This afternoon as I drove down to Melrose to have some lunch I noticed lots of new born calves in the pastures. This reminded me that now is the height of calving season in the Big Hole Valley. To the ranchers this is their bread and butter and they take it very seriously. They hire on extra hands to keep an eye on the cows 24-7.
This brought up old memories from when I was a youngster growing up on a ranch. You learn at a very young age about the birds and bees. It was no big deal reaching into a cow up to your arm pit to find the feet of the calf to put a line on to them and help pull it out when she was in trouble. I say it was no big deal until she got on the fight and that happened quite often. You would think the cow was about half dead laying there trying to push out this calf which was stuck when all of a sudden she would let out a bellow, get to her feet and charge you as if you were the one causing all that pain. I remember one time my cousin from town was at the place. Every body else was gone and I was left to keep an eye on the expectant mother cows. We went to the corral to check on the heavy’s (ones close to calving) when I noticed one laying in the far corner with only one hoof of the calf protruding out. This happens a lot as one leg gets curled back and the only thing to do is to reach in and get the other leg. I was in the process of doing this when this cow suddenly went ballistic. She jumped up on the fight and who was standing there in front of her was my cousin from town. He was standing in front of her as he didn’t want any thing to do with what I was doing on the other end. He was a bit over weight and couldn’t run very fast. He was heading for the pickup but just short of it she caught up to him and launched him right over the hood of it. While he was keeping her attention in that sort of way I got a rope over her head and put a dally around the bumper of the truck. It didn’t take much to get her back on the ground as by this time she was pretty weak from being in labor and trying to kill my cousin. I succeeded in pulling the calf and mother and baby turned out to be fine. My cousin had a few bruises and bumps and was covered in cow shit. I was laughing hysterically but he didn’t think it was so funny and I never saw him again on the place during calving season.