Text and Photo by Kent Hanawalt

Our first calf came down to the feedground with his mother, bucking and jumping, happy to be free after being cooped up inside for nine months. In spite of having seen many thousands of new calves, this calf brought a smile to my face.

It was only ten above when he was born, but he obviously had a good mother. She would have licked him off thoroughly, and given him encouraging words until he found her udder. With a dry coat and a belly full of milk, he could stand the cold.

The cows are up west, two miles from the shed. They are not much of a concern—especially in milder weather. But you never know when a cow or calf will need help, and you never know for sure when the weather will turn bad again. A wolf can get into them wherever they are, but a guy feels a little better if those new calves are closer to the house.

The heifers are a mile down east, and I for sure want them here near the shed. These girls are just two years old and bearing their first calves. They haven’t attained their full growth yet and are more likely to need assistance. Having never been responsible for a calf before, they are less likely to be as attentive as an older cow. It pays to watch them more closely.

This first calf signals that calving season has officially begun. For most of the year the cattle are pretty much on their own, but for the next two months our focus will be on watching them for any signs of problems, and doing whatever we can to assure that this year’s calf crop gets off to a good start.

Read more from Kent Hanawalt at mellinniumcowboy.blogspot.com.