A Cowboy’s Faith: Dedication receives right reward

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“There were five drooling coyotes on the pond dam this morning.”

That was the son-herdsman’s report in the back door after another check on the first calf heifers in the corral.

In the frigid cold, the varmints were anxious for a warm tasty breakfast of afterbirth should a baby arrive. Obviously, they knew the flavor and somehow instinctively readily came into the barnyard in anticipation of free easy taking.

Should a calf arrive when nobody was overlooking the herd, the wild ones would all pounce for food without manners.

If new momma is attentive to her newfound duties, generally the baby wouldn’t be in initial harm. That can change if mother moves away from a cold shivering one or there is apparent newborn weakness.

Attentiveness to assist first calvers is a major ordeal, let alone worrying about hungry canines. It’s an every three hour task day and night confirming if help is required. Having gone through that dreadful ranch task, fortunately the younger stockman and his mom will still do the work.

Typically, especially in the subzero chill index, if there are telltale signs of an arrival expectant momma is moved inside. That far from eliminates problems but reduces elements harshness.

Likewise, those mommas doing it on their own in the snow are usually brought into the barn for calf warming. There haven’t been calves in the kitchen with towels, heat lamps and hair dryers yet this season, but that’ll come.

As have commented before, nearly uncountable problems can occur at calving time. After helping get a big baby out of a struggling young maiden before dawn, the most knowledgeable herdsman rightly queried. “How do those other cowmen, especially the older ones, ever get that done? It was about all I could do to pull that calf,” the big strong son evaluated.

That’s a legitimate question with a number of different answers. Some still leave it up to nature, remembering one nonchalant, unconcerned cowman’s comment: “We’ll know how many calves we have when we burn in the spring.”

Dedicated herdsmen diligently keep 24-hour watch, ready to lend a helping hand. Others sleep restful assisting only in daylight.

Payment for dedication still comes market day.

Reminded of Job 34:11: “God pays man according to his work. He makes compensation for every man according to his way.”


030615-franksmug2Frank J. Buchman is a lifelong rancher from Alta Vista, a lifetime newspaper writer, syndicated national ag writer and a radio marketing consultant. He writes a weekly column to share A Cowboy’s Faith.


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