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Archive for October, 2013

4:00 AM…AgDay news.
5 Bells, All’s Well…
Cowgal Hawk and I made the pre-dawn, pre-5 AM lap through the heavy lot. All is well. 11 PM fella, cozied up to mom. Another baby just up learning to walk, another baby looking for the 1st teat.
6:00 AM…Next? Buttermilk biscuits, omelet w/ green peps & provolone. Thank you to my neighbors Pete and Jan who have been bringing me green peppers by the bucketful 4 wks. ~Feeling Blessed w/ Minimal Stress…lol

Was there a baseball game last night? Got waxed, eh?

7:00 AM Breakfast is served…love my mom’s natural gas stove, my mom’s skillet (my grandma gave it to her daughter – my mom – for a wedding gift) and mom’s mom’s Bake King sheet. Nothing fancy…but dang good. And my mom is diving into her breakfast!

~HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mom…I Love You!~

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Empty Glass? Now Full? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . October 14, 2013
Bio Mom, Wanna Baby and Double Down. . . October 15, 2013
The Journeys of Double Down. . . . . . . . . . . October 20, 2013

Tammy’s Cowdogs, Tammy’s Cowdogs Page and Tammy’s Cowdog website “blog” are places where I have shared the posts about a couple of 1st calf heifers and their 1st calving experiences. The story or stories begin with the three post titles listed above.

Today is Sunday, October 20, 2013. At 6:00 AM I left home to check a few heavy cows. It is pitch black out yet I can tell it is going to be a clear day. The E sky is beginning to glow with magenta and orange coloring. Look up and not a cloud in the sky. The iron steed is not wet with dew. There is a mild wind from the S and the feel of the air is less damp and chilling than yesterday. It feels good. (I might be overdressed!) The early dawn appears to be filled with the signs of the makings of a good day. Hawk is loaded up and ready to go. We head out the driveway and I get the morning bump with her nose. Hawk is looking for my neck or my left ear so that she can run her wet nose along my neck and in behind my left ear. She cannot find it. I am ragged up and my head is Patagonia’d covered up with my ears also comforted by my worn out fleece Red Head (Bass Pro) head band. After a few nudges from Hawk and a few pushy paw swats I tell her, “Q u i t”, and chuckle and whisper, “I love you too.” Hawk smiles…she knows, we love each other.

In the dark and the waving motion of the head lights of the steel steed we pick up the sight of 2 bodies of cows, eyes and on the ground another set of eyes. I think, “Ole Double Down has those moms trained. He is a lazy, satisfied, in control little dude.” Hawk and I spot through the heavies and all is well. We buzz back to the house to get the camera. in my mind, I liken Double Down and his mothers to a toddler about to fly from the nest of home. The scene is of a mom sending her little one off to school for the first day. The first day away from mom. A new adventure for the little one. Knowing as a mom that your little one is going to meet other little ones their own size. Big people to meet too. New things to see. New things to do. Lots to absorb and take in. Yet knowing there is a comfort in the mind of the little one that mom said she’d always be there for me.

Back to the heavy lot with the camera jostling around my neck. I leave the iron steed at a distance so that I can try to walk up to Bio Mom, Gotta Baby (formerly Wanna Baby), and Double Down. The morning is still at the stage of “all is calm and quiet”. I can hear the soft rolling, smacking, watery, chewy sound of Bio Mom and Gotta Baby as they process yesterday’s meals. I love this calming, soothing sound. Double Down has been camped out behind Gotta Baby. Both cows spent the last few hours laying in a fashion to block the S wind from Double Down. Ole Double Down was spry, looking content and looking at me with curiosity. I wonder if he remembers on the day he was born that he kicked me in the shin? I wonder if he remembers me roping and haltering him to drag his fanny to the chute to nurse Wanna Baby? I smile at him…we already have memories of each other. As I crept closer to Double Down, he got up. He stretched himself, farted (his little tail made three little upwards motions) and he slowly walked to Bio Mom. Double Down had his nose extended, sniffing the air, listening to Bio Mom’s soft come her baby moo. He gets to within 2 feet of her and his sniffing indicates, “No, she’s the one without food.” He immediately turns towards the soft come her baby moo of Wanna Baby/Gotta Baby, takes two little skips and bam he is on the teat. Tail wagging, spread apart hind legs and he is in business. He nurses for a short bit and then stands with his moms. I am blessed at this point because I know that Double Down is good to go.

