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Calving stories

Things that come up in the daily operation of a ranch.
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leanin' H
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Calving stories

Postby leanin' H » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:01 pm

I have enjoyed reading Soapweed's stories and thought it may be fun to share some of our own. So put on you thinking caps and lets hear some of your calving stories. It will give us all something to do while waiting for a heifer to calve. :D

I worked for Utah State University in the 1980's on an experiment station ranch here on the desert. The ranch manager was a wonderful man named Cal Olson and I was fortunate to call him a friend for many decades, til his passing 2 years ago. In 1985 he had a bad heart attack and spent a month in the hospital following a bunch of bypasses to save his life. I was a junior in high school and I spent the entire calving season staying on the USU ranch on night calving duty. His family was all grown and scattered and his wife spent a lot of time in Salt Lake City, spending time with Cal. I was alone a lot but my folks were just a phone call and a few miles away if I got in a bind. I remember how proud of myself I was, after pulling 3 calves alone, and saving all 3. Anyway, one weekend, one of Calvin's grandsons came out to help. He was raised away from the ranch in town but volunteered to come lend a hand, as the other ranch employee was going home to Logan, Utah for a few days, and I was needing some help feeding and chopping ice and calving the University herd of 200 head. (+ Cal's bunch of cattle. Both herds were on Cal's home ranch and USU leased his place and his expertise) Jason and I had a grand time, as kids will do. We played a game of Risk (Board game where ya are at war with each other) for at least a week, every time we had a minute not doing ranch chores. Well, we had a lot of heavy cows and a winter where the snow had really piled up, so we kept the close cows, in a wire lot where we could run them under one of the many sheds built there for that purpose. One snowy morning, I went down to the calving area to check on heavy cows and turn loose any with calves big enough to travel with their cows out to the feedrow. We had put a cow in a little 12 by 12 shed, made out of railroad ties, the night before. It was fully enclosed and had a big door that was heavy and hard to swing open. It also had a little 2 foot square window that made it easy to peek in on a calving cow, or fork her some hay. It didn't have glass and just had a wooden shutter you could open. It also had a railroad tie as an upright in the center, that bore the weight of the roof. The cow was down pushing and only one front foot was showing. I jogged up to the house and gathered up Jason, and we went down to assist. Cal had a few old rope halters and i took a lariat and flipped a loop over the cow's head. Then a I swiftly put that old halter on her and snubbed her to the center tie. Then Jason and I worked til we got the other foot out and the cow pushed about twice and the calf was born. I sent Jason for an old piece of burlap to rub the calf off a little, while I gathered up my rope and turned the cow loose. It was a fine plan! :lol: I do not know the line of cattle that sweet ol' sister was from, but she musta had a trace of EXT blood somewhere. She had been a model patient during the assistance we had given her, and was standing there looking at her calf try to get up, and talking to it like a good momma. I reached over and slipped off the halter just as Jason appeared at the window, back with the burlap I had sent him for. It was like pulling the pin on a grenade! That old gentle red Saler cow looked at me like I owed her a lot of money and here she came. Thank the Lord for that center upright railroad tie. I started making laps around that square shed trying to keep her on the other side of the tie. She did her best impression of a rodeo bull trying to kill a clown and stayed on my heels. That big old heavy door was out of the question since we had just slid in and out through the little window and not bothered to open it. The problem was every time I had enough distance from the cow to try to dive out the window, Jason would slam the damn thing shut! :lol: From his view, if I made it out, so would the cow. I remember yelling to open the blanket blank window and seeing his eyes about the size of silver dollars as I burned around and around and around! Thankfully, the calf was in a corner of the little shed and neither the cow or myself put even one toe on the little heifer calf. I was starting to loose a little steam and so was the cow. Jason finally decided that while a 145 pound high school kid would fit through the window, maybe a 1500 pound ticked off cow wouldn't, and he left the window open. I dove through like an arrow to a bullseye and landed gracefully (It's my story) in the snow near Jason's feet. The cow went straight to her calf and went to cleaning her off like nothing had happened. I got to my feet and brushed the snow and cow slobber off and looked at Jason. His first words were, "I am sure glad that cow didn't get out"! No harm was done to man nor beast. We still laugh about it on the rare occasion we see one another. I miss Calvin and his wonderful ranch. I visit his window Ruth as often as I can, and cherish the memories made as I grew up. What a grand life, is the life, of a ranch raised kid!
A poor ride beats a great walk any day!
<Parry Taylor>

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Big Muddy rancher » Fri Feb 23, 2018 6:27 pm

Hey don't blame a Salers temperament on the Angus breed :shock: :shock: :cowboy:

A old fellow I know as telling about going to help the neighbor gather his Saler cows.
They jogged to the far end on the pasture and rode like hell behind the cows trying to keep up. They got the cows in the corral and they went to the far side and just "Sailed" over the fence. :D :D
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leanin' H
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Re: Calving stories

Postby leanin' H » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:48 am

Shoot, I thought the EXT cattle were descendants of Saler cows? :D USU ran about every breed they could during the stretch I worked for them. Some of those Chianina cows could look down at you! And that was when you were astride a tall horse! :shock: And they were friendly critters for about 2 weeks after calving. :wink:
A poor ride beats a great walk any day!

