Monday, March 13, 2017

New Neighbors

We’ve had a glorious spring day. It’s been warming, but today the sun came out for the first time without wind since . . . forever. A choir of birds welcomed me on my morning walk to ranch headquarters – red wing blackbirds, meadowlarks, killdeers, robins of course, and a lone chickadee with his two tone lyric. 

We moved the drys (cows that haven’t calved) away from the main herd to a neighboring pasture. That’s always nice for Mark to not have to look through a couple hundred calves to see the new ones.

Seth rode our Muggins horse, and it was such fun to see him out in the herd with his Dad. He and Leah are here for a few months trying out the ranching life. They set up housekeeping in Grandma Bonnie’s home and it’s been grand to see new life there in that sacred space. The future is a big question mark. These kids both work remotely for agriculture firms and have the world by the tail. None of us know just yet how big a role the ranch will play in their future. We’ll just do this one day at a time, knowing that ranching is about relationships after all. Cattle and grass, horses and dogs, water and soil, older generations and younger generations.     

Leah fixed pork loin and seasoned red spuds the other night for their debut dinner party. We had a lovely time visiting and headed home about 9:00 pm. Mark then took his nightly drive through the heifers and called the rest of us back out to tend a prolapse. He had lightly assisted a heifer, a first timer, a few hours earlier. She had gotten up and tended her calf, but for some reason kept pushing and expelled her uterus. The calf was walking around out in the dark looking for his Mom who was in no shape to get him nursed. Leah took off with a flashlight looking for him, a newborn red calf with a brocle face and no mother. Sure enough, she found him and she and I loaded him in the pickup while Seth and Mark put the heifer back together.

Once in a while a cow will prolapse after giving birth; in this case we have no idea why because it was not a difficult delivery. The quickest remedy is to get the tractor and loader and put a tow strap around the cow’s back legs and lift her so that her hindquarters are upside down, which allows gravity to help with the procedure. Seth cleaned the appendage with soap and water and pushed it back inside, and then took a few stitches in the vulva for good measure. (Too much information?) Anyway, it’s messy business, but needs done, and done quickly and cleanly.

It was a mild, still, night. We got both the cow and calf back to the barn and I knelt in the straw to help the calf to his first suckle. A good ending. I’m not sure what Leah, not being raised on a ranch, thought of the whole affair, but it made for a memorable night for her first dinner party on the ranch. 

at the original 1904 homestead ranch headquarters

newly born about two hours after the move


  1. Lovely piece; continuity. . .what a legacy.

  2. This post is one of my favorites. Thrilled about your new neighbors.

    So glad the prolapse turned out well. I had to Google brocle face. In Arizona we had a run of what Woody the Herd Manager called calaveras calves: black on white faces in the pattern of Day of the Dead masks.

    Thanks for taking time out from calving to share this.