Pipi’s Pasture: Time spent at the corral

Diane Prather
Pipi's Pasture

Yesterday as I sat waiting for the stock tank to fill with water, I amused myself by remembering all the years I have spent at the corral. During the time we’ve lived here, I have walked back and forth to the corral at least twice a day — and usually a lot more — to feed and water animals, check cows during calving season (both night and day), and to help with branding, sorting cattle, and a whole lot more.

Over the years, the corral has undergone repair, usually to replace gates and corral poles that cows, and particularly bulls, have bent and broken due to rubbing, but it remains about the same since we moved to Pipi’s Pasture about 20 years ago.

The corral is divided into three pens — one at the back of the coral, where cows enter from the pasture, and two more in the front. The pen at the front right has a loafing shed and a cozy little pen with its own gate and an alleyway that leads to a calf table. This side of the corral has been used to house expectant mothers during calving season and for feeding older cows so they don’t have to compete for food. The smaller, cozy pen has been used mostly for bottle calves.

The pen at left front has been used mostly for penning up bulls during the winter. A loafing shed once stood there, but the bulls found it to be a perfect place to scratch, and eventually they rubbed it down.

The corral is a source of lots of memories, but one of my favorites took place some years ago.

It was calving season and probably around midnight when I pulled some clothes over my nightwear, put on my coat, grabbed a flashlight, and headed to the corral for a cow check.

As I passed the main gate into the pasture — right here by the house — I noticed a cow and calf standing there. The Hereford cow and calf belonged to my granddaughter Jessica. I don’t remember why the cow was out here since Jessica’s family lived on property north of Craig at the time, but anyway, the cow had calved several days prior, and the calf had nursed and seemed to be doing well. Now, however, she looked a little bedraggled.

I sensed that the cow had brought the calf to the house to get help so I put down the flashlight and used its light to help me see my way to get the cow and calf down to the corral. As other curious cows looked on, I got the mother and baby into the front corral where there was light and managed to get the calf in the “cozy little pen.”  I put a finger in the calf’s cold mouth. She nursed on it.

I hurried back to the house, retrieved the flashlight, and made a bottle of warm milk replacer. Back to the corral I went.  I didn’t have any problems getting a hold on the calf and putting the bottle’s nipple in her mouth. The baby drank the bottle right down and then went to the back of the pen where she cuddled down in the straw for a nap.

I put the mama cow in with her calf and closed the gate. The next morning Lyle and I went to the corral and tried to milk the cow. Her bag was hard. Eventually she started giving a little milk,  but thereafter the calf got milk replacer each day, and she nursed on her mother as well.

It was a night at the corral that I will always remember.

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