Monday, Husband had the Ranch Hand gather the cattle so calves could be weaned from their mamas. If you've never experienced this process, lemme 'splain.
A couple of days before the weaning process is to take place, Ranch Hand will condition the cows to come to the sound of his truck horn by feeding them cow feed. Husband says it's like candy to the cows (hmmm, Snickers? Twix? Skittles? or, my personal fav, Almond Roca?) I imagine it would taste good to them after months of nothing but grass.
Our ranching operation is not like the big ranches. Ranches who's operation requires big truck loads of cattle coming and going on a weekly basis. Ranches where the weather is your friend or nemesis. Nor do we lose precious sleep over the rise and fall of beef prices. No, we are wanna be ranchers.
We have cattle because, as Husband puts it, they look nice in the fields. It is rather bucolic seeing the majesty of a Longhorn against the tall, green grass. Well, the grass isn't green when it's been hotter than blue blazes for weeks at a time; though they still do look regal against the scorched earth.
Mama cows aren't in a hurry to wean the calves, they'd let the calves nurse forever if allowed to. So we help them along.
The weaned calves aren't the cute little babies like this one.
They're bigger, much bigger, sometimes they're almost as big as their mamas.
We always seem to have little adventures when weaning takes place. This time, a calf managed to find its way out of the pasture and onto the road near the house.
Fortunately, we have Dog. She's always been a great cow dog. No, her name is not Hank. Dog was on the job helping Husband and me corral the little critter back into the pasture where it belonged. Dog has the best herding instincts. Slow when she needs to be, sneaky, and given her age, 91 in dog years, she's still pretty fast. Dog and I have corralled many a wayward calf. I love that she's still willing to help despite the fact that we turned her into a Shepoodle this year. She's starting to look normal again.
I've digressed. So sorry.
After the mamas and calves are gathered it's time to separate them. This is the part I don't like. Especially when the calves are loaded into a big stock trailer pulled by an F-350 to be taken to parts unknown.
It's heart wrenching to me to hear the mamas bellowing for their babies, even though they are almost as big as the mama, and the babies crying for their mamas.
Aaaahhhh! I hate it!
Imagine leaving your little 5-year-old at kindergarten for the first time or sending your 18-year-old-almost-as-tall-as-you-baby off to college. Oh yeah, now you get the picture.
And so it is with the calves and their mamas.
I thought a lot about the whole having-your-baby-ripped-from-your-side scenario this time when we weaned the calves. You see, eight years ago Husband and I loaded our baby's most precious belongings into an F-150 and hauled her off to an institution of higher learning far away in the Rocky Mountains. I cried, bellowed even, when we left her behind to come back to our Little Corner of East Texas. I think she cried for her mama, at least I like thinking that she did.