Wineglass Ranch

Calving Heifers on the WineGlass Ranch

Ranching always provides a good source for fresh stories.

I walked into the corral one morning to check on the first-calf heifers (cows that have never had a calf before).  I watched a newborn calf trying to get his first drink.  The calf was having a tough go because there were two heifers claiming him and he didn’t know which way to turn to get his first meal.

The calf’s mother, the red cow, was trying to sniff and lick the calf.  The calf was trying to suck the grey cow (not his mother).  The grey cow kept putting herself between the calf and his actual mother.  The result was the three of them milling in a circle with nobody being in the right spot.  I gave them a few minutes to sort things out but it became clear that some intervention was needed.  I wandered over to chase the grey heifer away from the pair.  The objective was to move the grey heifer away from the calf and his mother, giving them time to pair-up.  It turns out the grey heifer is one of those cows that will be called special names during future calving seasons.  She was hell bent on taking the newborn calf for herself and she made it clear that I wasn’t going to stop her.

Plan B -> move the calf and his mother into another pen so they could pair-up, away from the other cows.  Moving the calf would require tying the calf into the calf sleigh, dragging the sleigh all the way across the large corral, then go back and try to sort his mother out from the other cows and get her into the corral which may or may not be a lot of work.
I stepped away from the group to ponder on the logistics of Plan B…and the calf walked up to me.  He was obviously very hungry and very confused.  I stepped away again…and the calf followed me again.  Light bulb.  I headed out and the calf followed me like a well trained dog.  The four of us walked quietly all the way across the corrals, me in the lead followed closely by the calf, followed by his mother, followed by the grey heifer.  I walked up and opened the gate into the next pen.  The calf walked past me into the pen, his mother walked past me into the pen, I closed the gate and went about my day!  It was the most amazing thing!  No fuss, no muss.

The grey heifer wasn’t too happy but she eventually went off and had her own calf the next day.

 

Rainy Spring Eliminates Fears From Overly Dry Winter…And Adds Some Spice to Life on The WineGlass Ranch

The rainy spring has been both a blessing and a curse.  In early May we were very worried about the lack of moisture.  We were getting close to drought conditions so the rain has been wonderful.  We can’t complain. (we better not, it might stop raining and not start again!)  The grass is growing fast and it’s wonderful.

The downside is that the cows are stuck on the wrong side of the creek.  We managed to cross the main herd in mid-June with some minor challenges but the creek bisects the field they are in now and most of them have crossed back.  With all the rain the creek is very high again and we can’t get the cows back across to move them to fresh grass.

The first move across the creek in mid-June went well.  Fortunately we had a good crew for the crossing.  Dad, Lori-Anne, Alex, Doc and Ed all brought their A game.  The only hitch was a calf that quit the herd before we finished gathering.  After we had put the cows across the creek, Ed and I watched them while Dad and everyone else rode back and picked-up the calf in the trailer.  When they arrived they backed the trailer into the creek and the calf swam out.  Ed and I were there in the creek with the horses to chase the calf across.  The calf was already half-way across in the trailer but he would not swim the rest of the way, even though the cows were right there on the other side.  Instead the calf swam around my horse and headed downstream.  I roped him in the deep rapids and I tried to steer him back towards the far shore but he wouldn’t go.  By now we (me and my horse) were in the rapids and the water was running over my knees.  We were a couple seconds from swimming and the water was FAST with high banks coming up.  I had to get us and the calf out of there before something serious happened so I dallied-up and headed for the far shore.  The calf did a wonderful impression of a submarine for a few seconds.  When we reached the other side we removed the rope and he happily took-off, looking for his Mom.  We headed back across the creek looking for a fire and a whiskey which we found in Dad’s tackroom.  Add another story to the list.

Calving Season Is Almost Here!

WineGlass Ranch Calves near Cochane AlbertaCalving season is less than 3 weeks away and we’re busy getting the shelters and the calving barns ready.  The weather has been great.  We would be very fortunate if the warmer temperatures continued through March and April (although so some snow is needed to get some spring moisture).  The 2011 calving season was tough, lots of cold and snow.  Here’s hoping the 2012 calving season is easier.

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