Hawk and I left and as we were leaving the lane I turned and went back to the fence. Thinking I’d catch a shot of the trio with just a tiny bit of light from the coming of the dawn. In the west sky I notice the full moon was hanging directly above the trio. What a sight…what a sight. Gotta Baby was ready to take her adopted baby on to the pasture. The same pasture that a week before was the saddest place on Earth for her. Bio Mom was encouraging Double Down to stay with her. Again, a teeny tiny game of maternal tug-of-war. I snap a few pictures and it dawned on me. I was like a mom sending her little one off into the world. Double Down and his three moms – Bio Mom, Wanna Baby/Gotta Baby and me “Hovering Mom”. And well heck, the fourth mom “Hawk the Cowdog”…afterall she is the one that has been with all 4 of us since the water bubble with the hind feet situation with the sad 1st calf heifer that lost her baby – happy for you Gotta Baby. Happy for all of us. ~It’s Sunday, God Bless All of Us.


-PS…I’ll edit this later. Gotta run 4 now.

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Ask my mom what it was like to drive this road when it was a sand trail?
S of Whitman, Nebraska…in the Sandhills.
LOL…not fond memories for her.
Especially when she rolled the pickup and split my head open.
~Photo by Robert G. Swan.
Sandhills Road to Home by Robert G. Swan

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Well, to continue with the 1st calf heifers and the baby with two moms. The calf (Double Down) has obviously been listening intently to his biological mom (Bio Mom…aka…Thimble Full – no milk) during his in-utero gestation period. At his birthing, he looked all wet and gooey and Bio Mom was not even interested in one solitary moo. The heifer that has the milk whose baby did not make it (my fault) is doing her best to encourage Double Down that she will raise him like her own. However, Bio Mom indicates, “He is my baby.” But Double Down is nursing Wanna Baby and following Bio Mom. I sorted him and Wanna Baby off and put them together this afternoon and he took a nap next to her and she was happy. Bio Mom? Well, she’s pretty uptight because, “He is my baby.” The trio will spend the night together and we will see what tomorrow brings.

I took off with the pickup and trailer after the rain stopped to go get a cow that I had locked in a corral last night. She looks like she is packing twins and her mobility is minimal the last few days. So, given my current streak of, “Here, talented girl…try this”, I decided to lock her in the corral last night since she was there to get mineral. She looked at me this morning like, “What’s up? I come in to get mineral and you lock me up?” I load her up, haul her home and kick her out with the “Cedar Patch Sisters”.

