sand and tequila, but for a ranch kid like me, it was quite the opposite...
Calving season this year started off with a twist. On our ranch, we
don't usually breed yearling heifers. We let them have another year of maturation, which often leads to fewer issues for the first time calvers.
This year, our "unbred" replacement heifers were being kept on our lease land across the river and my dad has been taking hay over to them as needed throughout the winter. Just over a week ago however, his routine trip turned into a major project. Lo and behold, Dad found a new born calf, along with about five other heifers that looked like they were getting close to calving! Now the piece of land that these heifers were being kept on was snowed in, across the river, and about fifteen minutes away from the ranch. Obviously this was no place for first time calvers to be, so this meant work, and more than we had planned for.
I wasn't home yet from college yet when this occurred so Mom and Dad hooked up both our trailers, filled one with portable panels and headed across the river. After setting up a make-shift corral, and spending all afternoon trudging through knee deep snow after a bunch of spooky heifers, they finally managed to load the ones that were closest to calving and head for home. The others were to be brought home at a later date.
After some thought, Dad had decided that this little mishap must have been caused by a runty little bull calf that was in with the heifers for a few weeks. No one thought he as mature enough for him to get the job done, but apparently he was!
So, by the time our official first day of calving came around, we already had one healthy little surprise on the ground, and from there they just kept coming. Between helping Dad with chores, calving and homework I barely had time to wish that I was somewhere on a beach, and really nor did I want to. Calving season is busy, on any ranch and in my world, there is nothing better than feeling useful.
The first job of importance I was ever given as a kid
was warming up colostrum (first milk a mamma cow makes for her calf when its first born. It's filled with nutrients and important for the first few days) for new born calves that weren't doing so well. It was of the utmost importance to keep stirring the milk to make sure the bottom didn't burn and it was a job I remember taking very seriously! Its not hard to find a small job on a ranch but its often the small jobs that make up the most important aspects. For instance, ranching is about raising animals for market. In the industry its important to keep your livestock alive. Keeping new born calves alive ensures that ranchers will have a product to market when the time comes so really, it all begins with those first few days of life. When it comes right down to it, making sure that colostrum doesn't burn so the calf can drink it is one of the building blocks of a ranch's success and its a job that many ranchers leave to their kids! Ranching is a family based occupation and during calving season, you really need all hands on deck!