Spring Break in the Calving Shed


Some kids get to go to Disney World or the beach for spring break.  My kids get to go to the calving shed.  They are so lucky!


Calving shed feeding crew

Not everyone can say they cleaned out calving pens and fed hay every morning during spring break.  When you think about it, it’s very exotic sounding.  And since there was still almost a foot of snow on the ground in MN and it had yet to make it out of the 30’s for more than 15 minutes since October, the 50 and 60 degree weather felt down right tropical.  Then there’s the added bonus of not having to buy a swimsuit.  It really is a 5 star vacation.


Anne cleaning pens


Max mastering the wheel barrel

Guess what?  Casey got the all clear to get back on a horse!  Please pray for her safety.


Casey and Beauty

Here’s a quick run down on how the calving shed works.


Heifers enjoying their breakfast at the calving shed

The heifers – cows who have yet to have their first calf – stay in a pasture near the calving shed.  As their pregnancy nears the end, they stay in the pens right outside the calving shed.

Every couple of hours someone slowly walks or rides through the pens and checks to see if anyone is showing signs that labor is near. If you look closely in the picture below you will see feet protruding from the back end of the cow.  This is a good sign that labor may have started.


Once labor has begun the cow is moved to the alley way for privacy – because who wants an audience when you’re giving birth – and she is watched closely.  If she seems to be having trouble or things aren’t progressing then she is moved into the shed and the calf is pulled – which is kind of like when they use the forceps.

Once the baby is born, cow and calf are moved into a smaller private pen inside the shed to bond.  The calf also gets an ear tag with a number matching his/her mom – just like the ankle bracelet in the hospital – and his/her first vaccination.


The private post delivery suite.


Anne making a new calf tag


Grammy getting ready to tag and vaccinate the calf while Anne strikes a pose. It’s important to strike a pose during tagging and vaccinating, it makes things seem more sophisticated


It’s also important to strike a pose while feeding hay.

As long as they are getting along well and nursing is going well then the next day they are moved back outside to a bigger pen which they share with other new moms for a few days.  Each day if things are going well – they are bonding, nursing and staying healthy – then they are moved down a pen until they reach the end of the line and then they are loaded on a trailer and taken on a short trip down the road to the pasture, where they will stay until it’s time to head to the mountain for the summer.


Loading calves to haul out. Four against two but the calves are quick and sneaky so you never can be sure who has the upper hand.



Team work is what it takes to get them loaded

Ryan drew the short straw and got the night shift this year.  Just a few days ago things started slowing down enough that they pulled him off the night shift and let him come out into the daylight again.


Ryan basking in the sunshine after about 6 weeks of living in the dark

That’s the cliff notes story on calving. Below are a few feeding pictures.


IMG_9126 IMG_9124

A few other random things.

These are deer.  Their job is to to linger along the edge of the road from dusk until dawn and suddenly jump out in front of vehicles.  It helps to keep everyones reflexes in tip top shape and also keeps the vehicles from looking too nice for ranch work.


This is Mom and Dad taking a ride in the bobcat because ranching and romance go hand in hand.


And here’s how much things can change in a year.  A year ago, Grammy was bald and Toga was a puppy.


Grammy’s got her hair back and Toga is all grown up…..well, at least she’s bigger.


And this little guy wasn’t even here yet!



Yes, it was a great spring break.  Who needs the beach anyway?

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6 Responses to Spring Break in the Calving Shed

  1. Anne says:

    Great post–thanks for the smile!


  2. Kara McCarthy says:

    No place like home, smiling happy kids, everyone spending time together and still smiling, miracle of birth… priceless Jody! Somehow I feel have that homesick feeling…what’s up with that? 🙂

  3. Mom says:

    What a difference a year can make! Glad you bagged the beach and came home instead. Hay Kara, everyone should have a WY home. Ours is big enough to share and many hands make light work, so if your feeling homesick come on over.

  4. Ivy May (down under kiwi mamma) says:

    Thanks for sharing your special week with us. The boys and I really enjoyed the photo’s. it has also made this Wyoming kid a wee bit homesick. Take care, Ivy, Colin, Aedan, and McGregor

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