By Glenda Price: FNM columnist
We found a newborn calf, still wet, shivering in the freezing springtime wind. For the longest time we couldn’t find the mother, and the wind was getting colder by the minute. Finally, we topped a hill a mile away from the baby and saw what had to be the mama cow. She was big and wild-eyed, trekking out in a long trot, unshed afterbirth dragging behind.
Apparently, she’d managed to hide herself in the brush when we gathered the springer cows a couple of days before and brought them close to the barn so we could keep an eye on them.
We went to the house, loaded up the only horse handy (a green-broke bay gelding) and returned. By then Mama was at the back side of the three-section pasture, heading for parts unknown.
We dried the baby off with gunny sacks and loaded him in the trailer. I went back to the house and opened the corral gate. By the time Gene got there with Mama she was on the prod, big time. We managed to get her in the water lot, but she wanted no part of the corral.
I was afoot, and couldn’t decide whether to stay out of the way or try to help. After about ten runs at — and away from— the gate her eyes were red, and snot was hanging from her nose.
This, obviously, was not the time to introduce a rope to the little bay. He already had rollers in his nose and had mostly forgotten what neck reining was about. Self preservation took over when big Old Biddy charged him. Her head went between his front legs and she lifted him off the ground. Lucky she had no horns. Gene, by then, was also thinking of self preservation and hanging onto the saddlehorn.
The cow backed off and they had a stare-down. Gene yelled over at me, “The only way she’s ever going in is if you stand in the gate.”
I thought about that. Yes, we’re about to have a heck of a wreck and yes, he’s right and yes, I don’t want him to get hurt. But I’m not ready to sacrifice my body, either. I kinda like it. True love took over, though, and I stood in the open gate. I even yelled, “Hey, Heifer! Over here!” I think maybe I was crazy.
The livestock scales are beside the corral gate, mounted on a foot-high concrete slab. The wooden slat sides are seven feet tall. Rickety.
It took two seconds tops for Old Biddy to see me, and she didn’t even paw the ground first. I’m trying to figure out what to do. She’s getting closer.
Next thing I know I’m hanging onto the top slat of the scales and my hip pockets are full of snot. I didn’t touch a thing on the way up.
Later — much later — it was funny.
Some females just don’t take to motherhood. We had to get another cow to raise that baby.
Glenda Price has been a contributing editor to New Mexico Stockman magazine since 1982. Contact her at: