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Well February is here and so are a few chilly calves… more than the Wald ranch expected anyway! We were caught a little off guard, as our normal calving season isn’t supposed to start until March, but it seems that our cows decided they’d get a head start on us. What with this lovely tropical weather and all.

I’m so very glad they did, ‘cause now I get to wake up and put a cold saddle on a cold horse’s cold back (on top of whatever ice I couldn’t manage to scrape off) and go riding after some cow that made up her mind to have a backwards calf, first thing in the morning on a school day.

Needless to say, all of my horses are a little apprehensive when they see me coming! The year started off in a slightly negative way… every calf we had was backwards and had to be pulled. The odds weren’t in our favor I should say. Then things picked up a little but then this year’s ice age showed up.

This made everything very white and the ranch a frigid place. In the deep cold, a cow can have a calf all fine and dandy but being wet, the calf might get iced up and lose the desire to suck and therefore die if we don’t get him into the barn in time to thaw him out. When this happens, we have to go put the calf into a sled and pull it behind a horse with the mother following (hopefully).

Once at the barn, the calf-sickle gets put into a wooden crate with a propane heater at one end. He’ll stay in there until we deem him properly “cooked” and ready to suck and therefore live. If all goes well, the cow and calf should be happy, healthy and out of our barn in a couple days depending on the weather, which doesn’t seem to care if we depend on it or not. All in all, calving season makes for a very interesting and usually fun time of year, although busy!

Jackson Wald is a featured columnist for High Minded Horseman and a fine example of Montana’s ranching youth. He can generally be found on the family ranch, working cattle and his latest colt project; usually at the same time.

Comments for Calving in February

  1. Jinglebob on March 19, 2011 Great job Jake! Calf-sicle! I love it! Well, the word, not the poor little frozen boogers!
  2. Aleena M. on May 12, 2011 Hey Jake, I like your article. I love the humor. Our foaling has kinda started out rough also. We have lost only one foal so far and we don’t know what happend to her, so I guess thats better than last year when we lost most of our foals! Well good luck on you articles! Seeya.