Thursday, February 27, 2014
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink...however a baby calf is something different entirely
When all goes well it sure can be a fun time. However, it's always best to prepare for a few bumps in the road. Last week we decided it was time to get Reba, our trusted nurse cow, ready for her part in the R4 calving season.We needed to wean her 700 pound calf but didn't want her to go dry so we needed a replacement. When some orphans came through the sale barn ring, Rob thought he better get his hand in the air. Baby calves aren't real cheap these days but we got ourselves one. The little heifer ain't much to look at but she was bawling for a mama and the price was right so we brought her home. Now drafting babies onto a new mother sometimes requires a bit more patience than my loving husband always has to give, so I assumed that once he exhausted his supply, I would need to be there to take over. Well Rob brought that baby into the barn with Reba, aimed her towards the goods, and assumed that they would be drawn together like some magical magnetic force. "Oh honey", I thought "if only it were that easy."
Wouldn't you know it?! That baby went to sucking like it was competing in the dinner bell derby. I couldn't believe it. I guess I'm glad that calf proved me wrong BEFORE I assured the hubs that his simple plan wouldn't work. However, in my defense and in my experience...it rarely happens so easily.
Shortly after buying Reba last year we put her right to work. Over the course of our calving season she probably had ten different babies on her. She would keep a calf fat and sassy until we had another cow to put the baby on. Then when it was time to go to pasture we decided she was up to the task of raising a couple more calves through the summer. We didn't have any spare babies at the time but a friend of ours was at the sale barn and brought us home a couple healthy orphan calves. And by healthy I mean 'huge'. They each weighed close to 200 lbs. We had thrown the two calves in with Reba but the three wanted nothing to do with each other. I knew I needed to go help them come to a mutual understanding. After handling calves half that size, the task seemed a bit daunting but hoping for a "good job, honey" from the hubs, I headed down to the corral.
I had come up with a system which had worked fairly well for me. I would grab the baby by the tail, pull him around to where I wanted, straddle him and get busy showing him where the goods came from. I figured if that worked for the little guys, with any kind of luck it would work for a larger version. So I grabbed a tail...and that's when the rodeo started.
I went out for one year of high school track though I didn't have much success at it. This could be due to my lack of ambition, desire and talent. I also attribute it to the length of my stride...it has none. But as that calf took off making rounds in that corral with me in tow, I think I might have been able to match an Olympic gold medalist step for step. That calf was determined to get away and I was equally determined to hold on for dear life.
Trying to lose me, the calf made a turnabout. Momentum as well athletic challenges kept me from making the same move. Now I won't call it the best open field tackle you have ever seen but somewhere amidst this riggamaroll...calf and ranch wife collided. It was a tangled web of arms, legs and hooves but when it came to a halt, I found myself on top. That poor calf just lay there. I am certain he was in shock over the 'come to Jesus' meeting he had just encountered. I was trying to get my wits about me so to use my current status to my advantage. I reached up to adjust my cap which had fallen over my eyes in the tumble. Low and behold, right there about two inches from our 'pile' was Reba's four finest points!
Wanting to make my move before the calf got his second wind, I wallored around so I could grab him by his face with a thumb in his mouth to open it while my other hand grabbed the milk handle. I awkwardly milked like a mad woman, aiming for the calf's taste buds. After I hit the mark a few times, my furry wrestling opponent realized the point I was trying to make. Boy, you would have thought that calf was tasting milk from the promise land! Before I knew it,he was on all fours and latched on like Reba had been his mother from the get go.
I am certain it was not text book calf drafting nor was it pretty, but by golly, the job got done. I got up and dusted myself off, all the while thanking the good Lord for the isolation of the R4 ranch providing some privacy for this particular display. I looked at that calf, filling his tummy like it was his idea and mumbled some encouragement. "Well, ya dummy, that's all I wanted for ya in the first place,."
That stupid calf did get me thinking though. I haven't always had a thirst and a hunger for the Word of God and His way of living. I've had my own ideas of what I thought I wanted. My poor parents kept bringing me back to what was right. When I finally fell flat on my face, left thirsty by things I thought would satisfy, I knew right where to turn...to Jesus and His Springs of Living Water;the same place they had shown me over and over again. Unfortunately, like that calf, I had to be wrestled few times. I am sure it hadn't always been a lot of fun for them, but I am sure grateful they didn't give up.
You know he never really said it...but I think that baby calf was grateful too.
And by the way...I did get that "good job, honey."
Friday, April 5, 2013
Who'd of thought cows were so darn romanctic. But I guess they are. One of the definitions good ole Webster tagged on romance was a mysterious or fascinating quality or appeal, as of something adventurous, heroic, or strangely beautiful. I guess the south end of a cow headed north might easily fall into that "strangely beautiful" category.
