From Pipi’s Pasture: Remembering the spring calves
November 6, 2015
The cattle have been gathered, and they're all back at Pipi's Pasture for the winter. Once they're home, it takes a few days for all of us, humans and cattle alike, to get into a routine again. Then we family members begin to check out the calves.
I remember checking out the calves when I was a kid growing up on the ranch. On gorgeous fall days, we loaded up into the pickup truck and Dad took us for rides around the hay meadows. That's where we put the cattle when they came home from the national forest, their summer home. One of the reasons for the rides was to check out the calves — to see how they had grown up over the summer. Some of the calves were as tall as their mothers.
Here at Pipi's Pasture we do the same thing, although it's mostly walking around the little pasture area. In the beginning it's becoming reacquainted with the calves. We remember many of them from their markings, but sometimes we have to check on tag numbers or catch calves nursing to remember who belongs to which cow. And, as with my childhood days, many of the calves are indeed almost as tall as their mothers.
This week I remembered some of the calves from this past spring when we watched them closely to make sure they got enough milk and weren't sick, and I marvel at the way they have grown.
For example, there's a red, white-faced heifer. I remember the day that she was kicking her stomach and getting up and lying down, signs of a stomachache. She wasn't bloated, but we decided to give her some mineral oil. Husband Lyle wrestled her to the ground, a feat in itself, and held her there while we put mineral oil down her throat. During the process, she got a leg free, scraped his arm and tore his shirt, but she was back to normal by evening. She weighs about 650 to 700 pounds now.
Then there are two grayish-brown steers — twin calves. They belong to our granddaughter Megan's cow, named Rein but sometimes called Moose because she is that big. She usually has twins, and this year was no exception. Lyle was home when the first calf was born, No. 48. He had nursed and bonded with Mom before No. 49 came along. By this time his mom had to look after the first calf as well as the newborn so it took awhile for No. 49 to nurse. He wasn't as aggressive and didn't seem to get as much milk.
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So I supplemented #49 with a little milk twice a day until the cattle went to summer pasture. He came to get a bottle the day after they came home from pasture. The calves thrived, are a good size, and Rein should be proud.
Grandson Kenny has had Cinnamony, a light orange cow for a number of years. This year she has a big black steer, her first-ever black calf, and what I remember about him is that he kept climbing up on the feed wagon with me this past spring. Of course, his mother tried to get up there, too.
One of the surprises of the summer is the heifer calf belonging to a registered cow named Tabitha. The calf was the first one born this season. She was small, but you'd never know it now. She is as tall as her mother, a real beauty!
Remembering the spring calves and getting to see how they turned out — it's one of the rewards of the business.