Pipi’s Pasture: Memories of calving season
Cattle have been an important part of my life since I was born. I lived on a Hereford cow/calf ranch at Morapos all of my growing-up years.
One of my prized possessions is an enlarged photo that my brother Duane (Osborn) framed for me. In the old photo, I’m 2 to 3 years old, and I’m standing behind a Hereford calf. The calf is lying down, I have my hands on his back and there’s a great big smile on my face. My love for cattle started early.
I was away from the ranch during my college years and when I was first married, but later on when our boys were 4-H age, Lyle and I moved our family back to Moffat County where we started raising cattle, only on a smaller scale than when I lived on the ranch. I still have a few cows here at Pipi’s Pasture, and I can see one now as I look through the window. She’s happily chewing her cud as she stands in the sunshine by the corral fence.
This time of the year I miss calving season. I calved out a few cows the spring after Lyle died, but I couldn’t have done it (with having to get calves started nursing and such) without the gracious help of my neighbor Skip Kostur. So after that, with my kids being out of state and not wanting to bother people, I decided not to raise calves at present. The cows help keep me mentally and physically healthy.
Right now I’m thinking back on calving seasons that go back way longer than I care to admit. Some of the highlights include:
- watching cows “wander” the pasture (nonchalantly, of course) as if nothing is going on, like cows do when they’re hunting up a place to calve — something that often goes on for hours.
- hearing a cow’s soft “moos” before I can see her, realizing that she has already calved.
- watching a calf find its first meal and marveling at a calf’s instincts.
- seeing a cow and calf snuggled up together in a straw stall at night.
- watching a cow clean up her newborn.
- walking a big pasture, trying to find a calf born out and not getting one bit of help from the mother who hid it out.
- finding a calf asleep on the feedlot on a sunny afternoon, wiggling its ears and feet as it dreams.
- feeding warm colostrum to a newborn calf, to get it started.
- assisting Lyle pull a calf to help a cow and then watching the cow get up and start cleaning off her calf that is perfectly fine.
- watching cows, during feeding time, as they eat hay from around calves that have bedded down there.
- giving a calf a tag with his number.
- worrying about new calves during a storm and then at next morning’s feeding time watching them come jumping through the snow, knowing all is well.
- putting bag balm on a gentle cow out in the pasture, to treat her chapped bag.
One memory of calving season is checking cows at night. More about that next time.
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