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!
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.
Guess what? Casey got the all clear to get back on a horse! Please pray for her safety.
Here’s a quick run down on how the calving shed works.
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.
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.
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.
That’s the cliff notes story on calving. Below are a few feeding pictures.
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?