A Cowboy’s Faith:Ranching not always romantic – Osage County Online | Osage County News

A Cowboy’s Faith:Ranching not always romantic

A Cowboy's Faith: Click to read more from Frank J. Buchman.“He had to pull it.”

The opened backdoor announcement has been repeated more than once in the past week. Most folks require a thorough deciphering to understand what the five-word comment means.

It’s already spring calving time for many cow-calf operators in the Flint Hills. Extra effort is required to make sure every cow, or first calf heifer in this situation, gives birth to a live calf.

Mother Nature works in her own often peculiar way regarding birthing of young whether human or animal. While giving birth is the God-planned continuation of generations, difficult issues frequently arise.

All cows can have problems calving whether baby is backwards, too big, or other issues, and sometimes require man’s assistance. After a female bovine has had a calf or two, she generally doesn’t have issues, although there are exceptions.

However, two-year-old heifers more often have difficult birthing situations that require help to assure a live baby.

Sometimes more of an issue with first-time mothers is that they don’t understand how to care for their newborns. The heifers are still immature themselves, becoming confused following birthing trauma and ignore their first calves.

Mature cows remain in native pastures year around and most of the time do fine with once-a-day inspection.

It’s not the same with first-calf heifers, so at this ranch they are brought to headquarters for closer attention.

By the book, after romancing with a bull, a bovine female should calve in nine months, nine days, nine hours, nine minutes, and nine seconds. None ever seem to “do it” that precisely. Some calve in less time and others take considerably longer.

Two first-calf heifers had their babies ahead of time just fine in the winter pasture. Remainder are now in the yard corral and are being checked about every two hours.

Yes, two heifers so far have required assistance while birthing. A man-powered mechanical mechanism was used to “pull” the babies out of their mothers.

Several more pairs are in the barn protected from the cold, and one baby is in the ranch house fighting for survival with human nursing.

Is it any wonder there’s a shortage of beef and grocery store meat prices are sky-high?

Reminded of Proverbs 7:22: “Soon she has the calf eating out of her hand. Before you know it, he’s trotting behind her.”

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

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