Calving Season 2020

“I’m ready to start calving heifers until it’s time to start calving heifers.” Haha! It’s the time of year where One Cute Cowboy hardly get to slow down (not that he does very often anyway) but this time of year especially keeps him busy, checking on heifers all day, everyday and through every night. This seems to be the time of year my readers are most curious about so I decided to do a little update.

Instead of “Mama Bear” more like “Mama Cow”
A lot of nights when I look out my windows, this is my view. One Cute Cowboy out in the barn, taking care of mamas and their babies.

This year One Cute Cowboy had a different plan for calving. This winter he and my father-in-law built some panels and gates to make part of our tack house into a calving barn. I’m so dang proud of One Cute Cowboy and how this turned out! Normally, if a calf had to be pulled it was done outside, in a chute, no matter the weather. Then if it was really cold, we only have one small calving barn that would only fit one pair, so if we needed to warm up more than one pair, we had to take the calf to be sure and get the calf warm, leaving it’s mama outside. But now I’m happy to say, we have 4 pens for pairs, and if we needed 5, we still have our small calving barn that is actually now the home to our ranch cats. 😊

I was trying not to disturb this mama and her new calf.

Not 24 hours after I’d written this draft, the stalls were filled! 4 mamas and their sweet babies!

This is the time of year that can be both incredibly joyful, and incredibly heart-wrenching. I love seeing the baby calves being born and the mothers that take them and love them, protect them, and feed them. Then there can also be a lot of hardship in this season…really in ranching itself. Losing calves and sometimes mamas. Seeing a mama reject her calf. Seeing other mamas trying to claim calves that aren’t theirs. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, ranching is not for the faint of heart, especially during calving season.

Ranch cat, Sinatra, calving expert.
His apprentice, Hap.

I’ll be honest, being a lover of the whole animal kingdom, there are times that ranching life seems especially hard. I believe all true ranchers are animal lovers though, we wouldn’t do what we do if we weren’t. I’m incredibly proud of my heritage and lineage of cattle ranchers and cowboys and cowgirls. I’m immensely proud of my husband who day in and day out works on caring for and improving, and educating himself on what’s best for our herd. In the barns and at home. 😊

I’m thankful to have the opportunity to bring my son up on the ranch in today’s world. To teach him compassion and kindness to all God’s creatures, courage and bravery in times of hardship, and knowing how to have work ethic and not be afraid to lend a helping hand; these things I pray for him. Thank God for the rancher.

February on the Ponderosa

February started out moving a few of the cattle off of corn stalks back to the ranch. Luckily we’ve got these portable pens. This comes in super handy, and saves a lot of time not having to load, haul, and set up panels. It’s all right there and you just “unpack” it.

We’ve continued into calving season and having babies left and right it seems. The cowboys are still checking all through the day and night. One particular night, when it was frigidly cold, I heard One Cute Cowboy coming back inside from his 2:00 a.m. check, and I heard him call my name once he came in the back door. I thought, “Oh crap! He wants me to come help him pull a calf. Should I act like I didn’t hear him?” But I got up out of bed anyhow to see if he needed my help, when I rounded the corner, this is what I saw…

This little guy was probably about an hour old when OCC went out to check heifers. Said he was just shivering, and mama hadn’t cleaned him off very good, so he brought him in the house to warm him up a bit. We gave him some colostrum and wrapped him in a blanket, put a heat lamp on him, and went back to bed while Nurse Hershey kept watch on him through the night. She is absolutely infatuated with the baby calves.

The cowboys have stayed busy to say the least. There’s a lot to pay attention to during calving season. You’re not only watching new heifers, but you’re having to watch the cows too as their calving. Just because they’ve already had one or two, doesn’t mean there still can’t be different things to watch for and complications.

One Cute Cowboy tries to ride through the cows that are calving, on horseback at least 4 days a week. You are more apt to notice if there are problems if you see the cow in her natural state, rather than chasing the feed wagon, wanting to be fed. You get a better sense of how she and her baby are getting along and if all is well. One afternoon, One Cute Cowboy called to ask if I’d bring out the drench with some colostrum. There was a mama who had had a hard labor with a pretty big calf, and the calf was real lethargic either from being so big, or the labor being so rough, so it was detrimental to get some nutrients in him to give him the energy to nurse by himself. So I drove out to the ranch and we drove out to the mama and her calf. He then told me, when he rode up on him and his mama, he looked out and there were 4 coyotes laying down in the taller grass, waiting for that mama to leave, thinking the calf would be easy prey. The smart cookie he is, he got the cows closest to them to come up and he fed them some cake near the new baby and mama, knowing good and well, that many cows wouldn’t let those coyotes anywhere near this new baby (or their own babies staying at their sides.) That can be something really cool about cattle, they really are “pack” or “family” oriented with one another. This little guy was so dang cute and he was big! He drank the colostrum right up and you could start to tell almost immediately in his eyes that he was starting to perk up some! I love the hair on a newborn calf, they’re so silky and soft. This guy was so sweet. Luckily he had a good protective mama too. If OCC hadn’t been horseback, he might not have ever seen him and unfortunately, he probably would have ended up dying from lack of protein and electrolytes to get up and have that first nursing of colostrum. A couple days later, One Cute Cowboy rode up on him sunnin’ just as content as can be! Pretty cool to know we helped save a life!

