For the most part throughout the course of ranch work, the happenings are rather smooth and uneventful. However, there are some occasions that start to get a little “western” as we call it.
There was a heifer’s calf, #37, that had a lump on the side of its jaw. Sometimes these lumps can be hardened into the bone and there is little that can be done about that. Other times the lump is a puss filled abscess formed from an infection (in our case, usually a cactus that got stuck in the calf). At any rate, it needed inspected, drained, then the calf needed a shot of antibiotics to get well.
The original plan was to rope the calf on foot while caking cows and take care of it out in the pasture. The herd was about two miles from the corrals and things get more tame with food involved.
A little hard to see the lump but it’s there…
We parked the cake truck as all the cows and calves gathered round. #37 finally showed himself and my husband creeped closer to him, rope in hand. He made a loop and started to swing. He cast the rope towards the calf and the loop fell perfectly over its head. A perfect catch.
Now it is very important to catch on the first try. A calf or cow that has had one failed attempt on it will be on guard for the second and much more difficult to catch. I was so excited to see the rope fall over its head the first time I smiled….then frowned as I watched the calf take a leap and jump right through the loop as my husband was pulling out the slack.
This is where you can say things start to get “western”.
We don’t give up easy. A few more tries yielded nothing but a stirred up herd. We returned to the pickup and went to retrieve a horse.
Two hours later I find myself perched upon my trusty steed watching my own personal rodeo. Sneaking up on the calf wasn’t working so my husband took chase. The little booger could really run. Cows and calves scattered as #37 zig zagged at full speed around the herd. My husband’s horse, JB, was tracking it flawlessly as my husband spun his loop at high speed.
I never have my camera for these things and always wish I did, but it did take a picture on the scene/pasture where the rodeo played out.
The problem was the calf was too fast and was turning too sharp. My husband didn’t want to run the horse that fast in the pasture and feared when the calf made a sharp cut the horse would too and dump him on the ground. The calf darted into the middle of herd and made a duck through some cows. It came out the other side of the cows right in the track of JB and dust went flying as the calf rolled under the horse.
That was a hiccup. A wreck would had been if the horse had spooked from having a calf under it, went bucking, launched my husband, and took off at a trot to the hills. Thank goodness JB is a good horse.
They recollected. The calf went into fenced in area around the windmill and stock tank. Since we were in somewhat of an enclosure, we thought he may be easier to catch. I parked my horse in the gate and my husband tried to get close to the calf.
The calf wasn’t having it. One sight of the swinging rope and it took off again. It was running full speed straight for the fence and I cringed as I could tell it had no intentions of slowing down. It hit the fence and bounced back. Seeing that it was in the corner, my husband jumped off his horse and grabbed a leg of the calf. It gave a good kick free and squirmed through the wires of the fence.
It was at this point we decided that were we doing more harm than good. I kept an eye on the calf while my husband went to get the cow. What a terrible cow she was, while her calf was being stalked down, she was off eating hay, paying zero attention.
We started to move them the couple miles to the corrals. For the most part that went well. The calf calmed down when it was following the cow.
See the trees, that’s where we have to go…..
We put them in to corral and sorted off the cow. It didn’t help that the calf was one of the biggest ones out there. I gave my husband a deer-in-the-headlights look as he was yelling for me to do “something” while he was holding a wildly kicking calf’s leg in one hand with an opened pocket knife in the other…. He wanted me in the middle of this? I figured we’d make a plan and tie it or something. He didn’t want to talk about a “plan” and threw himself on the calf and they sunk to the ground in a kicking cloud of dust. Not exactly low stress stock handling but I don’t think there is a low stress way to drain a puss pocket on a calf’s cheek.
I was getting the syringe loaded with combi-pen while my husband was draining the puss out of the lump on the calf’s cheek. I turned to hand him the syringe and he looked up at me and screamed, “I’ve got it on me!!!!”
EWWW. There it was, calf puss, right above his lip. SO GROSS! “It’s on your lip! It’s on your lip!” I screamed back. The rest of it was on the ground, it was about the consistency of cottage cheese. Ugh. So glad I wasn’t him at that moment. He gave the calf a shot and rolled off it. Spitting repeatedly, he ran to the hydrant and commenced rinsing his face and mouth for the next five minutes. I know how he feels, I did the same thing when I had a mixture of afterbirth and manure splashed into my mouth and eyes.
When he came back he apologized for yelling at me and asked for a kiss…..ummm….no.
The calf is all healed up and better. We ride though our cows and calves frequently to catch things like this and treat them. Hopefully the ones in the future will go a little less “western”