I tell my trusty quad team of cowdogs to leave the pickup and load up on the steel steed. Off we go. Heading N to the rent place. I get over there and the cows are doing the normal morning pass thru a wooded area…picking up acorns that have fallen during the night. This is not really a good thing but since they have enough grass to keep them full their consumption of acorns is not enough to create death…thank God. So, my count is one short. And I figure is my last lone Rocking J Chi-Maine-Angus cow. So now begins the tedious adventure of going back and searching every part of the woods, the branches, the cedars, the rose bushes, buckbrush, ditches, nooks and crannies. Pass #1 – nothing. Ok. Pass #2. In a small ditch, in a huge patch of roses and buckbrush I spot 2 ears. For the love of God cow you cannot be serious. So, generally when a cow does something as stupid as this she is basically given up. I get as close as I can but I cannot see a thing in the area that I need to see – her butt. I think, “Hum. Now what?” I have to go around to the opposite side I guess. I guess what I’ll do is position myself in the direction that I need her to go so that we can line her out and head her to the rest of the pairs and on to the corral. I send Hawk, Ducchess and Bandit to see if they can get her up and bring her on. Realizing that this is going to be one helluva deal. Bandit’s toes are far from being ready to use, but it is what it is. He’s not a faint of heart kind of cowdogs. These cowdogs have no concept of pain and pain does not even remotely stop them from their work. The cow gets up and she is not going to go anywhere (so she thinks). Now Levi, he is with me and he’d being patient but wants to join in the task. After about 5-10 minutes of “one stubborn cow”, I look at Levi and tell him to go on. The cow is getting headed, heeled, space and enough time to make a decision to come my way. But, she is not interested in leaving her death trap. I fire up the steel steed and tell the cowdogs, “Bring her on.” They turn up the heat because we are now at the point of move it or deal with it. After several minutes of, “Look Lady,” she decides it is time to leave the death trap. Up the hill, over the hill and into the woods we go. We pick up several pairs and the cowdogs want to just bring the problem cow. I tell them, “Look back and bring them all.” So the cowdogs spread out and go back to bring the pairs and one heavy. Through the woods, down the hill, across the ditch and the pairs peel off to head N. The problem cow hangs back…we know, thinking she will slip off and head back to the death trap. Ducchess and Levi have taken off to head the N bound pairs back my way. Bandit see that the problem cow is stopped and beginning to turn and head back in the direction that we just came from. He anticipates her move and beats her to the punch, spins her around and heads her across the culvert crossing. I go on because the cowdogs have the situation under control. The pairs that broke away are headed back my way, the problem cow is a few hundred yards away from the group and Bandit and Hawk have her heading to the corral. I get to the barn lot to open the gate. It wasn’t long and the cowdogs had their cows in the lot. I would have been SOL…once again…had it not been for my cowdog calving crew. Their faces were shredded from the rose bushes and thorns, blood everywhere. I told them to go get a drink and they gladly dove in and swam around. We leave to go home and get the pickup and trailer. I got soaking wet from the cowdogs being in the stock tank but that is no big deal for what they just did for me. The calf pulling went off without a hitch. The calf was alive because it pulled its tongue away from me. It was past time to be out of its mom though. It had pooped in the cow and its tongue was just a tad firm. The cow was petered out and went down in the chute but that was no big deal either. The calf wasn’t large. The cow was just lazy and laying in that stupid, tiny ditch. She couldn’t push right so she never dilated. I’d say she’s eaten too many acorns too…just a little too fat in the pelvic area. But she could have had this calf if she had just not selected such a wrong place to have the darn thing. Bad decision making on her part. I was glad she was not wound for sound.

It was just another on the fast fox trot kind of day. Had to chuckle while fishing around in the cow to get the feet strapped up and where I needed them. I had a flashback moment to a lecture from a gentleman that I used to be married to, “You stay home and do nothing but cows. You need to get a real job.”

~Want Ads Here I Come!

~~Update…Bio Mom, Wanna Baby, Double Down~~

Saturday, October 19th.
Well, it is official. Bio Mom, Wanna Baby and Double Down are one big happy family unit. Double Down is one tough baby to catch sucking Wanna Baby. The trio has been living in a lane and a piece of grass along a building. Double Down had found a nifty place to lay. A place where he was out of the wind. A place that he could catch the sun’s rays as the sun passed from E to S to W during the days. Bio Mom and Wanna Baby slept with him, watched over him, took naps with him and came to check on him as he slept and they grazed or went to water. Today was the big day. I opened the gate to the pasture so that Bio Mom and Wanna Baby could go back to be with their sisters and the sisters’ babies. What will happen? Will Bio Mom come back for Double Down? Will Wanna Baby go to where she began her own parturition process? Will Double Down follow Bio Mom and forget about Wanna Baby? As the day wore on, long about 5:15 PM I went for the “before it gets dark” heavy check here at the home place. I didn’t see Bio Mom. I didn’t see Double Down. I didn’t see Wanna Baby. I made my rounds through the heifers and went on to a pasture of cows. I had actually forgotten about a cow that was off by herself this morning. I kinda was in a rush to find her so I left the heifer pasture. I found 4H839 and she was at the farthest corner of the pasture in a fence line corner. She was grazing…well, more like frequent nibbling…but she was also really loose. The loose poo and frequent poo’ing is generally a sign of emptying her bowels so that she prepares herself for calving.

