On The Ranch

Oh, Mother.

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I wrote this post years ago, and honestly, it’s so much funnier now that I’m a mom. Is it okay to call yourself funny in retrospect? I hope so, because I’m doing it. No shame in my game.

The heifers have started calving, and it makes me miss our days of being knee-deep in calves for months when we worked for registered ranches (commercial ranches typically aren’t as hands-on, for a variety of reasons), but then I remember how much work that was and how exhausted we were and how much of our diets consisted of snacks and sweet tea and I think I’ll stick with my fond reminiscences. As Bert says, it’s easier to get up in the night to feed a human baby than to go check calves because at least you get to stay inside and don’t have to get out of your pajamas.

Which is where I laugh at him, because he’d always get fully dressed to go check and I’d just throw my coveralls over my jammies and call it good. Including one time when I was wearing footy pajamas which almost resulted in an embarrassing bathroom situation but don’t worry, it got, ah, taken care of.

Being around so many bovine mothers has made me realize they’re similar to human mothers in that while each one is, of course, unique, every mother can be loosely grouped into a category based on her parenting style.

The Helicopter Mother is the sort that won’t leave. Ever. You’ve seen her–that mom at the soccer game/swim meet/dance class that the ref/coach/teacher has to keep chasing off the field/pool deck/floor. She wears fanny packs and has a tote bag full of band-aids, kleenex and medical supplies a triage nurse would envy. Also a change of clothes, in case things get wild. She does Junior’s homework, plans all his extra-curriculars, and stays home whenever she hires a babysitter to supervise the babysitter supervising her child. In bovine form, this mother will hardly get out of Junior’s face long enough to let him nurse, much less let him walk somewhere. She’s mastered the art of bellering hysterically and never taking her eyes off of you or her calf while walking backwards. It’s hard to tag her calf because she won’t leave enough space between Junior’s head and her own for you to get a tag in edgewise. She’s annoying, but you deal with her because she’s a good mother, mostly–besides her child never being able to socialize properly due to her overbearing hovering.

The “You’re On Your Own” Mother is the sort who–by laziness or by design–lets her child learn for itself and just watches when it does something stupid. Every now and then, she’ll say (or moo) some instructions or advice, like “A little to the left, Ashley,” or “Watch out for that hole, Rutherford,” or “Don’t fall of the edge of the bridge, Harriet, I won’t come in to get you,” but she usually just stays involved in whatever activity she was involved in when Junior went for his adventure, which is usually eating. This mom’s alright–she’ll usually intervene before little Cletus does something really dumb.
The Satellite Mother is a mother we all know. She’s seems rather uninvolved and distant, perhaps even neglectful at times. However, her children are impeccably groomed and always have the best lunches. She attends all of their recitals, concerts and games, but in a mysterious, back-of-the-room sort of way, and lets the other mothers be front and center. Until, of course, little Timothy is unfairly tackled or little Prunella is pushed during the ballet recital, and then her presence becomes immediately obvious and the offender wonders where in the world she was but vows never to mess with her kid again. In cow form, this mother will never be near her calf, as far as you can tell, but you know they must have some sort of interaction because the calf is fat and healthy. But, she somehow knows where it is at.all.times, and will come racing at a dead run if you get anywhere near the little pipsqueak, bellering and carrying on, making you jump back with your hands up (“I swear I was just checking on him!”) and get the heck out of there.

The Overbearing Mother is similar to a Helicopter Mother, but not quite as protective and well-meaning as, well, overbearing. A Helicopter type will usually let Junior walk in the direction he chooses (as long as he can navigate around her ever-present hovering) and lets him pick his own place to nap in the straw (as long as it IS on the straw–no freezing down for this calf!), this mother does not. She chooses when Junior walks, where he walks, how fast it takes him to get there, when he sleeps, where he sleeps, which side he stands on to nurse and what sort of bull he’ll be when he grows up–and will continually make her demands known by hollering at him until her complies. She’s not opposed to moderate head-nudging to get her point across. In human form, this is the sort of mother that people give the nickname “The General” or “The Tank” or “Sir.” She makes the decisions, and by God you’d better just do it or get out of her way.

We also have our share of the Abusive and Neglectful. In these cases, we act live Bovine Social Services and place the calf up for adoption. This is where grafting comes in. Unfortunately, in some (most on a commercial ranch where the calf crop is more important than genetic potential) cases, jail or rehab is not available for such gals, especially if they are repeat offenders. Their sentence is often Arby’s via the sale barn. It may seem cruel, but if a cow is a calf-killer, or fails to successfully raise a baby at all, she is not productive and becomes a money pit, when is not a viable option for any sort of business.

