Double trouble

by Katie on February 1, 2012

Two weekends past, one of our older mama cows had a set of twins.

The day they were born, I was feeding by myself that afternoon, for the first time in probably a week, since I hadn’t been working over that direction. When I began getting a hay bale down to feed the few cows in that pasture, I looked up and counted the calves.

Let me back up right here and say that I to this day have no idea “which cow” most of our black cows are. If they’re big, fat, black and don’t have an ear tag? Forget it. Anything with some color to it, even the slightest bit, I’ve got, but those solid black ones just all look the same to me. Brandon doesn’t understand this. I try to explain that I grew up with gray cattle with a giant number branded into their hip, so I never had to become the cattle whisperer to identify any of them.

So, anyway, we have five or six cows I couldn’t identify for the life of me, much less know/remember which ones are supposed to have calves with them right now, even though I’m the person who records all the new calves in our record books.

Back to the calf counting…the number seemed larger than it should have from what I remembered, and one of the cows was off from the others with what looked like a pretty fresh one, with a small black thing curled up nearby.

So I did what I do when I have a question like this:  I called Brandon.

“Hey, how many calves are supposed to be at your grandma’s?”

“Three,” he said, “Why? Is one missing?”

“Oh no, nothing is missing for sure. There are five. Pretty sure one of the black ones had twins today. But I think one may be dead.”

The “dead” looking one was up against a fence, so I walked around to inspect it. And found it very much alive. But it had been pushed aside a little, which is fairly common for twins. I relayed all of the information on the current status of our new additions to my waiting husband.

“Can you tell what they are?” he asked.

“Well, the one laying over here that she’s not really taking care of is a bull for sure. I can’t get close enough on the other one to tell ’cause it’s right underneath her, but, wait, I just got a decent view from over here, and, I think we may have another bull,” I reported.

Brandon inspected the situation later on his way home, and found the cow was still very much favoring the one calf, so we decided to pick them up the next day and move them over to a pen where we could watch them better and they would be in close quarters.

So we arrived the next morning, ready to load them in the trailer. With day-old calves, the easiest way to do this is to scoop them up, run into the trailer with them, and let the mama cow follow you right in, hopefully getting out of the way before she runs you over. That was what we planned to do. We were each going to grab a calf and run to the trailer with it.

When we got out in the big pen to get them, one of them stayed laying down near where we were standing, and the other took off a bit, mama cow in tow. When they stopped moving, Brandon said, “Bull, huh? Never seen one of those pee from the back end.”

Oops. I had told him I wasn’t sure about that one and just took a good guess from a view ten feet away. It did not stop the teasing.

Anyway, one of the twins was slightly bigger than the other, but they were both pretty stinking small. Meaning I was more than capable of hauling either one to the trailer in my arms. So why Brandon insisted upon grabbing the one at our feet “because it was bigger” and sending me after the one hiding beneath the cow’s belly, I do not know.

But that’s what he did.

So I’m having a standoff a big, black mama cow while Brandon is running to the trailer with her other baby, yelling over his shoulder, “Just grab it!”

“Okay, but are you sure this cow isn’t going to come after me?” I asked, apprehensively.

“Yeah, she’s fine!” he hollered back.

But as our standoff progressed, and she turned to face me, nudging her calf right beneath her brisket, I wasn’t quite convinced.

“Uh…how sure are you?” I asked again.

When Brandon actually looked back to survey the situation that time, he changed his tune.

“Not that sure,” he said, “I’ll get it.”

And he did. I was thankful. I wasn’t really planning on getting mauled by a mama cow that day.

And the story has a very happy ending. After a couple hours in the pen, both calves nursed and the cow seemed to dish out equal treatment. Which meant we didn’t have to milk the cow and take on a bottle calf that day, which is always a good thing.



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