Monday, May 5, 2008

Ranching

Today, the Bag Lady wants to talk a little about the glamorous side of cattle ranching. Oh, you've all seen pictures of the cute little calves, and heard stories about birthing calves, and falling off decks, but there is another side to cattle ranching.

The Bag Lady is talking about those days when you have to intervene because a calf isn't doing well. Like yesterday. One of the calves was having a little trouble figuring out where he was supposed to get his milk supply. He was a big calf, and sometimes they are fairly well-nourished when they are born, so are a little lazy about finding a drink of milk. His mother wouldn't stand still out in the pasture in order for us to give him a little help, so we had to take them to the barn. In a more contained space, she doesn't have much choice except to stand still, and that makes it much easier for a little human assistance. Most of the time, all that is needed is a little guidance - once the calf gets the teat in his mouth, he knows what to do!

Unfortunately, the cow in this instance was quite a distance from the barn and the Bag Lady had to resort to what is called (around here, anyway) calf-pushing. This is accomplished by straddling the calf from the rear and pushing him along. It is strenuous and back-breaking (actually, quite a work-out, if you want to look at it that way...) and can be dangerous, if the mother is aggressive. If you take the calf, the mother will usually follow, most of the time close on your heels, bawling in your ear to leave her baby alone, damn you!

We have a fairly long alleyway built along the side of one pasture that leads to our barn. At this time of year, because it is quite shaded, it is the last place on the ranch to dry up. Planning? What planning?!

Once the cow and calf are in the alleyway, not quite as much calf-pushing is involved because the calf will follow the cow. It may need some help in the really muddy places, but for the most part it will go under it's own steam. Which is a good thing, because by then, the Bag Lady is usually so worn out that she can barely get all the way there! Fortunately, the Cowboy was also there, and at one point, actually had to pick up the (over-100 lbs) calf and carry him across a particularly muddy section. (With the Cowboy sinking practically to his knees!)

All's well that ends well, though. The cow and calf are in the barn, the Cowboy helped the calf get some milk, and the only casualty in the whole event were these:


And these:

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good morning - thanks for naming a calf after me - very cute, of course! Sounds like you had a very active and strenuous weekend. I feel your pain about your feet, I actually completed ALL 39 miles of the D.C. Avon Walk this weekend. Was definitely a challenge!
"Calf-pushing" would be an interesting addition to one's resume. :-)

Missicat

the Bag Lady said...

Missicat - glad you completed your walk! Now that you've had all that exercise, you can come try out for calf-pushing!!

Leah J. Utas said...

So, calf-pushing is not as easy as falling off a deck?
(I am so sorry for that remark.)
Most interesting account.
Can you save the socks?

the Bag Lady said...

dfLeah - falling off the deck is much easier to accomplish...but a little more painful!
The shoes are history, but the socks (although a little on the grey side) are salvageable.

Sagan Morrow said...

Very glamorous indeed! And I'm with Missicat on the resume... that'd be too awesome.

the Bag Lady said...

Come one, come all to the calf-pushing competition!! Hehehehe...

Reb said...

Oh my! I must say, it sounds like you got a good workout this weekend! Off to buy rubber boots now? Or is it just a case of neglecting to put them on?

Emily said...

Hmmmm...I think you could use a new pair of shoes. And cow pushing is definitly considered an exercise although quite an odd one. I'm glad the story had a happy ending : )

PS- I'm sorry to hear about your fall. Those of us that don't always look before we walk tend to end up falling a lot!

Scrumpy's Baker said...

You need to get yourself some snazzy boots!

the Bag Lady said...

Reb and SB - Actually, I do have a pair of rubber boots, but hadn't anticipated the calf-pushing event! The pasture itself is quite dry...
Sigh.

Emily - calf-pushing may become the next new Olympic event!! :)

Hilary said...

First cow tipping and now calf pushing. I'm learning so much! Tell the cowboy that I'll pay to see photos or a video of that next time!

the Bag Lady said...

Aha! There you are, missy Hilary! We'll all pay to see the video when next YOUR namesake has to be pushed anywhere, 'cause you will have to come do the calf-pushing!! Sheesh. (You'll be happy to know that your brute of a namesake is finally getting milk...)

Anonymous said...

After walking 39 miles in two days, I feel like I can accomplish most anything - perhaps even calf pushing! My accounting resume is a bit boring and dry. :-)

Missicat

the Bag Lady said...

Anytime you feel like a lesson, c'mon out, missicat! You can push your namesake around, if you can catch her!!

Geosomin said...

You need some funky wellies for such an occasion as this.
Get the ones with sparly jewels glued on them like Shirley Bassey.
You'll be classy in cowland I tells ya! :)
Glad the calves are doing well...

the Bag Lady said...

Well, I sure need something, 'cause I'll never wear those shoes again!!
And they were my favourites, too, dammit!

Sunny Delight said...

I visited my old home this weekend (my soon-to-be-ex still lives on the farm) and I was a bit sad I hadn't been around for the spring calving. I have always loved the sight of the cow and calf, I would lean on the fence, or sit on the back deck, and enjoy the peaceful scene. You have reminded me of the downside though...the calf-pushing, and calf-carrying, the oft times very painful back after helping an especially weak calf stay at the teat. I mis it but, not enough to go back.

Sigh, I will probably be excluded at show time this year...that I will miss. I am a great tail teaser...eh that doesn't sound quite right does it? Maybe I should just stick to saying I am a good cattle groomer.

MizFit said...

your life is SO interesting.
video please.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, that's sounds exhausting... what a workout!

Perhaps the trendy gyms in Manhattan and around the world will pick up on this all-body form of exercise and supply a bunch of confused calfs for the gym members to wrangle!

(I'd rather go to calf-aerobics than some of the stripper-aerobics classes they offer).

the Bag Lady said...

Sunny - I'm sure I would miss seeing the calves in the spring, too! That's sorta what sucked me into this business -- it certainly wasn't the money!

Miz - if I had a better video-type camera, I'd post something with sound, too...the ducks quacking, frogs croaking, geese cackling in the background, while the cows make their little "mothering noises"...

Crabby - maybe we could start a new trend in the city!!

Amy Mullis said...

Ohhh, the joys of motherhood. We might not have patience for our children, but we don't want anyone else to mess with them! (How disturbing is it that I identify with a cow?) I'm sorry for your casualties, too. Hope you've had a chance for a nice warm soak and a rest--whaddya mean "what's rest?"

the Bag Lady said...

Amy - I'm looking forward to a nice warm soak...sometime in June!

Dawn said...

My heart goes out to you! I KNOW how hard on the back calf pushing can be.

But I have to be honest - I'm just loving reading about your exploits with the calves. In NZ we have very wet springs, mud all over the place. You need gumboots, gal!

the Bag Lady said...

Dawn - honestly, I do have rubber boots! I just didn't have them on that day... Hadn't planned on taking that little journey!