The weather has been very clearly predicted. For the last few days all we’ve heard about is the coming storm. Snow predictions measured in feet, howling winds, nights with temps around zero.
It’s the middle of calving season. As much as we all want grass and some moisture for the coming year, no one wants this.
The weekend was spent getting things ready. The heavies, the springers, the cows closest to calving, are already sorted off and in a pen with good shelter, close enough to keep an easy eye on. I saddled up and made one last trip through the rest, pulling anything that looked remotely close to calving. Even one who I’m pretty sure is just so obese that everything on her jiggles. I don’t actually believe she is bred, but better safe than sorry.
Once all those were in we went through them all again. Looking carefully to try to choose between the ones who look like they could calve, eventually, and the ones who are teetering on the brink. Those were brought in even closer into the best possible protection we have. They were tucked away with plenty of feed and straw bales to bed down on. I was gratified to find two new calves in there the next morning. We had selected well.
Then a cow calved out in the usual calving pen.
Dang it. How do they do that? No matter how closely you look them over there’s always one who calves the day after you sort, in with the ones you didn’t choose.
Although it snowed all morning, the afternoon was clear. The calm before the storm. I went to brig the pair in. The cow saw me coming and started pawing when I was half way across. This was going to be fun. It was a pleasant surprise when she picked her little heifer calf up and walked quietly and agreeably across the pen. Because of course she had the calf on the far side. I got ahead of myself thinking how good this was going.
We got to the mud puddle at the gate, because of course there is a mud puddle at the gate. The calf stopped to sniff and it all went to heck. The calf hooked onto the fourwheeler and would only follow me, not her desperately calling mother. And only when I was going away from the gate. Not if I drove in the direction I wanted them to go. The mom was getting grouchy and looking me very intently in the eye. The other cows were minding their own business trying to eat. Until we disturbed them and they had to get in on the fun.
Finally getting the calf between the fourwheeler and the fence I was able to give it a shove, move her a few feet ahead. Then I’d pull the fourwheeler ahead to catch up. Then shove the calf along again. In this slow leapfrogging manner we made it through the gate. As soon as I puled away the cow came running.
We were almost there.
I closed the gate behind the pair and asked them to keep going. The cow, head high, looked me in the eye and said no. I stepped through the mud puddle to ask them to go. I felt a slight tug. Before comprehension set in I set my foot down and felt icy water through my sock as my bootless foot sank down into the muck.
My boot had stayed behind with the last step. I was nose to nose with a grouchy cow, ankle deep in muck, wearing only one boot.
Apparently the noises I made at that point were scarier than anything I had offered up until then. She showed that she really could get her calf to move if she actually wanted to and off they went. I was forced to chose between putting my ‘muddy’, we all know there’s a lot more in that muck than mud, foot back in my nice clean boot and hopping back to the fourwheeler half shod.
I shook my foot as clean as I could get it and put my boot on. Now the cow would be in the warmest safest spot I could get her to. I hope she appreciated it. On the cold drive back to the house I was starting to think I should have left her!