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: