As a rancher’s wife I get to enjoy the simple pleasures of raising cows. I love it! We brand the cows, doctor them when they are sick, yell at them if they are bad, or hug them if needed! (Okay, maybe I am the only one giving them hugs!) I am also the resident shot giver; I castrate, and I have even got to preg test. For those of you who don’t know what that is, this means I put my entire arm (past the elbow) into a cow’s hiney checking to see if she’s with baby. It sounds challenging, but for me it was one of the most incredible things I have ever experienced. Getting to touch an unborn cow 3-4 months old was amazing.
Each spring our cows have babies. These bundles of tiny black baby cows are so very adorable and gawkily all leggy and furry!
Their big dark eyes with long eyelashes just melt my heart! My kids and I just love to watch them run and play bouncing around our pasture without a care in the world with their mother’s close by keeping an eye out for them.
But good doesn’t exist without bad and occasionally we will have a mean cranky mama that, for reasons unknown, won’t claim her baby. Maybe it was from a set of twins and the mom only claimed one, maybe its hormones, (they really can stink!) or maybe the baby is too scrawny and the mom is impatient. All the above said, maybe its just nature’s way.
This is where I get to step in and play mama! I get the wonderful opportunity to help a brand new baby calf discover its first meal. These babies are tiny, scarred, and really hungry, but they haven’t been taught how to suckle yet! So I get the joy of patiently teaching them how to do this. I start by standing the calf up and straddling it between my legs, with its fanny backed into a corner. Believe me this can be a challenge if they are weak or really terrified!
I then stick my finger in its mouth prying its teeth apart and hoping that instinct will take over and they will begin to suck. This may take more than a few times or sometimes only a couple. Once they get the hang of this I swiftly try to cram a big over sized calf bottle with warmed colostrum into its mouth and hope for the best!
Most of the time this works! We won’t really get into the next step if this doesn’t! That’s a whole other story! Anyway, this is what I got to do first thing this morning! I got my first unclaimed baby of the year!
She took to her bottle rather quickly and I got the satisfaction of a mama’s job well tended to. My baby is now cuddled up in a ball and sleeping sound! She is just lovely! With a face only a mother can love!!