I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older. But I can’t remember the wind blowing like it has recently. I mean, every morning, the windows are rattling and dirt is blowing through the yard. But, since we are calving, I guess that is better than snow blowing through the yard.
The other day we lost a calf. Well, we didn’t really lose it. The cow lost it. I mean it died. Sorry to break the news to you like that. But, it happens. The only thing we could figure out was that the cow was trying to have that little guy against the wind. If she had only stood up and turned around, would have been all right.
Every rancher who has swung a leg over a horse, or saddled up the four-wheeler for a quick check in the morning, has had the experience of losing calves. Like I said, it happens. Weather can take a heavy toll during calving season. This year, at least here, has been ideal. Except for the wind.
We haven’t had a cold calf in the house this spring! Not one! None in the bathtub!
What? You don’t know about the bathtub?
Over the years, ranchers have warmed up cold calves by various means. Some have hot boxes. A square box with a grated bottom that you lay the calf on. A heater blows warm air under and around the calf. Ingenious invention.
We have warmed them up in tractor cabs, pickup cabs, gunnysacks in the entryway, and even shared our schnapps with them. We’ve poured warm coffee in them and taken our jacket off and wrapped it around a cold calf.
But if you are able to, one of the best ways to warm a cold calf up is place them in a bathtub of real warm water. Or, if you are short of water, share a warm shower with them. Not really. It makes a scary picture doesn’t it?
I was thinking about one we lost twenty or thirty years ago. It had to be. Because the census was being taken.
It was a cold wet storm and we had been calving a bunch of cows. There was always a calf in the basement being warmed up and that morning I had brought a terrible cold one upstairs and threw it in the tub. Shirley had poured warm coffee down the calf and rubbed it down, but alas, I had discovered this baby too late and the patient succumbed to the weather.
We had been busy trying to feed and save others and left this dead one in the bathtub.
Just after noon, a young lady drove into the yard and came to the door. She was a census worker. Well, we were just having dinner and as country folks do, we invited her for a cup of coffee or dinner, while we answered her questions.
As the conversation went on, and the coffee went down, the young lady asked if she could use our bathroom.
“Sure, it’s right down at the end of the hall.”
We heard a stifled scream, and the lady came back and sat down in the kitchen. She had a strange expression, had paled slightly, and her voice was breaking slightly.
“Do you know you have a dead cow in your bathtub?”
I sometimes think Shirley could have married better.
Dean Meyer is a former state legislator and currently ranches in southwest North Daktoa. He has been a featured columnist around the state for many years.