Binoculars: Our Buddy At Calving Time

Having binoculars is a handy way to check on a cow from a distance that’s calving but we never used to use binoculars much at calving time because we were too cheap to get a good pair.

We had several cheapie ones but every time we tried to use them they just frustrated us. They didn’t have much power and we could never read the number on an eartag so they usually ended up in the kids’ toybox.

It wasn’t until we found a pair after a heavy rainstorm one summer while out checking stock tanks that we owned a good pair of binoculars. They had washed down a hill and landed in the middle of the road we used for checking. It was our lucky day, but after finding out what they cost, I felt sorry for the guy—most likely a hunter—who lost them. They were waterproof and expensive.

We have since used them regularly for glassing over the cow herd for signs of any potential calvers, or to monitor a cow’s calving progress without disturbing her. When my husband and I check at night, we take the binoculars with us. Now that we’re getting older and use reading glasses more, it’s harder for us to read ear tags with a naked eye. Our free binoculars have come in really handy to read a cow’s number we want to make note of to watch or to be able to tell from a distance if the black spot we see is a calf or cow turd (a mistake we’ve made before). I’ve even used the binoculars to determine if a new calf has sucked a teat by glassing the cow’s udders.

We can see the springer bunch (cows showing signs of getting close to calving time for those unfamiliar with the term) that’s up by the barn at the hay rack from our house. We can also see cows at the nearby dam, lick tubs, salt, and watertank, from our living room window.

From the kitchen window we can see any cows hanging at the popular calving spot at the corner fence east of our house.

Most of the time, we keep the binoculars handy by the window until we need to take them with us to check from the four-wheeler or ranch pickup.


I’ve come to rely on them so much that I’m not sure what we did before. Anymore, I just can’t see without them.

About ranchwifeslant

Amy writes a humor column based on rural living and ranch life from the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. She and her husband raise their two kids on a fourth generation cow/calf operation near Pringle; the Elk Capital of South Dakota.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Binoculars: Our Buddy At Calving Time

  1. Jerry Bamsey says:

    The binocular story brought back many memories of my time as a Farmer. Not so much the binoculars but being to cheap to buy anything. Looking back ,the every day animal chores would of been a lot easyer if I would have put out the money to by some curtain items. Oh well such is life, I wouldn’t trade those days for anything. Thanks for the article Amy and have a good calving season.. PS My oldest daughter is named Amy and she still lives on the old farm.

    • ranchwifeslant says:

      I think being frugal just goes with the territory and I know that we aren’t the only ones. It’s kind of a feast or famine job at times and farmers and ranchers just learn how to adapt and spend wisely, but you’re right; sometimes spending just a little more is worth it, but our outfit has a hard time figuring that out. LOL. I can tell that you are a very smart man: you’re oldest child is a girl, you named her Amy, and she’s followed in your footsteps. 🙂 Good job. Thanks so much for taking time out of your day to read my stuff.

Comments are closed.