Our Herd’s Appointment with the Doc

On some levels, I liken raising our cattle to raising my children. When my kids were born I made sure they had their vaccinations because I did not want to put them at risk for known life-threatening diseases. As caretakers, the same is true in caring for our cows and calves.

Every fall, we precondition our calves to prior to weaning, and we have our heifers and cows pregnancy tested and vaccinated as well. The bulls get worked first, then cows and heifers, then the calves. We are keeping some of our heifer calves as replacement heifers again.

 

We work everything north of Pringle at the barn and with the help of my neighbor ladies/friends I put on a dinner afterwards to feed the work crew that helps us.

On October 15th, my guys headed up to the barn about 7 a.m. to meet our neighbors; gather, and sort bulls, cows, and calves before the vet’s arrival at 9 a.m. 

 

About 8:30 I took up carmel rolls and coffee for everyone, and brought my camera to snap a few pictures before trekking back to the kitchen. The toughest part about being the cook is missing out on helping at the corrals. It kills me not to be outside up at the corrals where all the action’s at. It’s supposed to be work, but with many hands helping, it’s enjoyable kind of work and a chance to catch up on visiting the neighbors.

Once the vet showed up with her chute for preg checking, the guys put it in place so the work could begin.

 

This is our vet, Dr. Steph Stevens. Her “other” office is in Edgemont; about 25 or so miles southwest of us.

 

 

This is the Boss: he’s humoring me. Can you tell?

 

He and I like to confuse people—I call him the boss and he calls me the boss. Just one of our teasing little jokes.

 

The boss giving Doc Stevens the rundown.

 

This is the boss giving the second-in-command boss the cow herd holy grail—THE RECORD BOOK.

I was surprised that my husband handed over his record book to our 15-year old—my husband’s entire brain is in there. I know I wouldn’t want to be in charge of it. I would lose it. It’s never good to lose your mind, especially if your wife were to lose it for you. He’s lining out our son to record ear tag numbers of opens (cows that aren’t bred) in the back of the record book. 

After having some coffee, rolls and conversation, the guys got ready to start bringing the bulls up the chute.

 

Like parenting, raising cattle is a mixture of work, nurturing, caring, and feeding, and at times, they can be trying and challenging to deal with but regardless of our responsibilities for their care, we still love being responsible for them. Cattlemen take better care of their herd than they take care of themselves most of the time.

The day warmed up beautifully for working cows. Evidently no one told our son that.

 

Getting another bunch sorted off to bring up the chute.

Waiting for cows to get worked before bringing up more.

As my kids continue to grow, I discuss with our family doctor about my kids’ recommended vaccine booster shots once they reach certain ages and I ask questions about any new or recommended vaccines. It’s no different with our veterinarian and our cow herd. Large animal vets keep up-to-date on vaccines, diseases, illnesses etc. They also see a lot of cattle so our vet is our go-to person for questions we have about our herd’s health.

As babies during  my kids’ development  and interaction with other kids, there were viruses that they became exposed to that if not treated that could potentially become a serious health concern. A good parent is aware of these things and does what is necessary to ensure that their children stay healthy if changes in their health and normal behavior arise. A mom knows when her child is not feeling well and so does a good cattleman about his cows.

Our son contracted RSV (respitory syncytial virus) and rotavirus (severe diarrhea) as a baby and had to be hospitalized because of the effects of dehydration taking its toll on his little body. Calves can suffer from respitory problems and scours (calf diarrhea) just as severely. Whether it’s a human infant or baby calf, these kinds of problems can be life threatening and contagious and is the reason why the proper protection and prevention are important.

Once everything got worked, some BSing got done and some Budweiser got drunk, the crew headed down to our home for dinner. The weather was ideal for setting up outside.

I serve the same meal every year for branding and working cows: my homemade BBQ short ribs,

fork tender roast beef,

mashed potatoes and  gravy,

South Dakota style cream corn, homemade rolls, coleslaw, and my son’s favorite peanut butter pie. The neighbor ladies bring either another type of salad or a dessert.

My husband always makes sure the crew’s gone through the grub line before he does.

He’s the last one to go through even after the kitchen help.

 

Now, that we have our cows up at Pringle, when we go to Custer we love to admire our herd as we drive by. Seeing cows by the barn and on both sides of the highway is a pretty sight. Anybody who has cows knows exactly what I’m talking about.

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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.
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