I had my four regular cowdogs – Hawk, Ducchess, Bandit, Levi – plus a calving crew student. A first timer – Sly. I had them on the ground and they posed no threat to 4H839 so I thought, “Well. While she is in a good mood and you have to be on the ultra fast track in the morning why don’t you just see if she will mosey on home. It was just a little less than a mile so it was worth a try even though there was a possibility of Sly wanting to “rush” things along. I gave the, “Psst, psst” and the 4 regulars fell right in behind the cow. Sly was very quiet and followed suit. Surprise! I was actually holding my breath and keeping calm because I figured it was just a matter of seconds before Sly was going to put 4H839 into another gear, then another, then another! He’s been used to gather dry cows, work the weaning lot, the corrals and load trailers but he’s never been with 4 other cowdogs to move one sole cow. A pregnant cow that did not need to be at a trot, fast trot and a lope for a mile. Let alone a few head shots for good measure.

Things went positively great. Sly was mostly paying attention to what everyone else was doing. He rated the cow. And I never once had to idle him back, talk to him…nothing. He kept his eye on her and just went with the flow. We got her to the place where I could shut a gate behind her and let her just mosey on up the hill by herself. I really wanted to get back to searching for Bio Mom, Wanna Baby and Double Down before it got later and dark. Just in case I needed to take them on back home for the night…depending on if Double Down looked like he had been nursing during the day. The cowdogs and I traveled the heifer pasture in reverse order and didn’t find the trio anywhere. So we went slowly back through the pairs and the heavies. Still, nothing.

The cow 4H839 was a few hundred yards from the drylot. The moment of truth for Sly had just arrived. I crawled over the pipe fence. The 5 cowdogs were right with me. I paused. Wondering, what is going to happen when I ask Hawk and Ducchess to go and bring me the cow. I tell the cowdogs, “D o g s…down.” They all laid down. I said, “Hawk, Ducchess…bring the cow.” Levi and Bandit popped up, paused, looked at me and I said, “Boys, down.” They laid down. Sly had not moved off his original down. He was listening, watching and not moving a muscle. Hawk had puttered on and was behind the cow and Ducchess was 1/2 way there and walking towards the cow yet looking at me wondering if she was next to get a “down”. I said, “Ducchess, go on, bring her.” Ducchess quietly went on, in behind the cow and by this time the cow was ready to buzz on back to where she had come from. But Ducchess quietly moved in front of her and gave her a quick and pretty gentle nose grab. Nothing hard, just enough to turn the cow back towards the drylot. Back up the hill came the cow with Hawk and Ducchess trailing her. Hawk ran the drag, Ducchess ran the flanks, I was at the gate holding the other heavy cows at bay. When Ducchess and Hawk had the cow turned to come in the gate they stopped and waited for the cow to enter the lot. I shut the gate and thought to myself, “Man, oh man. What would I do without my cowdog crew. And that rookie in training Sly, was perfect on his first calving crew run.”

I was happy and I let the cowdogs know I was pleased. “D o g s…that’ll do. W o o H o o!” They popped up like turkey timers and came running to me for hugs. They deserved hugs…all of them. But Sly was just like a “smiling kid”. He was so excited about getting to come along. Off we went. And off to our right, ahead of us, along a brush pile I spotted two heifers. From a distance it looked like Bio Mom and Wanna Baby. We buzz on up to check. And sure ’nuff, there was Double Down nursing Wanna Baby with Bio Mom looking on. All three were content as peas in a pod. I told the cowdogs to come on and we left the happy family of three – Bio Mom, Wanna Baby and Double Down. I thought, “Man what a relief. At least I could try to sleep tonight and not worry about Double Down. Bio Mom, Double Down and his new 4-sure nurse cow mom “Gotta Baby”.

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This is my heifer (11S-51H774) that had her 1st calf die last night about 9:45…my post of “An Oh No Sunday”. She had that little guy shining, spotless and all fluffed up. When I went early this morning to load her calf to haul it away, she was just moaning, crying, totally devastated. I opened the gate and she immediately came and walked away. I loaded the calf and headed in the direction of the mother. But the mother was nowhere in sight. I got over the hill and there she was. At the exact spot of where she began her calving process…the exact spot that I began her trip home last night to pull her calf. She was hungry and grabbing grass, crying, moaning, pacing, smelling the ground, just desperately thinking her baby was there, yet not there. I took her calf to the woods and dropped it off for the predators. It will be gone by morning. I went around and checked the other heavies and pairs and the broken hearted heifer just paced and meandered and bit at the grass. I went on, sobbing with her and regretting that I could have done better.

