Saturday dawned bright and warm at 45 degrees, and soon warmed to a balmy 65! I took advantage of the spring weather to sort off another dozen pairs from out of the calving field. It was during lunch that I noticed a heifer calving.
From the front window I could see her up and down at the far end of the field, obviously in labor. An hour and a half later she still had not accomplished her mission so I went out to run her into the shed.
But when I got closer I could see that she had a water bag showing. That was progress, so I left her alone and went to work on another project for awhile. By the time I was ready to go make the afternoon feeding she had a new calf, and another heifer was showing her restless behavior.
We had plans for the evening: supper and the symphony with friends from Livingston. We were to meet them at a restaurant in Bozeman at 5:30 – I would need to be on the road at 4:00.
After feeding, I jumped in the shower then changed into nice clothes. I didn’t knot my necktie quite yet as this second heifer was obviously in labor. After watching her awhile longer I called my wife to tell her I wouldn’t make supper – I couldn’t leave until this heifer had calved.
It was about that time that the wind changed and the temperature began to plummet. I pulled on my insulated overalls, overboots, and a coat and went out to run this heifer in the shed. I chilled quickly, so after I had the heifer in the shed I returned to the house for a vest – pulling the sled behind me. While at the house for more clothes I also filled a jug with warm soapy water.
The new calf from the first heifer was already up and looking for an udder, but he was still wet, and sleet was coming out of a darkening sky. I hog-tied him and put him in the sled. His mother followed faithfully as I headed back down to the shed.
The sleet pattered pleasantly on the tin roof – it was a treat to be inside out of the weather!
The second heifer hadn’t calved yet and two hours had passed since she started active labor. It didn’t take long to run her into the stanchion and pull the calf. With both new pairs safely in the shed I headed back to the house and changed clothes again.
It was now 5:30. I called the restaurant and intercepted our friends to explain why they would be eating alone. I called my wife to tell her I was heading out from the ranch to meet her in town. We met at the drive-in restaurant in Livingston and picked up burgers for the road – not the fine dining experience we had been anticipating.
We made the symphony with time to spare. The performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony closed in a powerful finale, complete with pounding timpani, soaring french horns, a large choral group. We finished the evening with coffee and dessert at a local establishment, and returned home in the dark to start all over again in the morning.