The last couple weeks the cowboys have been consolidating wheat pasture cattle in anticipation for shipping in March.

As for me, I can’t believe it’s already March!! Won’t be long now until this heifer calves out! Haha!

Hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s ranching series! I’m always appreciative of my readers, and always glad to hear from y’all or answer any questions! Thanks for reading!

*ASpottedHeart

December on the Ponderosa

This month started out unusually warm for December. We kept hearing colder weather was coming, but it was hard to believe when you didn’t really need anything but a light jacket to go outside. But then, let me tell you, when the cold hit, it hit! The last few days haven’t gotten above 16-18 degrees, finally the sun is starting to poke out today. If you follow One Cute Cowboy’s instagram, I’ m sure you’ve seen how thrilled he’s been about the colder temperatures.

This month has been all about wheat pasture cattle. Every. Single. Day. OCC loads up a trusty horse, a fueled 4 wheeler, charged fence batteries, his medicine bag, and hot coffee, 7 Days a week to go check the cattle on wheat pasture and corn stalks. He makes his rounds through 6 pastures at one location, then 2 other separate fields, then checks the bull calves that are also on wheat. While he’s at these pastures he also has to break the inch thick ice in the tanks, and check the hot wire fences to make sure they’re keeping their charge. Cowboy roping a steer

This guy wasn’t sick, just in the wrong pasture and had to be moved.

He checks for anything that might be sick, or not looking healthy. Cowboys wear many hats, and one of those hats is unfortunately, Doctor. One has to know what medicine is good for what ailment, they have to keep track of which ones they’ve already doctored, and what medicine they gave them. Some medicines are so strong they can only be doctored once with that particular kind and it’s imperative for the Cowboy to remember what calf the medicine was distributed to.

During wheat pasture season, calves can get bloated on the wheat really easily and really fast. There are several things the cowboys do to help fight bloat. They put out a block called a “bloat” block and they also add soap to their water and keep hay out. The blocks and soap help the stomach continue to bubble and break down the foam which helps the gas escape. The hay offers dry matter which allows the rumen to operate correctly.

Besides checking wheat pasture cattle, the cowboys have also been feeding cake and hay to the ranch cattle. They definitely keep a full schedule in the winter months!

We also got to get away for an overnight trip to see some of OCC’s family for Christmas, and also had a nice Christmas with my whole family once we got back. Christmas was here and gone in the blink of an eye, which always makes me a little sad. But it’s exciting to think this time next year we’ll have a little pup around to unwrap gifts and start some new family traditions.

The cake my niece made all by herself, “Frosty.”

I hope you all have had a wonderful December, and are ready to jump into the New Year with lots of hope, love, and excitement!

Happy New Year! 🍾

*ASpottedHeart

Branding Season

I’m a few weeks late on this and I apologize. Hope you enjoy!


Let me be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of branding season. When I was a kid, being the youngest, I guess you’d say I had….ahem…certain privileges. Ha! I didn’t have to go out in the early morning when the rest of the crew went out, I was able to go stay with my Grandma Smith, and help her get lunch ready to take to the crew at noon. 

I loved to watch her pack her pretty picnic basket with homemade sweet pickles, homemade ground beef sandwiches, chips, and always some kind of yummy dessert, homemade of course. We’d go out and they’d gather around sitting on buckets, barrels, and tailgates ready for lunch. That was always fun to me, sitting in the shade, eating lunch with everyone.

After everyone was done eating, it was time to continue branding. Grandma always wanted to stay and “watch them brand a few.” Much to my dismay, we’d watch them brand for a little while. 

 As I got older I was enlisted to help. I did things like drive the feed pick up to help gather, fill the shots with medicine, and every now and then try to give the shots. 

