According to the calendar, it’s spring. Spring in Moffat County means that there likely will be wind, rain, hail, snow and sunshine all in one day, just like it has been today at Pipi’s Pasture. It also means that for most ranchers, calving season is underway. That’s what most ranchers are talking about, anyway.
You know it’s calving season when…
■ You meet up with neighbors and calving is the main topic of conversation.
■ You walk to the corral a minimum of six times per day.
■ After days of sunny weather, a cow starts to calve during a blizzard.
■ The flashlight battery gives out on the way back from a nightly cow-check at the corral, and you have to walk over last year’s garden stubble.
■ You don’t go to the corral without a bottle of milk replacer or colostrum — even if you’re not sure you’re going to need it; that way you don’t have to walk back to the house.
■ The shop refrigerator is stocked with a variety of vaccines, and the tagging gun, tags, and syringes are on a nearby shelf.
■ You forget to mark down some calves in your calf book and have to think way back to a week ago as to the dates of birth and other information.
■ You sort off the cows that should calve first and put them in the corral; the cows on the feedlot calve first.
■ For the first time ever, the cows surprise you with three sets of twins.
■ The cows eye the barn cats suspiciously.
■ A cow pacing but staying off to herself means business.
■ You spend a lot of time trying to decide if a newborn calf has nursed, and neither the cow nor calf will tell.
■ Your chore coat smells like milk replacer, and your shoes smell a whole lot worse.
■ You have a nightmare: a first-calf heifer is having problems calving, and she’s out in the pasture, scared to death, and you have to chase her into the corral.
■ Supper is in the crock pot.
■ You pray the calf lying flat out on the ground is just asleep.
■ There are some suspicious spots on the ground, and you wonder which calf has scours.
■ A calf has crawled under a piece of machinery and now can’t figure out how to get back out.
■ After you start down the hill on the last half-mile home, you cross your fingers, hoping you won’t find anything out-of-the-ordinary in the cow pasture.
■ The cows have become unusually private; they position their bodies so you can see their heads only.
■ You’re so tired that you fall asleep while watching your favorite television show.
■ You’re so tired when checking cows at night that you don’t remember whether you’re getting up or going back to bed.
■ You’re so tired that you forget to turn in a column for the newspaper because you thought it was Monday instead of Tuesday.
■ You realize that there’s only about a month left to go of calving season.