A lot of ranchers have gone to May calving. Calf your cows out on green grass. Like the deer and the antelope do.
It will be fun they said. You won’t have to fight through the mud and the snow. It will be fun they said. Your calves won’t get scours. You won’t have wet, cold calves in the house. It will be fun they said.
Last week on Tuesday it was 82. Above. It was hot. And windy. On Saturday it was in the low thirties and a blizzard. You couldn’t see a quarter of a mile. Cows and baby calves were bunched up along the tree rows and bellering for feed. It was fun. Just like they said.
I’m kind of like that song that says, “True Grit’s the only movie I’ve understood in years”.
Oh, I used to be a movie guy. Back in the old days of the Empire theatre in Minot. James Bond movies. Westerns. Take your best girl on Saturday night. Not like I had a lot of best girls. I had to travel a couple hundred miles to get a date. Fooled Shirley though.
She thought I had money and cows. All I had was the hat!
Know what I remember best about the movies? The giant cups of buttered popcorn. Real butter. And I mean big cups. It was so good, you were tempted to eat the big cups because they had so much butter on the inside!
But, enough of that. It’s about four o’clock in the morning when I’m writing this. I have been up with a couple heifers (bovines) since midnight. You think TV is bad in the evening? Wait until you try to find something worth watching between midnight and 4 a.m.
So, I want to explain a few things to you non-ranchers. If you see a rancher in the grocery store buying baking soda and beef consommé soup, he’s not making meth. He’s doctoring scoured calves. Don’t ask him if he’s opening a restaurant.
If a ranch wife comes in and buys several pair of nylons, she is not going on a vacation. She is buying them to put over calves ears to keep them from freezing. Don’t kid her about growing a couple sizes since last fall.
If you are sitting patiently at a stop sign and a pickup and trailer runs the sign and is pointed towards the vet clinic, don’t call the cops. Call the vet and tell him to get his c-section stuff ready.
Most years, you can start a fist fight, by commenting that this snow is sure good moisture. Although after the last couple years of drought, short hay, and dry dugouts, you might be able to slip this comment by this year. At least for awhile.
If you see a rancher with bloodshot eyes and a weeks worth the whiskers, don’t ask him if he has been in a card game. Or just returned from Vegas. Don’t ask him how it’s going. Just smile politely and tell him to have a nice day.
If you are eating in a restaurant, and a rancher with used hay and placenta all over his jacket is sitting next to you, and his wife has on wore out Carharts and overshoes, and they have a pickup outside the café with a calf in the cab, a dog in the back, a heifer in the trailer, and a note from the bank on the dash….This is important! Do not comment on the high price of beef! People have been killed for less.
When you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Rest assured. You are not the only one up. There is a rancher, or a ranchers wife, or their kids, pulling overshoes on as you pull the covers back up. And they are wading through the mud and snow and missing sleep.
And they do it whether calves are thirty cents or a dollar. Whether they are making a hundred dollars a head. Or losing two hundred. They’ll do it tonight. And tomorrow. And next year. Why? Cause they are cattle people.
Order a steak. They are cheap.