The Mother Hen momma is one of my favorites. You know this mother–she’s had multiple children of her own, and nothing fazes her. She’s generally a little older, and more experienced in the trials and tribulations of raising children, but loves each and every one of them all the same. She’s seen it all! The You’re-On-Your-Owns and Satellites and neglectful mothers often leave their calves under her careful supervision, while they take some “me” time and chew their cud gazing a mountain view, or have girlchat over a meal of particularly delicious hay with their girlfriends.

The “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing But We’re Going To Make This Work Darnit” mother is often a young or first-time mother who said pish-posh to all those parenting handbooks and advice from experienced mothers–and now regrets it. Not that she’ll ever tell! She’s generally bewildered by the whole idea of motherhood and the living being bursting forth from her loins. This sort of mother usually has the best intentions, but needs a little extra coaching to help her learn the ropes.

The “Oh Another One” Mother has had so many children that she can’t keep track of them, nor does she care. Like the Mother Hen, she’s experienced and has seen it all. She, however, is not as interested in the fuzzy little bundles of joy she always seems to be carting around. She loves them, sure, but is not as affectionate as she might be. She raises ’em, weans ’em and says hello to a couple of child-free months before it all starts again. She’s often like a Satellite who’s fallen out of orbit–she always knows where her calf is, and will never truly leave him, but Junior usually has the responsibility to go find her when he’s hungry–she won’t come a-wassailin’.

 

Family · Home · On The Ranch · pregnancy · Wacey

Lately

Last week I had my 36 week ultrasound, after which my doctor informed me that there’s very little chance I’ll make it to my due date, and even though I never though I would, it sort of set off a freak-out in my brain. Combine that with an unplanned day of working cows, and the blog took, like, tenth priority. Totally not fair, but all is sort of fair in love and impending childbirth, right?

So here’s the haps. We’re still calving! It’s still going well, we haven’t had any more twins, and there are about sixty cows left!new-calf

The weather’s been gorgeous, but we did get snow last week and have some more coming this week–it’s actually good since it’s been so dry. Our morning stroller trips to the calving barn are one of the best parts of the day!
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Aaaaand speaking of strollers…we found ours!! YAY! I’m SO excited. Like, unreasonably excited. We even came in under budget! #momlife
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And speaking of #momlife, our pregnant mare (on the left) is fat fat. I mean, all the horses are currently fat fat, but she’s taking pregnancy to a whole new level. Get it, girl.
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Last week, our favorite vet came down with some students in hopes that we’d have some things for them to look at as a practical lesson. Lo and behold, the day before they arrived, we had a calf break a femur! Not good, of course, but the good doctor and his students set the bone and put on a fancy splint in hopes that the calf (now named Forrest Gump, don’t judge) will make a recovery. It’s hard to fix broken limbs in calves, especially when they’re high up like this one, but we’re hopeful!
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Here’s Forrest with his fancy cast–it’s made of rebar and gauze and bandages and Frozen (yes, Frozen) duct tape, and it’s pretty amazing. Also he’s still a little sedated in this picture, hence the cloudy eyes. Bert brought his mom in so he gets plenty to eat and we’re hoping for 4-6 weeks with the cast on. So far, he seems to be doing okay!
broken-legThe vet and the students treated some sick calves, set another (less severe) broken leg, fixed a cow who wouldn’t clean (she calved but not all the afterbirth would come out), and pulled a calf. So, lots of “fun” vet stuff!

Our surprise cow working day on Friday was PAP testing heifers, which is one of my favorite things because I just love the vet that does it (the same vet that fixed up Forrest), and it’s so interesting! This vet PAP-ed our bulls in Montana so we’ve known him for years, and it’s so fun when he comes around. Plus, we do love our barn days! Bert’s in between AI groups on cows, so he took Wacey for the afternoon. It was so weird and yet exciting (and relaxing?) to be able to just work and not get snacks/milk/toys/etc.
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My outfit was on fleek, too. Belly shirts (crop tops?) are in, right? Also, apparently I have the lovely pregnancy skin pigmentation that I didn’t know about until…just now.
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Our local elk herd (on the hill in the middle of the picture) paid us a visit, too.
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There’s a rule that you can’t sit down while you’re working cows, but I violated it pretty flagrantly. Ah, well.
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THIS would be why. OH MY GOSH this is completely ridiculous. Like, what?!? I have SO MUCH ENERGY but I have to sit down because this is what happens if I don’t. By far my least favorite pregnancy symptom to date.

