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Just a thought…

By Staff | Mar 23, 2012

What an education this job as editor provides.

This week I learned about calving on a local ranch. First of all, despite very good directions, I got lost on the way to the ranch and ended up on a road with a Road Closed sign. Even though the road was open and I might have been able to get through, I heeded the warning.

See, county commissioners, some people do pay attention to the signs. Of course, I knew I would have to answer to you guys, and I do have a habit of ending up in the ditch sometimes out in the country. If God had wanted gravel roads he wouldn’t have made interstate highways.

I had the rancher’s phone number and my cell phone so I was okay. He told me where I could go instead, and he didn’t laugh too much at my predicament. Yet, I still went to the wrong place first. I don’t know if he was out on his tractor and saw me or what. He called me again and said to keep coming, it’s the next one, as I parked at the wrong place.

I got out of the car with “city slicker” stamped on my forehead.

Soon I was in the barn and got some lessons on how calving works. Each calf is tagged after it is born. Heifers get green tags and bulls get orange tags. The tags tell the rancher the number of the calf and date born. If there are twins, the numbers 1 and 2 are added to the tag, depending on which one was delivered first or second. I thought that was pretty interesting.

He showed me a more current method of keeping track of who is calving when and which animal needs help when. There were several cameras around the inside of the barn. In the kitchen of the house is a computer, and soon we were watching what the calves were up to in the barn. No more going out in a blizzard to check cows and calves unless absolutely necessary. Life is good.

I learned that calving lasts from mid- February to the end of March for this particular rancher. If a rancher is 93% successful with calving, that is a good thing. This means that 93% of the calves survive. Calves meet their demise in a number of ways. One is to be born dead. Another is to die during the birth process when it goes on too long or something goes wrong. And once in awhile, calves are stepped on by their own mothers, accidentally, of course.

This ranch family was going to end up with over 100 new calves this season. Wow! That is a lot of mouths to feed for the summer.

As I left the ranch, I managed to turn the wrong way, even though the rancher had told me specifically which way to turn. I am not as dumb as I look. I figured I better turn around and go the way he told me to. Thank goodness, he was in the barn checking on the calves when I left Otherwise, I would probably still be able to hear him laughing.

Barta is The Tribune’s editor

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