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.
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!
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!
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!