Friday, October 26, 2007

Mixed Bag (Lady) Day - Life on the Ranch

It's Friday, again, and this week the Bag Lady is sharing (by popular demand!) another ranching story.

Life on the ranch is not always, as John Denver said, kinda laid back! Certainly there are times when it is, but there are also times when it can be rather hectic. And downright exhausting.
Spring is one of the hectic times. Calves are being born left and right, and ranchers are trying to make sure that all the calves survive. Now the Bag Lady is aware that there are huge ranches out there where, due to sheer volume of animals, the cows are left to calve pretty much on their own; but with a small cow/calf operation things are a little different. Losing one or two calves when you have hundreds is not quite the catastrophe that it is when you only have forty or fifty head. So the small rancher has to be Johnny (or Jill)-on-the-spot.
There are all manner of things that can go wrong, but the Bag Lady is nothing if not superstitious, so she won’t talk about the Really Bad Things. One of the things that can happen is that a big calf can get stuck, so to speak. It comes part-way out, then gets hip-locked, which means exactly that. The calf gets stuck at the hips.
Early one spring morning, the Bag Lady dragged her weary butt out of bed, pulled on some clothes and stumbled out to check cows. It was just before dawn, and it was snowing; big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow. There was also a cold wind driving those big, fat, fluffy flakes of snow sideways! The Bag Lady shivered her way out to the little patch of trees where the cows had bedded down for the night.
There was a cow she knew was close to calving, and this particular cow had, in previous years, had some troubles. Sure enough, the cow was lying on her side with her calf half-way out. The Bag Lady was pretty sure that the calf was hip-locked. Now generally, when this happens, if the cow gets up or moves around a little, the calf will turn a bit and slip right out. A lot of times, though, the cow is tired, and she won’t move. Other times, all it takes is for the rancher to give a little tug when the cow pushes, and the calf will come. This is always a Lot Easier if the cow is in a confined space, like a barn, or calving shed, rather than out in the pasture. Cattle are wary of intruders when they are calving, even when they know you.
The Bag Lady quietly snuck up behind the cow and took a firm hold on the calf’s front legs, right about the time the cow turned her head and noticed her.
The cow leaped to her feet and took off, running into the wind, with the Bag Lady determinedly hanging on to the slippery calf’s legs! Blinded by the snow, trying desperately to dig her heels in, the Bag Lady was dragged through the bush until, with a strange sucking sound, the calf turned ever so slightly and slipped out of the cow. The Bag Lady managed not to hurt either herself or the calf, and also managed to be well out of the way when the enraged cow turned back to claim her calf! This is not, by the way, the recommended method for assisting a hip-locked calf, but the Bag Lady was lucky that morning and it worked!
After making sure everything was alright with calf and mother, and wiping snow out of her eyes and shaking it out of her dripping hair, the Bag Lady made her weary way back to the house for a well-deserved cup of coffee.
Just another day on the ranch.


Leah J. Utas said...

Calf skiing? My goodness, what some people will do for fun.
Great story, Bag Lady,and funny. I know this is hard work. It's good you've got a sense of humor about it.

the Bag Lady said...

Calf skiing - why didn't I think of that?!

Reb said...

Calf skiing - I love that!

Very funny tale Sis.

Hilary said...

What a visual! Too funny.. and love the cow-skiing comment. Were there any mooguls?

Great story.. can't wait until you tell us an udder one.

Terrie Farley Moran said...

df Bag Lady,

Great story. You always leave us city girls wanting to hear more.


Anonymous said...


And I get all whiny when I go out to get the paper and it's raining and they've thrown it a few feet onto the lawn instead right next to the door where I can pick it up without getting wet.

Perhaps I don't belong on a ranch.

(Well, I knew that already).

Great story!

the Bag Lady said...

Hi, Terrie & Crabby:
Yup, there's never a dull moment on Scratch-nut Creek Ranch!

Tanya said...

I'm so jealous *sigh*
I'd love to homestead, but there are so many barriers to entry. Right now I'm making do with lots of baking and cooking from scratch and volunteering at an organic farm... but it's just not the same.
Thanks for sharing.

the Bag Lady said...

Tanya - thanks for stopping by! The Bag Lady will try to post more ranching stories so you can live vicariously through them -- be sure to come back again!