Here We Go…Calving 2010

If you’ve ever wondered what it is like to ride the range on the high plains of Wyoming during calving season … here is your chance. Saddle up, we’re burnin’ daylight.

Calving season begins with ‘getting our ducks in a row’, so to speak. Quite a bit of preparation goes into gearing up for the busiest time of year (for us).
In slang lingo, our ranching situation is referred to as being a ‘cowboy outfit’. There’s no hay or grain farming, no large farm-style barn or related outbuildings. Our cattle live in very large pastures just as the deer and the antelope do. For that reason, we calve later than some folks … mid April being the target date. We turn bulls out on the 4th of July so that the birthing time frame is in place.
We’ll be moving our young ‘first calf’ heifers home tomorrow. They reside in a small lot close to the house so that we can watch them carefully. I’m the night watchman – the one who checks them at 11 pm, 2 am, and 5 am.

The mature cows are in two groups in two separate pastures that are ideal for calving. There is good shelter in tall sagebrush and enough old grass for forage until spring growth comes on.
We’ll move some of the saddle-horses to a pasture that has a corral at one end of it so that they can be easily wrangled. This pasture is adjacent to the calving pastures.
At home, we make sure we have basic supplies for problems that could arise. I get out a ‘horn bag’ that fits over my saddle horn so that I can put a few things inside. We usually don’t have need of such things, but the old adage, “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it” is a good safety net.
So, it begins. Our first episode happened the other day, a pair of twins were born a little early. One didn’t make it and the other needed to come home for a little “TLC.” My kitchen floor has done this many times! Once the calf is ‘up & going’, she’ll rejoin her mama. We’re just getting our 2010 calving season started, stay tuned for more as we progress through this age old and true-blue American rite of spring … cowboy style

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  1. bonnie ellis says:

    Shery, What wonderful pictures. What a great ranch and I know you are a great calf "mom". God bless and I hope your season is fruitful. Bonnie

  2. Cindy says:

    Do you know what the flowers are at the top of your blog? We have some that are similar in our field and nobody knows for sure what they are. Love your blog.

  3. Debra says:

    I love calving season, to see all the new babies. The first time I saw a calf born was about two years ago. We have dirt piles in our front yard. Next thing we saw was a new baby calf. The babies and the mothers love to play on our dirt piles. The Lord has blessed us all.

  4. Kady says:

    So you’re the "Calf Whisperer" – kinda like being a Cat Whisperer (like I am), only on a grander scale. Your life is so different from mine but I so love reading about your ranching and wrangling. I think in a way, I’m living vicariously through you….hope you don’t mind. We faux cowgirls like to dream of doing the things you are. Thank you for the glimpse into your life.

  5. Vicky says:

    Shery,

    I am so glad I found your blog. I have always wanted to live on a farm/ranch. My mom grew up on a big farm. I loved visiting there during my childhood. I enjoy your pictures and can’t wait to see more calves.
    Blessings,Vicky

  6. RanchFarmgirl says:

    Thank you everyone for your lovely comments, I DO love to hear your thoughts and related joys & memories…so keep the comments coming! Everyone else enjoys reading the comments section too. The flowers in this week’s photos are wild sweet peas and buttercups (bottom pic). shery

  7. Linda says:

    How great – it all looks so wonderful. Love your Morgan. I can relate to the calf on the kitchen floor. We’ve had a lot of babies that had to be brought in including a baby billy goat that was brought to us by a young neighbor boy "please take him otherwise my dad says he’ll have to die". Of course we took him, he spent a few weeks in a bed behind our wood stove in the kitchen before it was warm enough to go out. My Mom would sit in the rocking chair by the stove and bottle feed in in her lap.
    Your baby looks bright and happy.

  8. Theresa Murphy says:

    Hi Shery
    Calving season is the best ! Like Christmas for me, can hardly wait to see what the calves look like. We’re calved out, much warmer where we are. My husband loaded alfalfa in Riverton, WY on Wednesday, should be home with it tonight. Your weather is quite a challenge.
    Theresa is southwest Arkansas

  9. Sonja says:

    Shery,
    I love your blog and the new babies! I live in the country and this is the first time I’ve seen baby calves in the kitchen…It’s Great!
    Bless you,
    Sonja

  10. Heather Hansen says:

    Beautiful photos. I’ve never been on a ranch in my life. I’ve been on a farm a few times…one of my dreams is to live on a farm/ranch someday. This was wonderful seeing all the photos of all the animals. They’re so beautiful and graceful…and it was really interesting to learn how you take care of the cows/calves. Beautiful :)

  11. katmom~Grace says:

    Shery,
    Thanx for sharing a part of your daily life with us…
    I luv the pic of your "hubby & baby" in the kitchen…white socks & all! lol!

  12. Cindy says:

    Can I come out and visit you all? I love ranch life. I work for free……maybe just feed me?!

  13. Rene' says:

    How great is that! Thanks for sharing. So sorry the one twin didn’t make it but how great it must be to have a calf in your kitchen.

  14. cora jo says:

    Shery, Awesome pictures! I so appreciate your blog and look forward to it as a homesick ex-Wyoming-ite!!! Keep up the wonderful job!

  15. irina says:

    wow that is awesome – glad you gave us pics thanks so much from the fiber girl horseylady

  16. Reba says:

    Thanks for sharing a part of your life from the saddle. I enjoy the pictures so much, and you explain it really well to someone like me (who knows nothing about calving)! Many blessings to you and your husband.