I always thought that bottle feeding orphan calves was a romantic part to the ranchwife's daily duties. There is something about providing nurture to another of God's created beings being neglected that sure tugs at my heart strings. Those sensitive heart strings are probably what God used to tug me into foster care. Well last year we took on some share cattle..half of which were old enough to vote. With mama cows too old to be raising babies, I got my heart strings tugged a lot. We had orphan calves a plenty. I am not gonna lie, the "romance" of feeding bottle calves faded about as quickly as it took to upload the pictures onto facebook of our first black angus orphan.
Bottle calves are a pain in the butt. They don't want to be fed when you first start out then they want to be fed all the time. They have the habit of biting the nipple off the bottle spilling the non too cheap milk replacer all over you. And they butt you constantly. You have to be there morning and night to feed them and after all that work they often don't grow to be worth a dang. And sometimes they die.
So this year, as calving approached, I suggested to the hubbs that we get a nurse cow and being male and never once entertaining the thought that bottle calves were romantic, he told me to start shopping around. After deciding exactly what I was hoping for and getting expert advice from others more experienced than myself, I finally found what I thought would be the perfect fit for us. We headed out to take a look at her.
And there she was...a four year old, Longhorn Guernsey cross. She looked kinda tough, a little western and meaner than she really is. They said she likes to eat and gets a little grouchy if you don't feed her on time. Her bag hung down almost to the ground and they told me if we had a calf whose mama wasn't feeding it, she was sure to claim it. To say that I felt she and I had lots in common would be quite an understatement...
So we loaded up "Reba" and brought her home. I already love that cow. The ole gal is worth her weight in gold. Now I am pretty certain she wouldn't fit in real well in a pen of four at the stock show nor would she win any beauty contest but I think she is the most lovely thing we own. Perhaps its another one of those "strangely beautiful" things. Or maybe I just love seeing my calf bottle washed and put away. But when I look out into the corral and see her mothering three calves besides her own...well it tugs on those heart strings.
But like I said, I AM a hopeless romantic...
Tuesday, April 2, 2013
The hubs and I had been married for close to six months. We both were employed by Uncle Pete (aka Union Pacific Railroad) and found ourselves both working "on call" jobs. This was a choice on his part, allowing for more time at home, less stress at work and a bit better income. All of which made for an easy decision. I, however, was working on call cause my seniority, or lack there of, allowed for no other options. It didn't take us very long to realize this particular arrangement was not going to work when we found ourselves exchanging passing (though very loving) waves on the road as one was coming home from work and the other was headed to work. We sat down, cussed and discussed the situation and decided we could live without the second railroad paycheck and I would become a stay at home mom and number one ranch hand for the R4.
And just like that I started living the dream I had almost forgotten I had been dreaming.
My heroes have always been cowboys...good song but also a reality in my life. How could they not be with my Dad being the best cowboy I had ever met. I always assumed that someday I would marry myself one. I remember working on a ranch for Cliff and Bonnie Quick. Bonnie must have suspected my hopes cause one day she gave me a piece of sound advice. "Mardel, flashy cowboys are a dime a dozen. Hold out for a cattle man. Now they are of high quality." I took her advice to heart, wise lady that she was. I mean the woman could cook bout as good as my own mother, could ride like an expert, work a hard day in the sun and not once did I ever see her with a hair out of place or her makeup a bit smudged.
So there I was looking for someone that could rope and ride as good as my Dad with the levelheadedness of a cattle man. But I gotta tell ya, when I was closing in on forty without a ring on my finger, I was plain and simply looking for just a man I couldn't have cared less if he was cowman, horseman, or the mailman!
You can imagine my elation the day the (future) hubs got down on one knee...awww who am I kidding...he was leaning up against his motorcycle, looked at me with those baby blues and said "We are getting married."
And yes, it was the most romantic non-proposal I could have ever asked for. Perfect. I couldn't have asked for more.
Kinda like my life. I had quit praying for God to send me a "such and such" man and had begun to pray that God would start molding me and working on me so that I would be ready for the "man" I was hoping He was bringing to me. And ain't it just like God...I got a cattleman, a horseman, even a Harleyman and to top it all off, a godly man, a funny man and a family man.
So, yes, about a year ago I started a new profession though I must say I am a long ways away from being a professional. I am just an amateur ranchwife. An amateur living the dream she had almost forgot she had been dreaming.
think, according to the power that worketh in us."
Friday, August 6, 2010
O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
A tiny turned up nose
Two cheeks just like a rose
So sweet from head to toes...
That little girl of mine.
Two eyes so big and bright
Two arms to hold me tight...
That little girl of mine.
Just what her coming has meant
Because I love her so
She's something heaven has sent