This morning I was feeling bored and claustrophobic being cooped up in the house for a couple of days. I called The Prairie Daddy to see what he was up to. He said that he would be doing some calf tagging and what not in a little bit between raking hay. He asked if we wanted to come help. It worked out perfect for The Prairie Kid and I to do something out of the house.
We headed out on an ATV to meet up with The Prairie Daddy in the field where our cows just started calving. Yep, we just started calving. The "industry norm" is calving in the early Spring but we keep a consistent supply of calves between our ranch and over where Dad is. Dad does the Feb/March calving and we calve a half of a year later at our place. Summer calving is so much easier too. We don't have to "babysit" the cows as much because the weather is cooperative and makes it easier on the mamas and babies.
Last night The Prairie Daddy did inform me we lost our first calf. He said he found it dead and it had a deformed nose. Poor thing. I never get used to that. However, he also told me there was a set of twins, which means we can take one of the twins and put it on the mama that lost her baby. This would be part of the "task at hand" that I would help with.
After The Prairie Daddy tagged the two newest calves we drove over to the mama and her deceased baby. The mama never left her baby's side. She is a good mama. It made me so sad to see her there, 36 hours later, still with her baby. The Prairie Daddy put the calf on the back of the ATV and slowly drove and the mama followed. We needed to get the mama up to the corral two fields away so that we could trailer her down to the barn. I slowly followed on my ATV. It was just hurting my heart to watch her chase that baby.
After we had her settled at the corral The Prairie Daddy went and got the twin that we were going to "graft" to a new mama. I'll explain grafting in a bit. I met him down at the barn and then we jumped in a truck with a trailer and went to pick up the twin's new mama. We took her down to the barn and got her in the chute where we tried to help the new calf nurse. The calf wasn't hungry at the time. This is where the grafting comes in.
A cow knows the scent of her calf. If you put a mama in with someone else's baby and that baby tries to nurse the mama is most likely going to kick that calf around. Some cows might down right hurt another's baby if they're alone in a small area. So, in order to "fake" the mama out, we put Vick's rub on the mama's nose and on the calf. This masks the mama cow's ability to know the scent of the calf. We're hoping when we check in later they will have taken to each other. Once they take to each other the rest is history! And a mama who lost her own baby can help a twin calf not have to share milk. Everyone wins.
I do have to admit that I was a chicken this morning. The Prairie Daddy wanted me to help get the cow moved up the alley way in the barn and I got scared and ran when she turned back on me. Later, he needed me to move her again and I got scared and jumped up and over a fence. I didn't feel so bad when he ran and shut a gate to keep her from going after him though! She wasn't a happy camper. Who can blame her? I am just smart enough to not take my chances with something that out weighs me by 1700 +/- pounds!
And life on the prairie goes on...