After checking all the heavies I decided to try to do something productive to take my mind off the sadness, a task that I need to get done…gather up a bull, haul him home and work on his back feet. He bruised a hind foot last winter during breeding season. Given his size and the punctured sole he laid around a lot and his hind toes grew long and odd. He has strolled into the arena this morning and I locked him in. I went over with the trailer, backed up to him at an angle to the fence, walked around and opened the gate, clicked to him, he got up and loaded right into the trailer, shut the gate, strolled by the back of the pickup with 3 cowdogs staring at me like, “What the heck.” I nodded, “What are you all lookin’ at? Yeah, that’s right your ma can do something right once in a while.” Off we went to home, power tools in hand and a little pain medicine. The foot work went off without a hitch and turned the bull with a couple of the “Cedar Patch Sisters”. He was happy – cows!

Tonight, around 5:15 I thought I best go check my heavy heifers one more time before dark. Don’t think anything is ready for tonight, but I’ll go anyway. Passed the sobbing, crying heifer and thought, “She looks awful. Tired.” Went over the hill, nothing going on. Head count is good. Come around the hill, heading for home and one of the heifers was lying near a terrace totally on her side and from where I was it looked as if her back was downhill. Striking fear and an oh my god in me. I get to her and she rolls up, flops around, and gets up. What? A water bubble. No way. But it was a water bubble, looked a bit old and the fluid was not clear or you could not see through it. It looked dark and dirty, cloudy. Bad sign. I look at Hawk, “Okay, bring her home.” Hawk bails off and turns the heifer towards home. I follow along until we get to the branch. The heifer tries to turn and go up the hill and back to her terrace. Hawk heads her off, I go on and holler at Hawk, “Just bring her on.” I went on. We were about ¼ mile from home so I went to set the gates and open the gates to the corral. Hawk came along about 5 minutes later. She had the “Bubble Butt” and some calf. I shut the corral gate and told Hawk, “Hawk, that’ll do. Hawk good girl. Hawk thank you.” Hawk wagged her butt like, “You’re welcome.”

I got my stuff all line and ready. Took a strap out of my betadine solution and began to explore the situation. Broke the water bubble, fluid is smelly and brownish-red, means the calf is stressed and had pooped and been long enough that the poop had gotten mixed up in the fluid. Thought to myself, “I would have never guessed her to be ready. Not loose this morning. No bag. No bag. No bag.” The calf’s feet are there, the head is there, the tongue is fine, pinched its ankle and it pulled its foot from my hand. Well, alive and kicking! What was happening was when the heifer pushed, the forward foot (the calf’s left foot) was turning sideways and going up and over the other foot – the right foot. The pull was easy but the darn foot was determined to hold up the show. Did it on me until I got the slack out of my strap and enough tension to keep the calf from pulling it away from me. He was lively, but dirty, smelled like blood and pooped. And he had pooped a long time ago. What a deal. So I put him in a sort of level spot and on a little bit of baby grass. Turn the heifer out and she walks on by. Move her around and back to her calf. She smells him and walks on. I think, “Great. You don’t want him. You don’t have any milk. I am sure glad I milked that other heifer last night.” At a distance, I hear the crying, sobbing heifer. I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be something if she would take this calf. She’s got a ton of milk.” I load up my stuff and head out. I needed to go back and close my pasture gates and open a lot gate. I get out into the pasture and here is the sobbing heifer. I drive by her thinking, “Have I got a deal for you! You can make both of us happy.” I casually get off my steel steed, open the gate and encourage her to go ahead and go on back to the corral where her baby was when it died. She looks at me like, “I’m outta here.” I tell Hawk, “Head her off.” Hawk quietly hops off the steel steed and squares up to the heifer, the heifer turns and goes into the big lot. Perfect. I shut the gate and tell Hawk, “Get ahead and bring her.” I go on to open all the gates back up so the heifer can come back to the corral. Hawk comes along with the moaning heifer and brings her into the corral. The heifer spots the wet, nasty baby. She moo’s at it, smells it, sniffs it, thinks ‘ick’, but she begins to lick it, moo at it, cranks her mouth open with a ‘yuck’ gesture, but she hovers over it in a claiming kind of way. The calf’s real mom is standing by, looking at what is unfolding. My empty glass, my broken hearted empty glass heifer is thinking about making my glass full, my new baby’s life better because she has milk, and the real mom looks on. My hope is that the broken hearted heifer cleans this little fella up and takes him as her own. She has excellent milk and obviously is an excellent candidate to be a mom. Her grand-dam and great grand-dam just left as bred cows this past March – due to the drought. The grand-dam was 12 and the great grand-dam was going on 16…both AI bred and with good mouths.

