I always tell people that I keep these few cattle mostly as a hobby, something to keep busy with in the long winter months. If I make a few dollars selling the calves to cover my expenses I guess I won't complain. But some days , like today, I wonder.
This scruffy little cow looked a little suspicious at feeding time yesterday so I made plans to check on her later that night. Sure enough, got home in the dark with wind blowing and light snow falling. Shone the lights of the Blazer through into the cattle shelter and she was missing. I knew where she'd be, out at the other bale feeder. Its a nice sheltered spot, plenty of wasted hay on the ground to lie in. A smart cow and calf would do just fine but I had my doubts about these two.
I took the bale trail through the field (how did I ever farm without four wheel drive trucks?) and sure enough, illuminated by the headlights, there she stood. Another dark object beside her with it's eyes glowing, reflecting back my headlights. Good enough for tonight.
Next morning she came in with the rest of "the herd" for their oat chop. No sign of the calf. I could see magpies out by the far distant bale feeder so headed out to check. Plenty of hungry coyotes around and a new born calf without a cow to protect it would make an easy meal.
And there it stood. Wobbly little crooked legs barely supporting it but looking like it might try to walk to the barn.
If anybody had told me I was going to carry a calf that distance without stopping for a rest I'd never have believed them, but somehow I did it.
Into the penned off corner of the shelter with some dry straw, now try to get the cow in there. A pail of oat chop was a good attraction for her and with her head in the pail she gradually followed me in to the shelter where I was able to put up the gates and leave them for some "bonding time".
By five o'clock feeding time the cow was ready for some hay but the calf still did not look too lively. Ok, right after supper, because its no job to do in the dark, I mixed up some of the good old milk replacer and headed out to the shelter to try and teach another stubborn calf how to drink. At least get something into it's stomach to survive another night. Well, surprise, the calf is now standing up, still looking flat and empty but hopeful. While I gave the cow a pail of water to drink the calf started moving to the back of the cow and I soon heard the welcome sounds of a calf sucking milk. Great! Sometimes you get lucky. And the cats really appreciated the milk replacer that I didn't have to give the calf.