Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: First Calf
My son burst through the door this morning chattering that a heifer was having a calf.
“Do you want to go and see?” He asked his sister.
“Yes!” Was the immediate reply, as she lapped the house two times in 10 seconds, gathering all things necessary to go check on the first calf of the year.
“Do you want to go, mom?” He asked me.
Watching the degree of excitement unfolding before me, I replied I would go, too, and made my way to the bedroom to change into jeans and a sweater.
“Mom. Hurry up! It’s going to be all big and grown and run over Lyle before we even get there,” my daughter hollered as I finished changing.
I fully expect the AI company we ordered semen from to call and ask to use my daughter as a producer quote for this calf’s sire. They’re sure to sell more units with his projected ability to sire such unsurpassed growth and vigor.
My son quickly informed her, with five-year-old authority, that it was not going to be growing already.
I chuckled as we made our way outside, where my son shut off the side by side in order to coax the dog out to make room for his human passengers. He drove, and made a begrudging stop at the burn barrel for me to drop off the trash bag, then headed through the yard to the lot where the first-calf heifers had been awaiting this very day. Around the calving shed and right up to the gate we went.
And there she was, the first bovine mama, err, mama-to-be, waddling about with her tail stuck straight out in the distinct way that indicates birth is near at hand.
“So, has she calved, yet?” I asked, to be certain we were all on the same page.
“Not yet. But she’s going to,” my son replied.
Ahh. I see.
I then sat and listened as my kids thoroughly discussed whose heifer she was (Dad’s, sadly) and applied all the pressure they could on me to open the gate in order to check on her closer (with the dog right behind us). I was able to resist. Both were certain theirs would be the very next to calve, which reminded me I need to double check the AI list and see if that is a possibility.
After a couple minutes of sitting there with the stiff wind blowing through the side by side, the heifer waddled back by, and we all decided we could wait her out at the house.
My daughter wanted to know if the calf would need to go in a pen in the shed, with straw. I explained only if the mama needed help, or it got really, really cold. But, if it did need to go in a pen, she would have to help Dad, as our son and I would soon be leaving for school.
I doubt there has ever been a three-year-old more prepared to assist with a bovine birth, or whatever else could possibly result in that calf needing to go in a pen.
In fact, about an hour later, her Dad drove her out to personally check on the calf before going on with their day. I heard it was not standing up yet, but was flopping its head all over, and she needed to go because she was heading to Grandma’s to tell her about the calf, get her shirt fixed, and pick up ear tags.
I have said it before; days like today are what it is all about. The cattle business is serious, no doubt. But, it is also quite a bit of fun at times, including when the next generation spots the first calf of the year before it hits the ground.
Here is wishing everyone a trouble-free calving season, with lots of good help, and very few trips to the pen(s) in the shed.
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Earl cartoon by Big Dry Syndicate for the Sept. 18, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News