Long story. But my horrid day may just be ending with a miracle. I’ll know if a few hours when I got to check out the corral occupants. My broken hearted heifer may be a mom after all. That makes me really, really happy.
~Feeling God’s Love for my heifer, the new baby (and me!)

10:00 PM…Raining here. Calf has 2 moms. He is cleaned up, hair all swirly and in up-do style. He’s cruising between them for a meal. I think he is in good hands for the night…I hope. Opened the corral gate so they could have a bigger pen with water for the night. Oh, fingers x’d!

Tuesday, 7 AM…calf is perky, jumped up when I arrived. 2 moms hovering over him. He tends to follow his biological mom but he has milk swirls on his nose…doubt they came from his real mom “Thimble Full”. Raining. Left them, went to turn out the calf that came along last night when Hawk brought “Bubble Butt” home. He sure is a dandy calf and his mom is a really good too. Little breakfast and the day continues. Thank you for all the encouragement to this place! We need rain badly. So no cussing because it will make the day longer. Do have to go bring a cow home from another place. May have to use the tractor. Flexibility, right? Hope you all have a good or at least a decent day. ~T and the Cowdogs

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Well. How many of you like the 1st 7-10 days of calving and the last 7-10 days of calving? I don’t. It’s that magical time when the “odd things happen”. At least it is for me. My entire life of calving out cows and heifers – doesn’t matter if it is winter calving (January to early March) or fall calving (September to mid-October). Generally it is twins, something backwards, a leg back, a breech, had an upside down and backwards one once. Backwards calves can be not so bad or flat out bad. Cows don’t dilate which is bad. But, it they go a little long the calf may have a few less chances of bad issues. Or, it goes long it can have some bad issues. They can have a chance of drowning on fluid or have a harder time with getting the fluid to clear out of their lungs.

So. Today is Sunday. Family is cranky that I am not going to church. I have a cowdog customer coming and had scheduled their trip with them over 2 weeks ago. So I am out early. Why? Well, because there is always a chance of having “sheet” hit the fan…after all it is Sunday, a stranger is coming, and I am into the home stretch of calving…need I say more? I load up 3 cowdogs and off we go. First pasture to check is the heifers. Head count is good, everyone is up and present, one heifer is down along the fence she looks fine, head pings to me, “No, go down and make sure…go check her.” Toodling along, make a pass behind her, what the hell, one hind foot sticking out, for cryin’ out loud, figures, sure it is Sunday, a person is coming in a few hours for schooling himself and his cowdog, I’m only on the 1st pasture, bad omen because I just said to myself last week, “You haven’t had a backwards calf this season…yeah…shut up, you know what happens when you think of stuff like this, it is bad medicine, you’ll get one now.” Well, need I say more?

