‘Til death do us part
Last winter I wrote a story about Noodle. She is old, worn out and slow but Noodle was one of our favorite cows. When I wrote the story, I told about raising Noodle on the bucket and how she had been kept when she really wasn’t that great of a producer. I gave all the good reasons why we would be selling Noodle, as she was open, had no teeth and her stifles were very stiff and she couldn’t keep up with the bunch.
Well, it turns out that we’re not very good business managers. We kept her, even knowing she was open. She spent the winter with the replacement heifer calves, happily gumming down cake and hay and living the good life. As winter turned to early spring, she was still pretty thin, as toothless, ancient cows tend to be. By then though, we had concluded that none of us were tough enough to take her to the salebarn. It was decided to just let her live out her few months or years, being the star of the place, and just a pet. A very big, hungry pet who likes to be scratched and lets little boys sit on her back.
When calving time came and the grass was very green the end of April, she got to go out onto the calving pasture with the cows. She enjoyed the green grass and cake, plus there were lick barrels and handy barbed wire fences to scratch her hiney on. Life was good for the old relic.
One day, as I was working on a fence on one side of that calving pasture, Noodle thought for sure I had something fabulous in those little cans and buckets I was using so had to come over and “help.” She was disgusted to find only old staples, fence clips and tools in those containers. She decided that I could make it up to her by scratching her belly while she practically stood on top of me as I was kneeling by the fence. There was no running her off as she is totally unafraid of people. While down in the prime flank position, I happened to glance at her bag. Odd. It seems to not look like an old floppy glove. It had shape. I felt of it. Yes. There’s filling in it. I struggled to my feet and looked under her tail. Weird. She’s a little loose there. I stepped back and really looked at her and realized her belly was huge. Well, I’ll be.
Sure enough, the visual preg check was correct. This past Sunday morning, old Noodle waddled over to her favorite spot to calve and produced a bouncing baby bull calf. She has lots of milk for him as her bag is the only thing not worn out on her. She’s terribly proud of him too. She nearly licked my son and I to death while we banded and tagged him. He wasn’t nearly as friendly and was pretty insulted over the deal, but she enjoyed the attention, bragging and handful of cake.
So, sometimes vets are wrong. Sometimes one’s foolishness over an old cow pays off. She’ll get to raise him and be given the chance to raise another by going out with the cows when turnout time comes around in July. She’ll get preg checked again this fall, but now we know for sure, it won’t matter which way the check goes, she’ll still be in the corral with the replacement heifer calves. Teaching them how to be gentle and giving them a good butting in the ribs now and then for crowding her. The back scratching, tummy rubbing and Grandboy loving of the old cow will go on. ‘Til death due us part, apparently.
For the first part of Noodle’s story, check out http://bit.ly/1UqLvhD.
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Many students around the state of North Dakota will soon have the chance to try beef produced in their own backyard.