Friday, March 6, 2015

Spring Might Finally Be Here

Calving season started about four days ago with the first couple of calves being born the day after what I thought would be the last cold snap of winter.   Almost immediately after I posted that it should start warming up, it turned cold once again, we had a couple of inches of snow, and then it turned even colder with a low temperature of 15 degrees yesterday.

It warmed back up today and all the snow has melted, it's supposed to stay warm for awhile, so I'm hoping that spring is finally here.  Over the next month or so, most of the spring-calving cows should be calving, calves should soon be running this way and that, the grass should start growing, and hay feeding will slowly wind down for the year.
Good reliable 5 year-old cow with her newborn calf
That's all the windbreak I need
It's amazing that every photo of a running calf looks like he's hunched all over like that
Due to the drought back in 2012, and the high prices being paid for calves in 2013 and 2014, I haven't been saving any heifers for replacements for a few years, so I don't have to do anything like getting up in the middle of the night to check on a bunch of bred heifers.  For about the next four to five weeks most of my workload will be walking around looking for cows that have just calved, catching calves so I can tag and band them, and then trying not to get stomped while I'm doing all that by the handful of over-protective cows that I have.  
Tools of the trade, a bander to band the bull calves and a tagger for ear tags
Last year, I got the wind knocked out of me when a cow head-butted me in the chest when I bent down to tag her calf, and after that I've been a little over-cautious around newborn calves which makes it more difficult to do the work I need to do with newborn calves.  But so far this year, I've slightly changed the way I catch calves and I haven't ran into any of those cows that seem like they would just as soon kill me as look at me, so I'm getting my confidence back and the work is starting to be a heckuva lot easier even though I keep an eye on everything the cow is doing whenever I'm messing with her calf.  

I've decided that there's some truth to the thought that when you're worried about getting hurt by a cow, they can read your body language, and then you're more likely to get hurt (but don't go doing anything stupid or you'll really get hurt).   There's probably some sort of life lesson to be learned from almost getting stomped by a cow, like mindset is everything and if you worry too much about something it's more likely to happen. Confidence is important, but over confidence will usually get you hurt, or something like that.
Two day old heifer calf, they always seem tiny to me at this point
After all my agonizing and worrying about the possibility of getting stomped by a cow, I had to include a photo of a calf to show the size of animal that's hurt me the worst in the past.  A few years ago, I tagged a calf about this size and when I let it go it nailed me with a lucky kick to my shin. I was limping for over a week, had a huge bruised lump right below my knee for more than a week, and was wondering after a few days if that kick had somehow cracked my shin bone.   

But I was never worried that another calf might kick me like that again in the same way that I have been worried about another cow knocking me down.   It's funny how that works.


  1. It seems like every year, I read of some farmer getting killed while working his cows. Most of the time it is older farmers who can't move quite as fast.

    We raised hogs and since most of our work was done while the sow was still in a farrowing crate, it wasn't quite so dangerous. However the boars could get aggressive during breeding time. I had one catch me below the knee once and three me over a five foot tall fence like a rag doll. I must say I smacked him a good one across the nose for that to let him know I was boss and he never did it again. But I always tried to keep a sorting board between me and them as much as possible from that point on.

    1. When that cow knocked the air out of me it did make me start thinking about what would have happened if I'd been about twenty years older which is one reason I've been overly-cautious since then. I'd rather work out a better way to work around cattle now when I'm a little younger (or not as old depending on who you are) instead of waiting until I'm older and deader.

      But the majority of the time I only have to be careful around the cows is right after they have calved and I'm messing with their calves. The only other time I might get hurt is when I have them in a more confined area like a pen or a chute where it's easier to get knocked down or pinned against a fence.

      But those are things that you have to do if you have cattle and I imagine that as you get older it's hard to realize when you aren't able to do that type of work safely anymore. As I get older, I've already started thinking that I'll probably have to change how I do things although I'm not exactly sure what I'd need to change yet.

  2. It has been perfect calving weather here this week. I wish it were this way all year long.

    1. We've had highs in the 70's for almost a week so far. It starts out in the mornings in the 40's and before noon it's warm enough that you don't want to wear a jacket or coat.

      The apricot trees are starting to bloom, the wheat is starting to come out of dormancy, and it seems like all of the sudden that all of the birds have came out and started singing. It won't be long befroe the grass starts growing and the trees all leaf out.