So. I look at Bandit, Levi and Hawk. They look at me because they know that ‘look’. I say, “Well dogs. I guess you get to gather these up and take them home.” Ears perk up and they are at attention and ready to bail off the iron steed. We are at the far end of the pasture (of course). But it is only 8/10th of a mile to home. There are 5 pairs, a heavy and Miss Troubled Butt. “Ok, go bring em’.” The cowdogs bail off and head back to gather up the cattle. I go on ahead. The cowdogs are bringing their little bunch of pairs, a heavy and Miss Trouble Butt. We get over the hill and the rest of the pairs are scattered in the pasture. I wonder if the cowdogs would go ahead and cover the whole pasture and bring all the cattle. I look back and the cowdogs have maintained their little group in a bunch and are bringing them on and by-passing the rest of the cows and calves. I think, “That’ll work.” I get on up to home and open the gate. The cowdogs are a couple hundred yards behind me. I wait. Just like a well-oiled machine. They bring their little group of cattle on up and through the gate. I could not have been more pleased. I go on to open the gates to get to the corral, the cowdogs bring their little group, I wait at the gate and let the heavy and Miss Trouble Butt go by and stop the pairs. Perfect! Go back, open the gate to let the pairs drift back out and buzz to a point to get a signal. Figured I just best call for help. This heifer is a dandy. A 5th generation heifer out of my cattle breeding program. And then I laugh (sorta), “Yeah, a dandy alright…backwards calf?” It will be at least 30 minutes before help arrives. But, I know it will be more like “an hour”. So I am getting the corral set and notice that 2 5-year olds that I sorted off and brought home a few days ago are now trailing around the lot with their tails in a kink. I think to myself, “I am sure glad I brought the ‘Cedar Patch Sisters’ home the other day.” There were 3 of them and their favorite hangout is the cedars…at the other end of a place I rent. One of the “Cedar Patch Sisters” calved yesterday. So at least I got that right. Right?

Help arrived 75 minutes after the call was made. Which 75 minutes is close to 30 minutes, right? So the vet is the guy that cut up my bred cow that “______” shot. The vet is asking me questions, I am replying and all of a sudden the cow strains and shoots poo all over his face. I apologize because he had just ask me a question which to answer him I had to look away at what he was asking about. I am answering him when I hear, “Shit”. I look around, wondering what he’s talking about. It all happened so fast and I just barely missed getting my hand over the poo shooter. I say, “Well crap, I’m sorry, I should have not looked away cuz I could have stopped that.” He kindly replies, “Oh heck, it’s okay.” I know it is not okay, because I’ve eaten pie at times when I’ve been pulling something alone. Heck, I got 4 pee showers Friday when I was working on 3H617 – my 1st mistake of the calving season (which I posted about a couple of days ago). We get Jr. out and as he hits the ground he takes a gasp. I say, “Well, I’ll be damn.” The calf is pretty much toast or overbaked because he had poo’d in the cow from stress. He struggled to breathe and I gave him a little Dex. He began to take in air a little easier. I drag him to a pen, turn the heifer out and she goes right to him and cleans him up. I tried to feed him and he’s a little slow yet tonight. His attitude is pretty good but his hips and hind legs hurt and I’d say he is a little oxygen deprived from being overbaked. I milked out his mom this evening so that I can try to get him to perk up overnight. Might have to sleep in the pickup because the coyotes will be around about 10. Suckers.

I hate the 1st several days of calving. And, I hate the last week or so of calving. And I knew better than to think of the things that hadn’t happened. Because look, I caused myself a reminder of the obstacles that can happen with a backwards calf. And by the way. The “Cedar Patch Sisters” calved while I was fiddlin’ with the cowdog customer. And the 2nd one to calve decided she wanted the calf of the 1st one to calve. So I sorted the 1st pair to a pen and later on I kicked them out to a pasture and the 2nd one to calve got all concerned and came into the trap…perfect…so I shoved her calf in with her. Will have to make sure the coyotes don’t jack with her too.

Sleep? What’s that? Did I mention I hate the 1st and last part of calving?

Just a little less than 2 hrs. from the original post…the calf died. I hate this.

