From Pipi’s Pasture: It’s calving season
February 28, 2019
Calving season has started here at Pipi's Pasture, a little earlier than we planned, but it's here, nevertheless. More often than not, the first calf of the season is a surprise, which forces me to take inventory of calving supplies and head for the feed store. That's what happened this year. Now, we have two more calves, so we're really into the calving mindset. Just as fall, winter, and spring have those things that identify them as seasons, so does calving season.
It's calving season when …
• The corral and barn lights are on all night long.
• Feed stores have stocked up on powdered colostrums, calf milk replacer, vaccines, medications, calf ear tags, and more.
• Veterinarians are on call all night long.
• The coffee pot is full all of the time.
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• Ranchers are out in the calving pastures on four-wheeler vehicles checking cows.
• Low barometric pressure "sets off" more calving than usual.
• A cow standing off to herself, trying to look nonchalant is anything but that — she's probably going to be calving before long.
• Cold, stormy weather is particularly worrisome.
• Ranchers keep their eyes out for scours and other diseases common in calves.
• Cow-checking takes place all night long, and it is so exhausting that "checkers" get so they don't know whether they're coming or going.
• A cow mooing softly usually means she has had her calf.
• You see a feedlot dotted with little calves.
• Meals are planned around calving season so they can be prepared ahead of time and warmed up.
• Barns, shops, and other warm places have newborn calves in them when the weather is cold.
• Ranchers sometimes take a bottle to a newborn calf that hasn't yet nursed.
• Conversations among ranchers includes the number of calves they have had to pull, how many calves have had scours, and how big the calves have been.
• You see calves playing "catch-me-if-you-can" on the feedlot.
• Stores sell more flashlights and flashlight batteries than usual
• One cow or a yearling heifer babysits a bunch of calves while the calves' mothers are picking at leftover hay or hay leaves on the feedlot.
Because there are so many variables, calving season is worrisome. Because it is a 24-hour job, it's exhausting, but it is also a rewarding time — even one of miracles. Calving season 2019 has begun.