Last Tuesday morning when Vicente went over to our leased farm to feed and check on the cows, he called back to say there was a new calf. I was already scheduled to go look at a new farm that was for sale that day, so I grabbed the new calf gear and ran over to the other farm to see if I could catch the calf.
You see, new calves are like new human babies. Wobbly and helpless. Except for calves, it doesn’t last very long, not even one day. Calves have to be ready to run pretty quickly to keep up with the herd and get away from predators. Since we touch our cows every day, dealing with new calves isn’t that big of a deal. But at our leased farm, the cows have a much wider area to roam and the moms will often hide the calves until they are a couple of days old. This is a problem because in order to do what we need to do to the calves, we have to catch them, in an open field. Which is pretty much impossible.
Knowing this I bravely headed off to our leased farm and started looking for the calf. He was nowhere to be seen so I finally started working my way away from the herd and back towards the back of the property. That’s when I found mom and calf walking towards me. The mom was #3 which was a surprise. #3 had gotten sick this winter from the bad cold we had go through the herd and she’d never really recovered her body condition. She looked pretty skinny. However the calf looked perfect so kuddos to mom for having such a good calf in spite of her rough winter.
Unfortunately for me this wasn’t #3’s first rodeo so as soon as she saw me she turned around and started walking away from me with the calf in tow. I casually followed behind her pretending I wasn’t there for her, and then angled off, pretending I wasn’t going to go anywhere near her. She then angled off the other way and kept going, not believing me one bit. Once I’d gotten past her, I walked directly behind her and tried to speed up my walk a bit. She of course sped up so I had one option. Wearing boots, heavy work pants, a t-shirt, a button down heavy shirt, and a heavy coat, and carrying about 15 pounds of various gear, I took off running across this field trying not to outrun mom, but the calf. I could only hope he was young enough still that he wasn’t quite at full speed. It looked a lot like this.
Despite being old and non-athletic I managed to put on a burst of speed and catch up to the calf who was not quite up to full speed yet. I scooped him up and hit the ground, being careful to be gentle with him. He immediately hollered to momma who wheeled around and came charging back, all while I’m on the ground with her calf. This is where having gentle cows pays off because she got to me and then stopped, rather than bowling me over. Of course, you don’t know that while she’s charging you but at some point you have to have faith.
This is as close as I come to a selfie. I had to hold the phone out and do a sorta selfie, which I don’t know how to do but it all worked out. Jr was a bull calf so after this indignity, he got rolled over and I banded him to castrate him.
That’s my view of mom, at my level on the ground. Imagine her charging you in momma protection mode. Thankfully she is a gentle girl, as all of our mom’s are.
By this point, the rest of the herd has shown up to see what is going on so I have quite an audience. In about 2 more hours it would have been too late to catch this calf. He almost had his full mobility so we were lucky to be able to get him when we did.
After this little sideline, I started my day. Just another day on the farm.