Friday, February 26, 2010

The Calving Game

Two years ago, when the weather was turning to spring and the promise of spring jackets and green grass was upon us, we had a birthday party for Anna at our house. Now, while the warmer temps lifted up everyone's spirits, and the festive atmosphere of a 3 year old's birthday made for a good day, Joe was wading in the muck. He had just taken over the cattle operation that spring, and was to deliver his first calves in a few weeks. However, on this day, when roughly 30 people were to come to our house for our party, one heifer decided to deliver early. . . in the mud. . . and the muck.

Did I mention ALL of our family was en route to our house??? And then his truck got stuck.

Thank heavens it was our oldest daughter's birthday. . . we all were happy and had our company smiles on when Joe finally came in covered head to toe in mud and manure. Thank heavens everyone there was either a farmer, farm wife or farm kid-- so nobody cared. And thank heavens the Webels are prepared folks, as his grandpa and dad pulled their Northerner boots out of their car trunks and helped out. That's what they have in their trunks. . . I have a stroller and a rubber mat to protect my trunk from aforementioned boots.

Anyway, calving is upon us, and it is seems to be like one of those shell games at a carnival. Joe has a good idea of which cow or heifer or bred heifer (There is a difference, they're not all just "cows" until they have more than one calf. . .thus, I was referred to as a "bred heifer" when I was expecting our first child, and then just a "cow" when I was expecting our second and third children. Isn't that lovely?) is getting about ready to calve, and tries to shut them in a smaller, "strawed down" area so he can check them all day and night, but some of them are unpredictable. And to my "type A" husband, that is enough to drive him to insanity. He walked over snow drifts last night after judging the FFA speech contest in his dress pants and tall boots to look after one expecting mama that was acting "calvey" (whatever that means) only to find, well, nothing. Until a set of feet or a water bag is hanging out, it's hard telling who's going to go and when. Sorry for the graphic description, but try to explain that to a three year old as she watches out the window!

Cattle work is hard, unpredictable, expensive, cold/hot (depending on the season), yet so rewarding for Joe, educational for our daughters, and an exercise in patience for me. Joe is so proud of his herd, and I am proud of his work ethic and the results he gets. He is in tune with the majority of his new mamas, and works hard to make them all comfortable. I am learning more and more about what to expect when the cattle are expecting, and now that another large birthday party is upon us, I am braced for unpredictability and a muddy husband!

1 comment:

  1. "Quick! Bring the old towels!" came the call from the back door. The kids and I sprung into action. Pull on the coveralls and boots, grab the old towels and run for the barn. There is something quite powerful about rubbing down a newborn calf in trouble, and ultimately saving its life. Is your freezer stocked with colostrum for those calves that can't nurse or lose their mom? Have you had a calf in your house yet?