“He had to pull it.”
The announcement of the open backdoor has been repeated more than once in the last week. Most people require a full decipherment to figure out what the five-word comment means.
It’s already spring calving time for many calf farmers in the Flint Hills. Extra effort is needed to ensure that every cow, or first calf in this situation, gives birth to a live calf.
Mother Nature works in her own often peculiar way regarding the birth of young, both human and animal. While childbirth is God’s planned continuation of generations, difficult problems often arise.
All cows can have problems calving if the baby is underdeveloped, too big or other problems, and will sometimes require human assistance. After a cow has had a calf or two, she generally has no problems, although there are exceptions.
However, two-year-old heifers more often have difficult calving situations that require help to secure a live baby.
Sometimes more of a problem with first-time mothers is that they don’t understand how to care for their newborns. The heifers are still immature themselves, becoming confused following the trauma of birth and ignoring their first calves.
Mature cows stay in native pastures year-round and do well with a daily inspection most of the time.
It’s not the same with the eldest heifers, so on this ranch they are taken to headquarters for extra attention.
According to the book, after making love to a bull, a female cow should give birth in nine months, nine days, nine hours, nine minutes and nine seconds. No one ever seems to “do it” so precisely. Some give birth in less time and others take much longer.
Two eldest heifers calved prematurely in the winter pasture. The rest are now in the backyard fence and checked every two hours or so.
Yes, so far two heifers have needed calving assistance. A mechanical mechanism operated by humans was used to “pull” babies out of their mothers.
Several other couples are in the barn protected from the cold and a baby is on the farm struggling to survive on human suckling.
Is it any wonder there is a shortage of beef and meat prices in grocery stores are through the roof?
Proverbs 7:22 comes to mind: “Soon he has the calf eating out of his hands. Before you know it, he’s trotting after her.
Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong Alta Vista rancher, lifelong newspaper writer, national syndicated writer, and marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.