From Pipi’s Pasture: Tribute to mother cows |

From Pipi’s Pasture: Tribute to mother cows

Diane Prather/For Craig Press

On Sunday, mothers will celebrate Mother’s Day, and they deserve it! Just think how many times they burp their babies and change diapers and get up at night. And then, as their babies grow up, there is potty training and teaching toddlers to walk and talk. Later, Mom drives her children to softball practice, swimming lessons, Girl or Boy Scouts, 4-H, play practice … I could go on and on. Moms are special.

This week, I have been thinking about animal moms. For example, we’re with mother cows all the time, and I can tell you they’re special, too. (A note here: “Mother cow” sounds strange, but a cow is a mature animal, and sometimes, a cow isn’t a mother.) Anyway, here’s what I have noticed about mother cows.

A mother cow …

  • Cleans off her newborn calf and patiently waits until it gets up and nurses.
  • Keeps track of her baby when it is old enough to roam.
  • Goes crazy when her calf runs all over the pasture with other calves.
  • Doesn’t like her calf to run with the gang, a bunch of calves that pal up.
  • Insists, by bawling, bawling and bawling, that her calf come to her across the pasture, instead of going across the pasture to get it.
  • To get her calf’s attention, often bawls right in its ear.
  • Often stands over the calf to let it nurse when the calf has trouble standing (like some newborns that have their feet turned back for a short period of time).
  • Insists that a calf go with her to the other side of the pasture where the cows and calves are napping and then, within an hour or so, insists the calf go back with her where they were originally.
  • To get her calf from one place to the other, lets the calf nurse a little, walks away, lets it nurse a little more, walks away, etc.
  • Knows how to hide a calf when it is newly born and not give a hint about its whereabouts when we try to find it. (This happened before we moved to Pipi’s Pasture, where there was lots of sagebrush and other cover.)
  • Sleeps with her calf cuddled up against her to protect it from cold temperatures and storm; how she gets so close to the baby without ending up on top of it is a mystery.
  • In a shelter, often gets the calf in a corner and lies in front of it so the baby can’t get away.
  • Protects her calf from skunks, cats, crows and other animals she considers a threat.
  • Often lets an 800-pound fall calf nurse on her and is probably grateful when the calf is weaned.
  • Lets a calf nurse even though she is chapped from wind and snow and is probably terribly sore.
  • Enjoys washing her calf, and the calf enjoys it, too.
  • Often comes to the house and bawls until we follow her to the calf; she’s letting us know something is wrong — and it usually is.
  • When a calf is newborn to a few days old, takes the calf away from the herd and tells it to stay put. I don’t know how she tells it, but she does.

Happy Mother’s Day!


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