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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary Country Boy!

     Yesterday was our 31st wedding anniversary.  It has almost become a tradition that we end up having some kind of trouble with the cows on our anniversary. Many years ago when the kids were little there was a very heavy, wet Spring snow falling and Randy came in for help.  A cow had calved in the storm and was not taking care of her calf.  We went out and loaded the calf on the tailgate of Greenie (old pickup) and Randy instructed me to sit on the calf so it wouldn't fall out and he would slowly drive to the barn and hopefully the mama would follow her baby and we could lock them in the barn, till her maternal instincts improved.  Well, we made it almost to the barn and with all the snow the tailgate was slick, and I probably only weighed 100 lbs. back then, and Randy hit a bump and the calf and I both fell out!.  I yelled for him to stop and when he got out I asked him why he loved this way of life, and told him "Happy Anniversary!"  I'm a lot less fond of helping in bad weather.

 Why did we get married in March?  One might think it was so Randy wouldn't ever have to take me on a vacation for our anniversary, but as our friend, Clyde Chess once told me, "It was B.C. Before Cows".  Randy just worked for some farmers/neighbors when we first got married.  It was several years before we acquired cattle.

      Fast forward to Saturday afternoon and Randy suggested we go out for a nice dinner for our anniversary.  He checked the cows and heifers, and heifer #57 was by herself, acting suspicious.  Heifers sometimes need help with their first calf, so we decided to stay home.  For the next three days we checked on #57 often.  One time she would be switching her tail, acting bothered, the next time she would be calmly chewing her cud.  Randy and I both had a feeling, she was going to have trouble.  So last night on our anniversary we took turns checking her every hour or so.  She had not started the birthing process, but just acted funny.  We finally went to bed.

      At 2:00 AM I was so sound asleep that I didn't realize Randy had gotten dressed, went out and checked and came back and was gently nudging me and saying, "Do you want to help, or keep sleeping?"
 " What?  Huh?  The heifer?  Did she start?  Of Course I'll help!"
 All I can say is he asked so nicely, I wasn't fully awake, I must have suddenly had a rush of adrenalin.  I got dressed and threw on Randy's big hooded coat (no sense getting mine dirty) and filled the bucket with soapy water.  Got in the pen and he roped the heifer. Randy said something like, "I thought about letting you sleep, but I wanted to share the fun." I told him I would have been disappointed if he hadn't let me help.  I was still quite sleepy and she just didn't seem "angry" like some of the older cows.  The coat's hood was blocking my peripheral vision, but I sort of sensed in my sleepy stupor that she was getting close to me, just as Randy said, "You better get out of the way."  Which I quickly did. She wasn't mad, but she also didn't care that I was there and would have knocked me down trying to escape. (I'm sure she was thinking, I'm in pain here, why is this man bothering me?)

About this time the bull in the next pen is quite interested in what's going on and starts running, bucking and snorting.  I told the heifer it was all his fault and she should stay away from him.  Isn't that what every girl wants to hear when she is in labor?  Randy wrapped the end of the rope around two fence posts and as always I held the rope.  My job is to keep her from getting away (easy with the double wrap) and if she has such a fit that she pulls on the rope and it gets too tight and she "chokes down" I have to quickly unwrap the rope and give her some slack so she can breathe.  For this "city girl"  let me just say it's traumatic!  She never choked down, but this poor girl was in some pain.  Her eyes rolled back in her head and well,  it was a rough delivery.  She was small, the calf was big and his tongue was swollen from too much time in the process.  I said a quick prayer that the heifer would not be paralyzed or prolapse (pulling a calf at 2:00 AM is one thing, putting her womb back in, is quite another!) Maybe I'm silly to pray, but I believe God hears every prayer and cares about the things we care about.  Besides, I just like talking to Him.  Randy made sure the calf's nose was clear and moved him out of mama's way so she wouldn't step on him, if and when she got up. At this point she is just laying there with a shocked look as if to say, "What on earth just happened??"  The calf shook his head and took some choppy breaths.He took looked like, What?  Where am I?
     It was a pretty still morning (it had been pretty windy when we went to bed).  Cold but clear.  I looked up and saw the stars and thought about the manger where our Savior, Jesus was born.  Wow.
      I did my best to coil up the rope and gather up the other stuff. #57 got up and the maternal instinct kicked in and she began to clean up her baby.  I followed Randy to the barn and handed him his rope to which he let out a little chuckle.  He then proceeded to throw the rope out in a straight line and coil it, giving me instructions on how to properly coil it. "Start at the tail (oops I started at the loop), then overhand, overhand, etc."  I said, "I can't believe I'm getting a rope lesson at 2:30 AM.  I did do the overhand, overhand."  
"Did you start at the tail?"
"You're just like Bret."
OK.  Back to house, back to the warm bed for me. Randy took the flashlight and went to the big pen and checked on the remaining heifers to make sure there were none in labor.  Even at 2:00 AM he is so thorough, so disciplined.  He never takes shortcuts.  He loves his cows and he takes good care of them.   I guess technically it's the day after our anniversary, but I'm sure #57 started the birthing process before midnight, so we'll call this our anniversary calf.  All's well that ends well.

31 years this country boy and city girl have been working together and I have to say it is so good to have someone to share life with!

P.S.  Randy came in from morning chores and asked me to make a bottle of colostrum for the calf.  The mama didn't clean him up good and he never stood up.  He was cold, shivering, and weak. His head and tongue were swollen from too much time in the birth canal. It took some doing, but we finally got half a bottle down him.  Amazing what some warm milk will do.  He kept trying and falling, but he finally got up and the sun came out and when I went out later he was napping.  Of course like my cousin, Penny I had to take some pictures.


  1. Ahhh Vonnie I love it! I remember 31 years ago...what an adventure it has been :) I love the pics! Sounds like quite the romantic evening!! Moonlight and all :) lyp

  2. He/she is a cute little guy. Hope you get to go out soon.

  3. Seems like I have had this same dream/nightmare - experience! Our anniversary is coming up in June and it will be 32 years. I have had quite a few heifer delivery experiences that were none too easy! I also have prayed many prayers during those experiences! Funny how us ranch wives can relate to such things! Happy Belated Anniversary!