“How’s calving going this winter?”
Those unfamiliar with birthing calves out of stock cows likely don’t understand that question.
Yet the reply is important to cowmen whose paycheck depends on a calf being born and growing to be marketed.
Conversations in recent days have been better than sometimes with herdsmen claiming this year is “going pretty good.”
Generically that means there haven’t been many problematic calving issues with a high percentage of live births.
Conscientious cow-calf operators readily quote number of calves, specific issues which might have arisen, and efforts to keep babies healthy.
That’s quite contrasting to the calving question response from one young cowboy responsible for a big ranch cowherd four decades ago.
He said, “I’ll know after we burn pastures this spring, can see carcasses and how many calves tail mommas in.”
Obviously he was not a dedicated cowman. His only concern was doing his first duty making sure the cows had feed and maybe knowing the herd count.
Dedicated ranchers with cows know every one of them like their own child. They may all be black appearing identical to outsiders but each is a unique individual to the one caring for them.
Identity may be by tag number, or personal moniker deriving from distinct disposition, conformation or unique characteristic.
Whether Tag 282, or Tessy, or Bessie, even perhaps Ornery Rip, every cow is known and important to the herd. They all must be in the lineup at feeding time or daily herd count for careful inspection.
Knowledgeable cow managers can tell when birthing in close by. It’s a stockman’s knowledge often gained through experience and others have the inherent ability to better understand livestock.
When a cow isn’t accounted for attention becomes immediate to find her and offer assistance if needed. Good ole momma cows know where to go in the timber or draw, have a calf, and take care of it.
Yet even cows with perfect calving records will occasionally be struck by a natural quirk. It might be a backwards calf, a leg caught or simply unable to birth on her own. Just a little human assistance or lots of help at the right time is required to have a live baby.
Reminded of Psalm 18:29: “With your help, problems are conquered. A helping hand is needed from you.”