A calvin’ lesson
Winters can be cold along the Hi Line of Montana. It’s a place where neighbors help neighbors. Survival often depends on it.
Dan and Jay were havin’ a big time in town. They had the night off, these cowboys did, and were makin’ the best of it. At closin’ time they jumped in their pickup and headed back to the ranch in good spirits. It was 19 miles of gravel road to their hometown address that gave their county a zip code, and another seven miles out to the ranch. Snow on the ground, half-moon, plowed road, broken clouds. 6˚ above zero.
Ten miles from home they passed ol’ Tom, a neighbor. He was headed for town in his 4-wheel drive pickup with a deer guard on the front and stock racks in the back. Dan noticed Tom was haulin’ a cow. Cowboy intuition clued our heroes that they might be able to help. They turned around, caught up with Tom and hailed him down. Turns out he was headed to town with a cow that needed a c-section. During his midnight heifer check he’d shined the flashlight on her, watched her strain for a bit then called the vet, loaded the cow and headed to town.
Well, Jay and Danny, bein’ the good Samaritans they were, offered to trade rigs. They’d take care of the cow and ol’ Tom could take their truck and go home. They had ulterior motives. The DVM was new to the area and she deserved a better look.
Doc, or Doctress, I should say, met them at the clinic. The boys unloaded the cow and did all they could to be pleasant and useful. The new Doctress had been thrown feet first into the whirlpool of calvin’ season, which meant, among other things, that she was sleep derived.
Professionally she dropped the sidebars on the squeeze chute, clipped, prepped and blocked the surgical field on the left flank. With a boldness that impressed our two lads, she made an incision like she was drawing on a blackboard. Within a short minute her plastic-sleeved arm was elbow deep inside the cavernous cow. She swept to the left. She swept to the right, then looked at the cow’s tail head and at the boys…”
Gentlemen,” she said, “there is no calf here.”
It was a long trip back to Ol’ Tom’s ranch, for the boys and… for the cow. When they unloaded her she had icicles on her eyebrows and ears.
She looked a little worse for the wear when they put her back in the calving lot. She mooed a tired moo, then the boys heard her calf bawl back.
They didn’t bother to wake Ol’ Tom.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the Oct. 23, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News