Good work, team. Good work.
If calving recap were a list of emotions it would look something like this:
And that’s just the first week.
If calving recap were a list of questions it might look something like this:
Can life get any better?
Are those front feet or back feet?
When was the last time I brushed my teeth? Has she been sucked?
Have you seen the forecast?
Is that snow falling AGAIN?
Why did she have that calf right there?
Can you believe we get to do this for a living? Can I change jobs?
Is she taking the calf?
When was the last time I ate?
Wanna run through them for me?
What’s that smell?
Why is she claiming the wrong calf? Seriously????!
If calving recap were a to-do list it would look something like this:
Run from a protective mama cow-check
Sit and wait for a new calf to stand and suck-check
Graft a calf-check
Beg the cow to take the graft-check
Mess up writing the number on a new ear tag-check
Pull a calf in on the calf sled-check
Check the calving lot in a blizzard-check
Mistake a pile of a manure for a calf-check
Get to a calf just in time-check
Find a calf a little too late-check
Check the weather-check
Curse the weather-check
Take a nap in the pick up-check
Eat supper at 10 pm-check
Bottle feed a calf-check
Put a calf in the warmer-check
Put a calf in your pick up-check
Put a calf in your bathtub-check
Milk a cow-check
If my kids gave the calving recap it would sound something like this:
“My dad says he’ll be right back and then he’s gone FOREVER.”
“I love letting a calf suck on my finger.”
“Can we name that one ________?”
“I got to drive the Ranger!”
“Bedding the sheds with straw starts out really fun but I get really tired of it. I also think it’s fun to lay in the straw and fall back into it and even roll around in it. But then I realize it just gets really, really itchy.”
“It’s the best when Dad lets me go with him late at night to check. I also have a very hard time staying awake during those checks.”
“I always remember the number of the calves I got to tag.”
“Sometimes it’s kinda gross.”
“My dad comes home smelling really weird and his clothes are really dirty.”
“It feels good for Dad to give me a job that I can do on my own.”
“When Dad has been up all night, I have to be really quiet when he comes in to take a nap during the day. I’m not very good at that.”
“When I pray I always thank God for healthy calves.”
“It is SOOOOOOO hard to be quiet when we are working near the cows.”
“My favorite jobs are the ones where I get to ride the 4 wheeler!”
“We love shooting gophers while we are out checking cows.”
“I shot my first gopher this year!”
“The baby calves are soooooo cute!”
“I like putting pairs out.”
“I’ve gotten to do more stuff this year because I’m older.”
“It’s fun to watch our puppy stare at the cows.”
“Can you just drop us off at the haystack while you do your work? We’d rather run and jump on the bales than ride in the pickup with you.”
If I were to try to sum it all up it would be something like this:
As Calving 2020 winds down, we are thankful for all we have. We feel like overall it was a good year and we are proud of where we are. The thing that makes me chuckle is that the silly lists and “recaps” I wrote aren’t unique to 2020. Sure, I wrote them this year as I reflected on the last couple of months of calving, but nothing in there is new. So much of this job is unchanging. In a strange way it is completely predictable and insanely unpredictable at the same time. We never know what the day will hold...or even the hour. The days run together in a series of must-do’s and those days run seamlessly into nights full of their own demands. It is impossible to predict what exact task will come next, but all of those tasks are the ones we all expect. They aren’t unique to our family, our ranch, our town, or even our generation. All across the country for generations, ranchers have checked cows, nursed calves back to health, begged the weather to cooperate, had dirty clothes, and craved just a little bit of sleep. Parents have slowed down to teach kids something new, kids have walked with the confidence that comes from working hard. And I’m sure that kids being too loud when they’re supposed to be quiet is a timeless and universal occurrence! Meals have always been delivered to the calving lot, calves have been lost, and vets have come to the rescue. We aren’t the first or last ones to experience these things and everything on this list will happen again and again.
From the first wet calf on the ground to the last one through the branding chute, it is wild ride that we are thrilled to be on. Now, the sun is shining, the pasture is taking on a shade of green, and calves are out there bouncing and kicking up their heels. And for all ranchers, that sight has always been and will always be a pat on the back for a job well done. Good work, team. Good work.