In keeping with our “One Day In The Life Of…..”series, I’ll tell you a story. This is not about one day, but rather one minute or less of one day—one minute that I won’t soon forget.
I hesitate to write this for fear that ranch people will think I’m either inexperienced or stupid! I AM somewhat inexperienced when compared to lifetime ranchers—-I’ve only been at this for 33 years! And, sometimes, I do stupid things. We, like so many others, are calving heifers this time of year. For my non-rancher friends, that means we keep the 2 yr old bovines confined in a corral during the time they are birthing their first calf—- in case they have trouble—so we can help them, of course. That requires us to check on them at short intervals—day and night. Since I am the natural night owl in my family, I take the night shift! Armed with my trusted flashlight, I go out to the corral and look for signs that the heifer is getting close to calving. I diligently shine the light on each and every heifer’s rear looking for slime (my term), water sack, feet or feet and nose! If any of these signs are present, I check her again in an hour or two (or less)—-depending on how close she is to giving birth. If there are problems, I promptly go get my husband out of bed. It’s now time for him to get involved! That, in a nutshell, is our version of calving.
That brings me to my one minute of unforgettable terror! There are many stories of ranchers being injured while working with cows, but I’ve always thought that they shouldn’t have such wild cattle—-Hmmm!! I apologize for that kind of thinking!
One day recently, Husband and I were doing the early evening check before he went to bed. It was just about dusk and we saw a heifer had calved and was taking care of her calf, but it wasn’t up and sucking yet. There was another heifer very close to them and very interested in the newborn. This is often an indication that the second heifer is soon to calve. So she wouldn’t distract the new mother, Husband took a few steps toward her and she moved away. All was good!!
We went to the house—he went to bed and I found a TV program to watch until it was time for the next check. At the appointed time, I went to the corral with my trusted flashlight and my two dogs (whom I left in the pick-up) to check heifers’ rears! Stepped in the corral to check on the new calf from earlier—-the ‘Granny’ heifer was back! I took a few steps toward her (thinking it had worked earlier) and then all HELL broke loose!
She snorted and shook her head—at which point I immediately thought of getting to the safety of the corral fence. I started backing up—she must have smelled fear —there was plenty of fear to smell—so she took a run at me. I landed on my back, my trusted flashlight was broken and I was looking up close and personal into the eyes of a very ticked off heifer! I did what any red blooded, terrified little girl would do—- I screamed!!! Loud and long! She walked off, but then she turned around and took a second run at me. Of course, I’m still on the ground—screaming. Maybe she took the second run to shut me up—I’ll never know.
I did get out, she didn’t hurt me (unless you consider my pride) and I learned a valuable lesson. I’m more cautious now—more aware. If possible, I check heifers from outside the corral, especially at night when I’m alone. I try to remember how cranky I was before giving birth to our three children.
That ‘granny’ heifer had her calf that night—she is a good and protective mother. They are now out to pasture with the other heifers and their calves. All is well and I’ve finally stopped shaking!
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