10 calves. We even have delinquent mothers and it seems they don’t care where their calf is or if it cries and sometimes they will actually loose them. We usually sell those ones. Then there is the one who tries to kill you.
Hubby knows who some of these are and their babies never get tagged, which is ok because I pitty the one who tries to take her baby. The bad thing though is that I am not that familliar with the herd yet, so sometimes I encounter these moms. On one such occasion I pulled the quad up to a calf, got the rope on it’s hind leg so that stayed put for me and then I started writing on the tag and in the book. Suddenly there is a cow bellering and charging at me. I jumped over the quad to the other side and she came around, I jumped over again and here she comes again. This time she head buts the side of the quad and it rocks up on two wheels. I untied the rope from the quad, threw everything into the bin and managed to get out of there.
Hubby has had a situation like that, but unfortunately he didn’t get away like I did. He was rammed into the side of the quad by the cow while bent over tagging her baby. His warnings come from experience and I try very hard to listen and remember.
Although very scary, I can’t help but admire these moms. I would like to think I would do the same if someone was after my kids.