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8/3/2004

Summer Calf

Ya never know what’s gonna happen around Gray’s Ranch and last evening was jest another bit of evidence ta prove it. I pulled into the yard with big ideas of getting some work done in the field. I’ve finally learned after all these years not to get too “stuck” on my big ideas. It’s jest somethin’ about the way I live my life… plans never seem ta work out.  
So, I notice a young cow standing in a nice grassy spot lookin’ kinda curious. On closer inspection I found she was preparing to have a calf. She was one of a small cut of cows that either lost a calf during the calving season (which was several months ago) or a couple of the cows that were bred late and hadn’t calved yet. I cut them from the rest of the herd and figured I’d sell ‘em off as I needed a little spendin’ money during the summer.  
Anyways, my youngest son, Guy pulled in the yard about the same time and we studied the situation a tad. Normally, I’d go on about my business and the cow would take care of things without any help from me. But, she was lookin’ a little strange and she kept bawlin’ every now and then which had me spooked jest a little. In the early stages of calving a small amount of the placenta filled with fluid protrudes from the cow. To a Cowboy that’s the water bag. No need ta get too excited, yet. So, we proceeded to go about our business.  
Probably twenty minutes later I notice that her water has broken. Now, she’s licking at the fluid on the ground. That’s a good thing it’s natures way of helping the mother to identify with that calf when he finally finds his way to the outside world. But, still, she was bawlin’ and makin’ me awful nervous. Guess having her calve out of season just made everything seem a little unfamiliar.  
So, I can’t stand it any longer. Usually ya begin to see signs of the calf’s feet, but I was seeing nothing. So we got the rope. Figured I’d “check” her and then I’d know for sure if there were any problems to deal with. Those problems could be any number of presentations. If everything is normal the calf will deliver with the two front feet coming first and the head just behind and above them. He can be upside down with his head not entering the birth canal properly, or he can present his feet properly and have his head turned back. He might have only one foot forward and pointing back. Then, again he can be backwards. He might be backwards and not have any feet in the birth canal. Ya never know. 
After a few nervous throws of the rope (A few choice words for the rope) I catch her around the neck and begin to wrap my end of the rope around a pole so that I can hold her in place. At least that was the plan. She began to run just as I started to wrap! Ya usually need a couple of turns to gain leverage and I had only had time for one turn. The rope began to slip through my hands like butter only this butter was on fire! I let go just as the end hurtled by and before I could step back it let fly around that post at the speed of lightning! With a POP! It hit my arm sounding like the crack of a whip. It stung but went numb almost immediately, so I kept my attention on the cow. She stopped running as soon as the rope when limp and even walked back toward her preferred calving spot.  
I picked up the rope and this time managed to get it wrapped around the pole several times. Now, with her under control, I took off my shirt to inspect my arm. Wow! What a sight! I now had a long scar across my arm that showed every strand of the rope! Blood was slightly oozing and within SECONDS a number of flys found their greedy little ways to my arm. Kinda looked like those barb wire tattoos folks get ta look cool. 
No time to dawdle. I put my hand inside the cow’s vulva and found that the calf’s legs were right there just about to come out. I reached a little farther in and felt his head just where it was supposed to be. So, we turned momma loose and allowed her to go about things the way nature intended. At least I didn’t have to worry about dealing with a birthing problem just at dusk.  
Within an hour a baby bull calf was up and suckling. Jest goes ta show ya, sometimes it’s awful easy to complicate things way beyond where they should be. But, hey! Now, I got my own “Rope” tattoo. Might jest start a new fad our here “Beyond the Sidewalks”. 
So Long,  
The Cowboy 

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