From Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering cows
Monday morning, I was standing on the feedlot watching the cows as they pushed one another around, trying to get to the choicest hay. I was waiting for Lyle to bring a second load of bales so I could spread the hay out. Maybe it’s nostalgia surrounding the holiday season, but for some reason, I started thinking about cows I’ve known over the years.
A young, light-red cow, Shivers, walked up and stood right in front of me. She was trying to figure out where she could eat her hay and not get pushed around by the older cows. I thought back to the day Shivers was born. She was old Ucky’s next to last calf. Shivers didn’t have a lot of hair when she was born, so she shivered more than most newborn calves, thus her name. We weren’t sure how much milk old Ucky could provide, so I helped her by feeding Shivers bottles of milk replacer. (Ucky, by the way, is still alive and around 21. She spends her time in the corral, where she gets grain twice a day.)
The years have passed, and as I stood there watching Shivers, I wondered when she grew to be such a good-sized cow. She has raised one calf and is expecting another this spring. After all this time, if I take a bottle of milk to the feedlot because a calf is in need, she will be right there for a handout.
Another memorable cow has an awful name. I bought her as a calf from another rancher’s herd. It isn’t unusual for a cow to not want to accept a calf, but it is unusual for a calf to not want to accept a cow. That was the case with this white calf. The only way we could get her to nurse was to put her mother in a chute and put the calf up to her. It got so that, when the calf heard the sounds made by the chute, she would run up to eat. The owner said the calf was brain dead. The name stuck. I bought the calf and bottle-fed her.
Brain Dead turned out to be a good cow. Her only bad habit was finding a hole in a fence and crawling through. Brain Dead raised a bunch of calves over the years, one that became a 4-H steer for our grandson’s project. Today — though Brain Dead died of natural causes here at Pipi’s Pasture — her granddaughter and daughter remain with the herd.
I have written about Sarah before. She’s a light-colored cow. She is about 22 years old, and as calves, she and Ucky were raised together. An older daughter of hers and the twins are part of the herd. There are plenty of experiences I can recall that involve Sarah, but perhaps one of the most remarkable was her bout with eye cancer. I noticed it and took her to Dr. Wayne Davis before it progressed very far. He removed the eye. That was about 12 years ago, and she has done just fine with one eye.
And then, there was Pipi. She was Angus/Simmental, so she had a black-brown coat with brown markings on her white face. The tips of her ears froze when she was a calf, so it appeared they had been cropped. Pipi was a smart cow. She could always be counted on to lead the herd across the road, from one part of summer pasture to another, which was a big help, since cows can’t seem to find a gate when we want them to.
One summer, Pipi had a late calf and so stayed here at Pipi’s Pasture. Whenever a bicyclist passed by on the highway or the telephone repairman stopped to do something at the pole, or anything else that drew her attention, she called up her calf and took him to the corral.
Lots of cow memories! This is wishing you warm memories during the holiday season!
So much for the models that predicted a cool, wet summer for us here in western Colorado — at least I think it’s hot this July. Ranchers are probably relieved that it’s been a good haying season, and after the cool spring, it’s nice to have a “normal” summer, but it is indeed hot.