While I would LOVE to breath a sigh of relief, that is not going to happen. Calving is almost done, we have about 10 more cows to go, and we have started planting! Actually I have disappeared for awhile due to crazy hours in the fields. We are almost done with our corn planting and then we will be onto soybeans. For the time being I have a moment to sit down and tell you about the scariest part of my job… the mama cows!
While I dearly love the time with our calves, I wouldn’t exactly call this time of year cute and cuddly. Actually I pray more during calving than any other time of the year. I mainly pray for safety. Sometimes you just never know what you are getting into. The job should be simple right? Catch the calf, move the mom and baby over to the pasture, give the calf some bling (ear tag) and check gender. This could take 5 minuets or an hour depending on the mom cow. While we have many friendly mothers who know the routine, there are others that just kinda freak out. I have never held the glare of a 1500 pound animal as she angrily stares into my soul until this year. The only thing between us was the ATV and I’m pretty sure she was considering jumping it. This is the part where I say a quick prayer… multiple times… plus a few more… and consider that things can get bad very VERY quickly. We trust that our Lord and Savior will keep us safe, maybe send some guardian angles or something, but let me tell you, not every day is a piece of cake.
There are a few stories I can recall from this last calving season. We had two crazies, as we call them, this year. I don’t think they even cared about their baby, they just like to try and run us over. Both times my prayers were answered and the cows would go from trying to charge to a moment of confusion where they literally just turned around and ran off in just enough time for us to get the calf and do our thing. My husband had to park next to a hut and clime on top of it in order to even get off of the ATV as the cow would try to get him the moment he stopped. Usually they leave you alone on the ATV, but this one was different. I have walked into the barn to feed and had two more cows literally charge the fence. Great way to start the day! While it would be so much easier to just leave the cows and calves alone, it is necessary to check the calves. We make sure they are nursing and healthy. This is the price we pay. After everything is checked and good, we move the two where the calf can have shelter and we can ensure water and feed every day for the cow.
As you can see, there seems to be a pattern with things happening in pairs of two here, but needles to say, while calving is the most precious time of the year, it is also the most dangerous. I don’t know the statistic, but more people die from cows every year than deer. On the contrary, like I said before, most of our cows are very gentle. We even had one cow that waited until we drove up with the ATV and cart, she moved over by the ATV to wait, we got the calf and as soon as we shut the door on the cart she came back around to follow. We got out of the pen and she led us to the pasture. She stood out of the way while we worked the calf and then nuzzled her with love when we were done. (Fun fact, if you read my blog last year, this was Buddy’s mom! Buddy lived in our basement for a week.)
I have said it and I will say it again. This is my favorite time of year! I love to watch the calves as they grow, play and interact with the others. Yes they still kick hard, some can be rambunctious, and the mothers are not always the best, but to be part of a new life coming into the world and doing everything in your power to help it grow and thrive is the best feeling in the world!
Originally posted on Dare to Dream with Rachel.
Rachel farms with her husband and his family in West Central Illinois where they raise cattle, pigs, corn and soybeans. You can learn more about Rachel and her farm on her blog: Dare to Dream with Rachel.