Friday, May 5, 2017

Calving and hiking

Well now. Calving season is winding down.

The first group (mostly red) were set to calve beginning March 1 for 70 days (which means they were exposed to the bulls for 70 days) so May 10 will be the end of that period. The second group (mostly black whiteface) were set to begin March 20 for 60 days, so May 20 will close out that period.

There are always some that come early and some that come late, but the end of May should be the end of calving. At a guess.

We're down to the last 15 or so, but they've been coming very slowly indeed.

This morning the weather was forecast to be excellent and as the sun came up it was indeed excellent. Clear, cloudless, deep blue skies, little if any wind, and temperatures climbing out of the low 40's and headed toward the upper 70's.

The birds were birding and the bicolor ants were swarming.

Horned lark.

Why we can't have nice things. Scotch thistle infestation on state land.

Over the last 10 days or so the weather has been cool and rainy with a bit of snow and more than a bit of fierce wind. Not ideal hiking conditions.

While the weather outside was frightful, I kept up my lifting and managed to get in a couple of miles of walking each day.

Today I had a hankering to hike the prairie, even though I didn't feel all that chipper. I have a theory that on the days you don't feel all that hot, you make the most progress. If you actually exercise, that is. Before I started I had to video the mad cow.

Today I started in the bottom of a gully on the south googie pasture. I chose that spot because I wanted to hike both sides of I-80. The gully on the south googie is part of a long gully that predates the interstate by about 10,000 years, so it continues on the north googie. The two are connected by a 7 x 5 foot tunnel. I don't know about the rest of the interstate system, but we have a pair of those tunnels in the two miles where I-80 divides the two pastures. They're kind of cool, and it's much easier to cross under than to climb fences and dodge traffic. And they're cool. Did I mention that?
Looking south across the interstate.
Death camas! Not wild onion.

The cattle pass-under. This is a shallow tunnel, not like the one I used this morning.

So I crossed under, then climbed out of the gully and made my way to the southeast corner of the north googie. I took a couple of pictures, than turned around and hiked west, making my way along the fenceline.

This fence is owned and operated by the state department of roads and lazy barstids so it pays to keep an eye on its condition. The state sure doesn't. They claim that it's actually just a right-of-way fence, and has nothing to do with keeping cattle in their place and away from traffic. They also claim the fence is their property, and only state-employed lazy barstids are allowed to perform maintenance on it. Which is stupid, but, state government. So there you go.

Fortunately, when the fence needs attention all we have to do is call the state patrol and tell them where the disaster is going to happen when all the cattle get through the busted fence and out on the road. Apparently the state patrol has some pull. In a short time vehicles from the department of roads and lazy barstids show up and disgorge a load of stoners and alkies and tools and supplies. Within a few months they've managed to fix the problem.

But I digress.

I hiked westward along the fence, traveling the two full miles of the pasture. There's a lot of up and down because there are a pair of deep gullies and quite a few hills. It's a pretty hike, and a good one to get the ol' heart and lungs going.

Nearly at the west corner of the pasture I picked up a trail road that led through an oil well site and out onto a county road. The road crosses over the interstate on one of those clever overpasses you see as you drive along. I crossed over, pausing long enough to take some pictures, then pressed on.
I don't think they even saw me.

Trusty companion.

On the south side and hiking east now, I decided to follow the trail road rather than the interstate fence. This added a bit of distance and a couple of extra hills. When I came to the south end of the gully where I'd begun, I followed the gully back to my pickup. By the time I finished I'd logged about six and a half miles and I was pleasantly tired.

It was then that I noticed that a couple of cows were busy having babies.

The first two did just fine.

The third one, however, had a problem.

Actually the cow didn't have the problem, the calf did. It was born backwards. It was also a big calf born to a three year-old cow that hadn't yet reached mature size. So big calf, backwards, cow not fully grown yet. Not the best combination.

Unlike most newborn calves, this one didn't begin to try getting up right away. It was alive and seemingly alert. It moved when touched or when the cow licked it, but didn't seem to have enough energy to get up.

A couple of possibilities. The birth could have been exhausting for the calf. He might be on his chinstrap, as they say in the Brit military. In that case he needed to get some food in his belly, and since he couldn't get up, he needed some colostrum replacer.

On the other hand, he might have had an hypoxic brain injury. When they come backwards their head is the last thing out, and the umbilical cord detaches while the legs and head are still in the birth canal. If all of this happens in a half-minute or so, it's fine. But if there's much of a delay from umbilical detachment to head out and breathing, it can be a real bad deal.

The calf didn't act like he was brain injured. He acted more like he was out of energy.

I collected a couple quarts of freshly mixed colostrum replacer and a stomach tube. I got a quart into his belly and he seemed lively but weak and unable to get his legs under him.

So I left the pair to give the colostrum time to work and Mama to do her mothering thing.

I'll check on them here in a little while and we'll see what we shall see.


  1. Might be touch and go on that last one, poor little critter.

    1. Yep, not looking real good tonight. If he's brain injured he'll likely die overnight. We'll know in the morning.

  2. I said a prayer for the little scutter.