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Today was a “good grief” day. Kinda started with yesterday. I basically forced myself to wrap my day up early so that I could get home by 4 to feed cowdogs and be at the house by 5 so that I could get cleaned up and to a church meeting by 6 and then stay for a second meeting. That second meeting…aka church council…lasted until 10:30 PM. I was so whipped I sat down a bit before I needed to go hunt for and check a cow that gave me pause when I checked some heavies at 10 AM. Well, that bit turned into waking up at 6 AM this morning. I was in a panic to say the least. Sprinting into work gear, out the door, load up 4 cowdogs and off to go find the cow I should have stayed home with “the day before”. A quick buzz around the pairs and heavies and sure ‘nuff, she – 3H617 – was not present. I heard her bawling a groaning moo…more like a distressed cry. Exactly what you don’t want to hear. After all these years of calving in all sorts of weather – spring and fall – one learns what the tone of cow bawling can mean. This groaning and bawling was of distress, concern, sadness. I had to backtrack to a point in the ravine where I could cross the gravel bar. Back to the area where we heard the cow bawling. Yep, trouble. The color of the water bag or placenta stringing down was still good, but the length of the details was bad. Plus, no feet. Plus, no dilation. First notion, backwards calf. Second notion, twins. Third notion, dead. Fourth notion, well at least I’ll be able to save the cow. Fifth notion, head back to the corral to see if we can call or move some of the heavies and pairs into the lot or alley to hold them until I get back with the pickup and trailer. Suppose to get “hot” today…15 degrees above normal…and already getting warm because the cows are beginning to shade up. I get several cows and calves to stroll to the lot. I lock them up and buzz on to get back home to come back with the trailer. With some of the cows in the lot, maybe I’ll get lucky and 3H617 will head this way. The only problem was that 3 pairs were headed her way. No big deal, it is what it is. I get back with the trailer. The red cow, 3H617 has actually traveled closer to the corral. Well, the game plan is to send 2 cowdogs after her and keep one cowdog with me so that he can watch my side of the ditch. Just in case she barrels down the bank and crosses the ditch. I tell Ducchess and Hawk to hunt her up and bring her. The cow turns and heads away. Now, of course Bandit is watching all this and he’s ready to buzz on to help. Well, I send him from my side of the ditch and tell him to get ahead with hopes of cutting her off before she gets to the other pairs. I head back to the corral. The cowdogs are out of sight in the trees and around the bend. The cow has about a 1/8th mile head start. I go to set and change gates and to move the cattle in the corral. I don’t hear any barking. I don’t hear any pair’s commotion with bawling that the cowdogs have arrived…thinking 3H617 has probably gotten to the pairs. I’m thinking, “Hum.” I don’t hear the trouble cow bawling. She had headed back to where she had tried to calve. I’m thinking, “Hum.” A few minutes go by, nothing. A few more minutes go by and I see movement of cow legs through the brush. Then, in a tiny open spot in the trees, I see the trouble cow moving at a moderate walk. Behind her, three cowdogs. One hazing left, one hazing right and one on the drag. I’m thinking, “OMgosh…what a trio.” The cowdogs bring her on down along the tree line to the ridge where the cow has to come down into the ditch to cross. The left hazing cowdog moves shoulder high on the cow, the cow bends and comes down off the ridge, crosses the ditch and heads E. The cowdog on the left moves up to head her off and bend her back around to the corral. The right hazing cowdog slows up to let the cow turn back. The drag cowdog just quietly stays on the drag. I’m at the gate. The cow comes right on into the corral. I open the gates to let her drift in with the other cattle, trail her on up to the alley to load her, she stalls, the drag cowdog gives her a heel nip, the cow walks on up into the trailer. I tell the cowdogs, “Good dogs, load up.” Hawk waits by the driver door, she hops in her place, and Ducchess and Bandit come around the side of the trailer. Bandit is limping and carrying his left from foot up. It is smooshed. He loads on the flatbed with a smaller whimper of pain and a sad look on his face. Off to home we go. Get home, get things to work on the cow and buzz on to the corral. Well, the hand feels two front feet, a nose and everything seems to be in place. Ah, front legs are crossed below the knees and the calf is lying on its side. Tongue is ok, but hard. Feel around, hum…dead. Well, the deal was that as the cow would push on her calf, the legs would cross clear up to the knees and the head was pushing sideways and trapping behind the pelvic bone. A freak deal. The main problem was the calf was tilted on its side just enough to get off in its direction to the pelvic opening. Not a big calf, just not making it far enough into the pelvic opening to get dilation going on. Bad deal. I sure wish I had not have scurried around yesterday to get to two meetings at church. I should not have left my post…my responsibilities. It is hard to accept screwing up. But, I screwed up and got my priorities out of sync. Pretty hard to take. Totally unacceptable. And poor Bandit’s foot is swollen badly. I think he has a broken toe. I will know more in the morning. Poor cow, poor calf, poor cowdog. Bad manager. But, a person could not have been more satisfied with the cowdogs’ performance. I love my smart, savvy, gritty, common sense cowdogs. Could not function without them. ~Thanks guys.

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