  17. Carol McElroy says:

    Shery, it sounds like so much fun, but I know it must be very hard work. I would just get too attached. The calvess in our area are so cute to watch, but I usually just see them as I drive by. You have an exciting life! One day I may have to stop by and say hello! Carol

  18. Ellen B. says:

    I am so blessed by each entry you make. I live vicariously through you! As an amateur/hobby photographer, I also love the photo collages.

  19. No calves yet here on our ranch. We still are below freezing most nights. I did buy a few plants at the hardware store and hope to get them potted this weekend.

    The brand inspector came by and asked if we would foster a couple of abused “Zonkie’s” they brought in. My husband said, sure. They are the strangest critters I’ve ever seen. They have the features of a donkey, but look like zebra’s. I guess they are hybrids-a cross between those two animals. The girl is shy, buy the boy is a mischief maker. He chases our drafter horses (weighing about 2800 pounds each) and our Quarter horses everywhere, but they are pretty sweet creatures. They were starved and abused really bad. I just don’t understand cruelty and won’t tolerate it.

    No wildflowers yet.

    Treesé
    Front Range Colorado Rockies

  20. We live on a family farm in E. Kansas. Small operation–a few Angus, quarter horse mare & a couple of ponies. Spent a winter on ranch in Montana belonging to friends–awesome experience! Just like you said–baby calves need to be in the "cooker" when it’s cold and night checks are hard but worth every minute! Wyoming is gorgeous–loved being there! Daffodils, Tulips, Bradford Pears along our drive & Redbuds are blooming–Springtime in Kansas! We will return to your part of God’s country!!
    Sharon
    Hillroad Farm, NE KS

  21. Bobi Compton says:

    Ahhh. Feelings of home. I was ranch born and raised. We had polled Herefords mostly, but some mixed breeds, a few sheep, pigs for eating, ranch horses and chickens. Always had a big garden and a couple of milk cows. Spring was always my favorite time of the year when everything is renewed and life abounds everywhere. Many times we had calves in the house especially when is was too cold outside when they were born and ears and tails often froze. Many times dad would come in with a frozen calf in his arm, yelling run a tub of warm water. He would leave me then with the calf to massage it back to life while he went back to check on the herd. One time our old sow farrowed in a blizzard. As the piglets arrived mom brought them into the house. She told me to keep the fire stoked…so I did. I was only 5 years old and didn’t really know the difference, so I filled the stove with all the small chunks of wood next to it. Guess what, it was pitch. Well those piglets got warm. Next time mom came in with a piglet she found the wall behind the stove dripping and the piglets laying on their sides panting. Well times have changed and we don’t seem to have that many blizzards any more. Mom and dad are gone, but a lot of the old ways are still alive and well. I will always love the spring.

  22. michele hieb says:

    How i love spring…those cute little ones playing in the fields and "kicking up their heels" so adorable…keep up the great work… C u soon my friend:)

  23. Betty Jo says:

    I love these pictures, I remember calving when I was a child in Harding County South Dakota. Love it, wow the memories. I no longer live on the farm/ranch life but love the SIMPLE life and the beauty of the the outdoors!

  24. O'Dell says:

    Hi Shery,

    I grew up on a farm "wanna be". We did have 4 horses, later a cow & bull…plus other various farm animals,as well as the many stray cats. I recall that we kids got the work part of the animals…mom was always expecting, and dad worked long hours away from home. Being a person of small stature, I found shoveling manure difficult, but helped anyway. My older sister rode the horses (I was too timid). One of our most memorable days tho, was one school day, when walking home from school. I saw numerous neighbors looking up our hill, in the roadway, with their pickups parked nearby…they were watching, as some of the men were trying to catch the bull, who was chasing my 40 yr old mother up that hill! It seems that my mother, always stern, always right, had decided to wave her apron at the bull, after he’d gotten out of the pasture, thinking he’d do as she ordered, and just walk back in. Guess mom learned something that day! It wasn’t long after that my father sold both the bull and cow. Another fond memory was our one duck…he loved spaghetti & meatballs (leftovers from our plates)…after he’d finished he’d have sauce all over his chest! We didn’t have a garbage disposal, mom had us feed all the scraps etc to the animals…spaghetti was "duckies" favorite.
    Now I have a yard that doesn’t have any real sun, so I plant in pots…but mostly my garden that blooms is of the quilting kind…I am looking forward to our move to Maine sometime, when I will have a chance for a real garden!
    Your pics are wonderful….I’m telling all my friends about the MaryJane website too….especially great to read, on days when its raining and gloomy out…picks up my spirits!
    keep blogging!

  25. I too am the night watchman on the farm. I just made my 11:00PM walk to the barn. I usually try to have my calves born in February to have them ready for the feeder sales beginning in September. Of course you know how it goes, you always have a few stragglers. If this one cow doesn’t have her calf soon I swear she is going to explode. Love your post, and of course those Hereford pics always catch my eye.

  26. Tammy Hoherz says:

    I just accidentally stumbled onto this site. I was pretty happy to see I’m not the only woman who has baby calves during calving season in her kitchen!
    Nothing like waking up in the morning to calf poop smeared all over your floor & kitchen cabinets!
    We ranch in SW ND, near the SD border by Lemmon.
    It’s sure nice to see a blog of like-minded women out there!

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