(I posted this picture on Insta and got some concerned texts from friends and family, thank you for worrying about me! My doctor’s seen the monster ankles, and since my blood pressure is low, and I don’t have any other high blood pressure symptoms, she’s not worried. And I have an appointment tomorrow. The good Lord just wants me to wear my new mocs a lot!)
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Also very much on the agenda: baby survival meal prep. Yesterday was breading chicken parm and chicken cutlets, making lots of sauces and marinades and packets of fajita seasoning, and thawing a billion pounds of beef and sausage. Today or tomorrow, some of that seasoning and all of that meat will be made into meatballs and fajitas, and sliced up for beef and snow peas. If Bub stays put (the theme of our lives right now), I’ll write a more detailed post later this week!

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Last week’s ultrasound was so hilarious! We didn’t get a ton of good pictures because he accidentally hit himself in the face and made himself mad, but it was so neat to watch him move and feel it at the same time. Also, totally got the bison swaddle set and I’m in love. I do like the Aden + Anais swaddles, but man alive these ones are delicious. They’re Little Unicorn brand, and are bigger and softer and thicker than the A+As, and the three-packs are a great deal! Girl mamas: their floral swaddles are so beautiful. I
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So there it is. Bert’s calving, I’m trying to get everything done for the baby’s arrival and finish up projects at work, Wacey’s being adorable and also two, and we’re all waiting on Baby Brother. It’s weird to be in the final “any time now” weeks because I want another two months to do everything, and I also want the baby to be born tomorrow. Give me a few more days to finish meal prepping and clean our bathrooms, though, and I’ll be firmly entrenched in the latter camp. Bert thinks March 9 will be the day, I think it will be the following weekend because it’s a full moon, and I had Wace on a full moon weekend. Wace still thinks a “brother” is a belly button, so I don’t think he gets to put in his vote quite yet!

Happy Monday, happy almost March (can you believe it’s almost March?!?) and thanks for bearing with me. I want so badly to be a regular blogger, and I’m truly working on it, but it’s hard to suppress my slightly obsessive have-to-get-everything-done-before-the-baby-comes tendencies that have been surfacing for the past six weeks!

On The Ranch · Wacey

Baby Calves

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Yesterday after we got back from the office, Wace and I took the stroller down to the barn to soak up all 65 degrees of the gorgeous afternoon and, of course, to go see daddy. We came home and stopped at the pivot behind the house to check out our baby calves! These mamas are a little protective, so I brought my bigger lens (and Gaucho) because they don’t always especially appreciate company, especially company in the form of an oddly-shaped lady and a tiny human.

There are about a hundred pairs (mamas + babies) out here right now, and other than a couple sick ones that Bert has been tending to, they’re all doing really well! I’m glad it’s been warm because although calves do just fine in the cold and snow, it’s nice to see them play in the sun.

One thing that cracks me up about baby calves is how silly they are. They run and play and jump and chase each other, and it’s hilarious, especially when they’re just learning how. During the day, everyone tends to spread out and play and lay in the sun, but as the evening comes on, the calves start to retreat to the tall grass. I also love the “it takes a village” mindset of the cows–often, you’ll see one or a few cows hanging out with a bunch of babies while their mamas graze or go to water. I hope they switch it up, or that the nursery cows like to mind all those crazy little bovines. Every now and then, you’ll see a calf that’s just had enough and needs to find mama now, and he’ll go trotting out into the pivot, bawling like he’s on fire, until his mama takes pity on him and comes to the rescue. The calves still get all their nutrition from milk, but some are starting to pretend graze, and it’s so funny to see them acting like big cows. They’re just like human toddlers– they can’t wait to be big. They’re also very dramatic, very hungry, and very much in love with their mamas, and like to throw fits.

We also spotted the geldings from way out–Bert hasn’t been riding as much, and the horses have been getting a break since their only job right now is to eat, which means we hardly see them. They’re going to be fat fat fat when it’s time to start spring work in the next month or two!

While I was taking pictures (I was using my 120mm lens which I kind of really suck with, so I was concentrating pretty hard), I heard all this giggling, and I look over and see this:

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I mean seriously. And Gaucho didn’t even care! What a silly situation; I about died laughing. If this is how the rest of my life is going to be with being a boy mama, oh my gosh bring it on because it’s so much fun! Although I so hope the boys refrain from sitting on Gaucho as they get older.

Wace has been telling me for the last ten minutes that a) the trash is gross and b) “Boxboxboxboxboxboxboxbox hathathathathathat” which means that there are coffee grounds in the trash can and it’s time for us to go get a hat on (he has to wear a hat outside) and go play in his sandbox.

May your Thursday be lovely, may your coffee be strong, may your Valentine’s treats still be in existence, and may you get a chance to be one of the free-grazing mamas at some point today!