As most of you are aware, I’m an animal lover, and it’s more than just an “oh I love how cute and fun animals are,” I almost feel like it’s a sort of calling. My depth of compassion for four legged creatures is deep. So you can probably imagine that branding isn’t always the easiest road for me.  There’s a lot of calves bawling, sometimes blood, and a pretty terrible smell to top it off! But branding  involves a lot more than that. There’s of course branding and tagging the cattle but also making sure they have their vaccinations and it also gives the chance to look over each animal to make sure their over-all being is doing well. The vaccinations we give helps fight disease and bacteria in each calf. It helps boost their immune systems and helps them stay healthy. In all reality, it’s one of the best things we could do for our cattle; making sure they’re at their best and none of them need any special attention. 


These days I usually end up giving part of the shots and helping make sure the syringes stay full of medicine. On occasions I get to stay at the Ponderosa making lunch and taking it out just like Grandma used to. 


Something occurred to me this year at our branding– I end up physically touching every single one of our calves during this yearly occurrence, why not try to say a quick prayer of well-being over each calf as I quickly lay my hands upon them? These animals are a vital part of our daily lives, so why not?

As I’ve grown older I’ve realized branding isn’t just something we go through the motions of each year. There’s a reason why One Cute Cowboy gets so excited when branding season rolls around, it’s because it’s a time of gathering together and all pitching in to help. It’s a time for family and friends and working hard and laughing and making traditions while practicing the old ones. It’s living out our heritages. For centuries cowboys have gathered together to do this very same thing. So it is amazing to think we’re just doing what our great-great-great-great grandfathers and grandmothers did before us. It’s pretty cool to think about being a part of something big like that. 

Maybe I’ve found some silver lining in branding season after all. 
*ASpottedHeart

Calving Season

A mama cow and her new born calf standing in the sunset of the high plains grass.
It’s here. The time of year that One Cute Cowboy is getting up throughout the night, along with my dad, and brother-in-law, to check for calves. It’s not an easy season, can be heartbreaking, but also incredibly rewarding. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart. 

A Cowboy checking out a new born calf, watching it stand up.
There is checking, and re-checking, waiting, hurrying, and hopefully very few trips to the vet.

After they’re born there’s a lot of watching-watching to make sure the mama claims them, making sure they get up, making sure they get that first meal. There’s tagging and weighing, and making sure all is matched up.

A Cowboy tagging a calf, while the mama cow stands close by watching.

Mamas don’t like when the cowboys get too close to their babies.


 
Sunday we had 4 babies, which is a pretty big day for a pen of heifers. Two were born naturally and were on the ground when one of the cowboys went out to check. One was pulled by my dad and One Cute Cowboy early yesterday morning, and one we had to rush to the vet and finally after much trying, was born weighing a whopping 95lbs by C-Section. That was a first for me. Those of you who aren’t familiar with cows and heifers (heifers=first time mamas) a desired birth weight for a heifer having a calf is about 60lbs. So this calf is a whole 35lbs heavier than a normal heifer birth. Woah! We were thankful for our local vets Carrie Jo & Rusty.

(I have a picture of this, but maybe it’s too much for my readers.)

Today we’ve had 8 calves. The cowboys (my dad, brother-in-law, and One Cute Cowboy) have been busy busy. One was pulled in the wee hours of the morning by OCC and my brother-in-law. But don’t let them fool you, they love it!

Two cowboys drenching a new born calf.
Every now and then you have a baby whose mama won’t claim it, or a mama that doesn’t have enough milk, or maybe they lost their mama. That’s where a big part of my role comes into play (besides waking One Cute Cowboy up in the middle of the night to go check heifers) that’s when bottle-feeding is needed. It’s my speciality! There are few things I enjoy more on the ranch than bottle feeding baby calves. Though I hate the reason for needing to bottle feed, I enjoy being those babie’s mama for a short while. 

A bottle calf trying to nurse on the feeders jacket

Always trying to nurse on my jacket.

A close up of a baby bottle calf.
This is my current baby, Maybell. She’s as sweet as they come, and has become quite the little sassy pants. She loves to drink her bottle while you rub on her sides. Her little tail just swishes back and forth in happiness. She’s about 10 days old.

Black cat, looking into the cow owns

Pen boss and mid-wife, Mama


To say calving season is busy, would be an overwhelming understatement. But trust me, it’s the very thing these cowboys live for. Seeing their hard work pay off. Caring for these heifers and cows, striving to help them in every way possible. They always want the very best for each animal. They love them deeply. For this reason I’m proud to be a rancher, a rancher’s wife, and a rancher’s daughter. May the traditions live on. ❤

A Cowboy on his horse, riding through a pasture in the sunset

*ASpottedHeart