Like most farmers and ranchers the drought has been tough on The Mace Place. We had to cull our herd in 2011. I cried every time the Copenhagen Cowboy (aka David) would haul off another load of Mommas. It just broke my heart to see them going. We have started building the herd back up but if we don’t get some much needed rain we won’t be able to feed them either.
I realize that we aren’t as big as some operations but that doesn’t mean it hurts any less. Every calf lost or cow culled means less profit at the end of the year.
This summer was extremely hot and we had to keep a close eye on the fall calves that were being born in the extreme heat. Who would have guessed we would have such high temperatures in September! David and I would check every evening to make sure the calves weren’t stressing out.
On one particular evening we had gone out and noticed a calf lying in the shade of a cedar tree. As we got closer we noticed he was convulsing. David grabbed him and laid him across his lap and I jumped onto the back of the 4 wheeler and held on as David raced back to the barn. We needed to cool this calf down and FAST! The Momma was chasing us trying to get her calf back from us. As we approached the lot I jumped off the moving 4 wheeler so I could shut the gate before Momma could get into the lot.
David jumped off the 4 wheeler with the calf still in his arms and threw him into the water tank. Momma was running back and forth along the fence line, she was mad. I held the baby calf for the longest time trying to cool him down. His chest was so hot to the touch. I talked softly to him as he struggled to breath. My heart just broke after holding him for so long and watching him take his very last breath. David helped me get him out of the water tank and we laid him in the lot and let his Momma in. The mewing sounds they make just tear at my heart. She licked on him and mewed to him. We left her in the lot for the evening so she could mourn her baby. I cried all the way back to the house.
There are parts of ranching that I just hate, like this, but then watching the new baby calves being born and finding their legs and sucking for the first time. Or, when they run and buck with their tails straight in the air trying to fight with the feed truck as we drive out to feed. These times make me giggle and laugh.