Champ The Calf™ and Other Stories
April 9, 2012 § 6 Comments
It’s been one of those “calving days”. Loosely translated: 72 hours or so of exchanging calves in and out of the warming tubs, barn, pickups, Scout’s kennel: pretty much anywhere that is relatively dry and warm.
A good three day or so stretch that is currently testing everyone’s patience, resolve, and tempers.
More than a few sharp comments have been made. A couple of minor, very minor wrecks had the potential to develop into full on “oh sonofab#%^h!” wrecks.
We’re all tired. We’re all edgy…and we’re all just trying to do the best we can.
In the end, that is all you can do really. Do right by each other, do right by your creatures.
DAREDEVIL THE CALF
This poor little guy. I don’t know what else to do with him. Along the calving pasture at Carrie’s Grandpa’s ranch is the old county road. It has since be re-routed and a triangle piece of pasture is fenced off for use. There is about a 40 foot culvert that went under the old road…that is Daredevil sized, and darned if he didn’t get in there, and make his way into that triangle and get lost. In the flurry of new calves, a storm, and day to day operations he slipped through the cracks–and spent at least a day out there. His Momma couldn’t call him back since I suspect the boy is blind, and deaf. I’ve never heard him bawl, and he turns in a slow circle in the barn as he looks for Momma.
We’ve gotten him to nurse his Mother, but it’s hit or miss. Literally. There just isn’t anyone at home upstairs for little Daredevil. As of this post, we regressed to me tubing him for his evening meal. <sigh>
On a positive note: His mother is an absolute sweetheart. Any cow that will let me put her in the maternity pen twice a day with little or no fuss is good by me. She’s even gotten to the point where I can be in their pen, and trying to feed little DD while she munches on some hay. She has been very tolerant, in a very cruddy situation for a cow. I’m sure she’d much rather be out on the feedline with her buds. At least I have moved out the other cold calves, so she and Daredevil have the “Sun Light Suite” in the barn. I can open up the doors and put a panel to keep her in, and she gets sun for most of the day. Gotta stay positive.
THE INCREDIBLE HIDING #624
This little bull calf is amazing. Firstly, he’s pretty big. Secondly, he can hide anywhere. We try to move pairs out to another pasture once they’re a few days old. So far, the 624 cow has been kind of a pain in my rear end to deal with. She calved on Saturday, which is when the in-laws have pretty much anyone that could be related to them out to their place for a giant meal, social event, good times, Easter Egg hunt, etc.
Based on the storm, the amount of chores and new babies I had–I already knew I was really, really, going to be pressing my luck to arrive on time. I dashed into the house to announce to my lovely bride (who was dressed to the nines for Easter–looked great baby)! that I may have a calf to attend to. A quick check of the clock and I got the look.
I had about 9 minutes to deal with it, or I was officially off the roster as being a good son-in-law.* I went back outside to find that 624 had calved in quite possibly the worst spot of all time. About 3 inches of water, and in the wind. Pretty much a no brainer. I snatched the calf and dashed for the house as it was my last dry tub where I could put a calf. I think Carrie figured it out pretty quickly that I would not be arriving on time with her as I had a calf across my lap and that hurried demeanor that I usually associate with life and death situations, and disappointing my Mother-in-Law.
Long story short: I fed, and warmed the calf–and dashed him back to his mother a mere 35 minutes after the festivities started, snuck the calf back to Momma…AND: she wouldn’t take it. #$#@%^!!!!!!!!!
To put a close on 624 and her incredible hiding calf: I’ve lost this calf since Saturday no less than 5 times. He’s at least 9 feet tall, and can hide in 2 inches of sage brush. He’s amazing. I just spent a good 2 hours on my horse looking for it tonight–since I have suspicions about his Mother…and finally found him about dark. Just in time to head inside and check on: Daredevil aaaaand: The star of the show: Champ the Calf™.
Champ the Calf™
If you can’t cheer for Champ the Calf, you probably hate Santa and puppies. This poor guy has had pretty much the worst first days of life, ever. I found him about 5am, by himself in the corner of the calving pasture.
I am fairly sure he is a twin, but in the tumult of the storm, and new calves everywhere, finding a mother that would claim him proved impossible. We tried. We conducted in depth interviews with every cow in the herd, but each one had an alibi.
“I was in the windbreak behind the shop”.
“Nope. Sorry. Head in the feeder”.
“I was actually incarcerated in the barn at the time”.
“I was GIVING BIRTH, d#^%!bag”.
As you can see: we didn’t have any luck finding Champ’s Momma. He’s gotta be a twin. He is TINY. And vocal. He really likes to let you know he’s around, and is actively looking for Mom.
Champ is the calf in the picture at the beginning of the post, and after I warmed him up, I figured I had a good lead on his mother. I turned him out and as he bellered, two cows came running in for him. Good sign…except those two cows picked up calves and left the area…leaving Champ to hang out with me. Who, as it turns out: he doesn’t really want to hang out with.
Things have a way of working out on the ranch. #266′s calf unexpectedly died. No visible rhyme or reason. No real red flags that we should have caught, it just died. It’s sad. I don’t like it. I’ll refer you to another post of mine to see how I feel when things don’t go well–but in this business and lifestyle, you have to keep going. There isn’t time to really grieve, or shut-down. These animals need you. Sometimes even bad things have an opportunity.
Such was the case with Champ.
I’m supposed to be telling our agriculture story. This particular story may not be right and proper…but…it is what it is. In a case such as this: there isn’t really any way that #266 is going to just let Champ start nursing her because she lost her calf. There is a certain unsightly element to this “grafting” process that may cause some readers to get a little squeamish.
I warned you.
I don’t like it either. But, if one has to die, and I can save another? You just do what you have to do.
The calf that dies is skinned. Yes. Skinned. I cut the hide off of the dead calf, and fashioned Champ a “jacket”. Sounds horrible, right? Agreed. It is. But again: I’m taking a calf that has already died, and trying to save a calf that has no mother.
The end result is a little calf that stinks like Hell, but has been accepted by a mother that lost her calf–so two broken lives are made whole. A smelly, stinky, disgusting Fairy Tale ending.
So yeah. Cheer for Champ.
Just don’t get too close.
*I have actually never been on this roster–but here’s hopin’! -Ed