<Parry Taylor>

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Re: Calving stories

Postby rancherfred » Sat Feb 24, 2018 9:07 am

We used Salers when I was a kid. They made great mothers in a 3/4 RA 1/4 Saler cross. I remember on more than one occasion resorting to locking them in a stock trailer to hold them until they calmed down because there was no fence high enough or stout enough that they could not go through or over.

I miss the productivity of those cows, but I don't miss the disposition.

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Soapweed » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:17 pm

Great story, leanin' H. Back 30 years ago, a neighbor was breeding his straight Hereford cows to Saler bulls. These F1 Hereford-Saler cross females were becoming a significant part of the momma cows, and boy were they wild. I wasn't at this particular branding, but heard about it later. The old barbed wire/woven wire "permanent" branding corral had been build for gentle Herefords. On branding day, while trying to sort the cows away from the calves, more cows were going over the fence than out the gate. The "management" was becoming increasingly agitated, and some of the attempted humorous remarks were not going over too well. One observer called the whole wire corral set-up a "Saler let-down." His next comment was, "Friends don't let friends buy Salers." I regret not being there to get in on the excitement.

Another neighbor bred all of his heifers to Saler bulls. Those first-calf heifers' calves were done in the first bunch at his branding the following spring. I was a designated roper for these speedy little critters. It was an invigorating experience, as having the whole branding pen full of half Saler calves was very much like having a branding pen full of baby deer. It was very challenging roping those little buggers, because they could kick and jump higher than any calves I've ever tried to rope, before or since. We did get the task completed, but felt like we'd definitely earned our dinner that day.

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Big Muddy rancher » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:11 pm

The best thing about most of the "Exotics" was the stories they generated.
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Re: Calving stories

Postby Faster horses » Sun Feb 25, 2018 2:26 pm

Our first experience with Salers was at Dillon, Mt. the day after a Saler Production sale.
The crew was busy putting up all new gates because of the ones the Salers busted the day before.
They maintained Salers were "very social" and didn't like being alone. :lol: :lol: :lol:
There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn't true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Haytrucker » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:58 pm

This isn't a calving story, but a Saler story. I once had a "lonely" Saler bull come out of the trees and follow me horseback 3/4 of a mile into a set of shipping corrals. I was sure glad the gate chain and post between us held when he hit it. He went down hard enough I got around and chained the gate behind him. Custom welded gates and heavy. Took me a half hour to catch enough breath to load the horse. His legs were still shaky. The bull was still there 2 days later when I went back for him and loaded reasonable. There was a mill and 2 tanks in those pens, I figured for just such occasions. He was the next to last Saler to gather out of the bull pasture that winter. As far as I know the last one is still there, at least his bones.

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leanin' H
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Re: Calving stories

Postby leanin' H » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:19 pm

It's funny how we all have fond, or maybe not so fond, memories of Salers. The weird thing is, I had and Aunt and Uncle who ran Saler cattle for years, and they were as calm and easy to be around as any cattle I have seen. The only reason they started phasing out Salers and going to the dark side, was watching their calves bring 15-20 cents less per pound compared to black steers. Those Saler cows milked good, did well in the high desert every year and bred back fine. I spent a lot of time behind them on a horse and can't remember one crazy cow. I did see a Limosine bull clear a 6 rail powder river gate with plenty of daylight between him and the gate. And I had some Sim/Chianina cross cows "Tree" me on the back of a flatbed truck for 2 hours when I had attempted to tag a calf. One ticked off momma and 3 of her friends kept me from getting back into the cab like sharks circling a shark tank. And I got "airlifted" out of a maternity pen by an old, smooth mouthed Hereford cow we called Kamikaze while calving cows for a doctor who didn't live out here. She would go bat-crap crazy for 10 days after calving and even attack the feed truck. The other 355 days a year she was as mellow and gentle as a pet.
A poor ride beats a great walk any day!

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Traveler » Sat Mar 24, 2018 7:22 pm

Had a black baldy heifer prolapse, today. After a bit she got up, and then decided that thing hanging out of her was scary. She took off running and bucking, and in short order it tore off and hit the ground. Shortly thereafter she permanently hit the ground, also. It's happened before. Got another damn bottle calf.

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Soapweed » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:54 pm

Traveler wrote:Had a black baldy heifer prolapse, today. After a bit she got up, and then decided that thing hanging out of her was scary. She took off running and bucking, and in short order it tore off and hit the ground. Shortly thereafter she permanently hit the ground, also. It's happened before. Got another damn bottle calf.


Look at the bright side. At least you didn't go to all the trouble of pushing it back in, sewing her up, and then watching her die. She may have saved you a lot of trouble. :)

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Re: Calving stories

Postby Big Muddy rancher » Sun Mar 25, 2018 9:14 am

Ain't that the truth!
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