Wheezy and I never really got along but we had an understanding. I was the boss and she would get feed and fresh water if she left me alone. She didn’t have this agreement with the rest of the herd though. She was pretty sure that one day she would be queen if she kept running the others out of the feeder or out of her way in general.
Oh Thelma! It was the week of the county fair, that time of year that I end up completely ignoring household duties and spend all of my energy at the fair. I had picked Monday as the day that Sweet Caroline would have her calf. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, nothing. Thursday morning Mike went out to take care of morning chores and the phone rang. The only time the phone rings that early in the morning is when Mike is calling from the barn.
“You’d better come out here!”
I was out the door in my flip flops, bathrobe and work gloves. I’ve learned to always go right away and always bring gloves. I have yet to get the proper footwear to sink in to the process. This is it! Caroline is finally calving! I rushed in to the barn and there she was, big, uncomfortable and pregnant. I found Mike out by the corral gate, on the other side was the rest of the herd eating their breakfast same as any other morning.
Caroline followed me out of the barn and there the three of us stood looking through the gate at a little black calf that was born within the last few hours.
“Are you kidding me?!”
Its official, I have to start wearing pants to the barn in the morning. I held out as long as I could. The time has come where my short summer night gown and long, fuzzy bathrobe is no match for the sub-zero temps and biting wind. Winter is once again here and my feelings for morning chores haven’t changed; they’re still my favorite. A bonus this winter is I’m not too pregnant for coveralls to fit!
The new hayloft gives some extra insulation over the cow pen despite the barn walls that are quite drafty. In fact after a good west wind everything has a heavy dusting of snow because the barn boards have weathered so much over the years. On the extra cold mornings the refuge of the barn is welcomed, as it’s always a few degrees warmer in there. When the mornings are warmed up to -15 in the barn pants are a good idea.
Any given Sunday we are late for the early church service. It’s not due to lack of effort, but for whatever reason there is always something that ends up setting us a few minutes behind. So a Sunday morning surprise is usually when we arrive a couple minutes early or at least on time. The few times we have made it just in time, they’ve started without us anyway. It’s enough of a surprise that when we made a half hour early on Christmas Eve the priest congratulated us and asked if we were told mass was at three instead of four. Hey, if we don’t make it to the early service, we don’t make it at all! And if the sermons were a little shorter, there would be a better chance of the whole family getting to sit together and get the message rather than taking turns hauling the little ones out because their one and two year old attention has been lost. Just a thought.
Last Sunday however the surprise was much greater and yes we were a couple minutes late as usual. Mike and I had it together that morning and were on schedule to make it to church on time (7:30 am by the way). He went out to feed the cows and I was getting the kids a quick something to eat to tide them over until mass was through. The phone rings just as a little girl’s handful of juicy watermelon hits the floor.
“Hey, put your boots on and bring a towel to the barn! Wheezy had her calf and it’s out of the fence!”
Sure! Why not?! We need to be in the car in five minutes.
“Ok little girl, on the floor for you. Melon can be eaten standing, or you’ll fall out of the highchair. I need to go help daddy in the barn.”
I grabbed the first towel I could find and “ran” out the door. By the time I got out there the calf was back through the fence and the distraught mama was calmed again… slightly. This was her first calf and she was still getting things figured out. By the looks of it, he was only on the ground for an hour or so before Mike found him. We were going to try and get the pair separated from the others so they could get things figured out without being on defense at the same time. With only half an unspoken plan we turned to head out of the barn and do a quick “cattle cut” with our big herd of 5 mini’s (ha!) and there stood the Little Boy. Mud boots on, hands in his pockets, quietly watching, not wanting to be left out of whatever Mama had to rush to the barn for.
Church! No time for separation right now. I stood quietly in the door of the barn and watched for a minute to make sure Wheezy was going to feed the little guy. She calmed and he started eating. All was good.
I picked up the Little Boy and we took a quick waddle around the corral so that he could see the new calf that caused the commotion while Mike went to the house to get the Little Miss in the car. The ride to town was filled with talk of the calf that the vet had guess to be due two weeks from now. As soon as mass was over the Little Boy was happy to tell anyone that he had a new baby calf and ducks were coming out of their shells!
After picking up groceries and breakfast with the family, I took the kids home as it was almost naptime and Mike headed to town with my dad to pick up a cattle gate for a different project. When home we went about our business as usual, unloading groceries and such. The kids wanted to go see the cows and off they went. With a new mama out there I was close behind them, I’m not sure how protective she will be. There she was, throwing a fit in the corral and the calf was nowhere to be found.
The Little Miss was quickly brought in for a nap. (Thank goodness she was ready!) Hand in hand the Little Boy and I went out to find Gus. (He got his name during breakfast) It didn’t take too long and I noticed a tiny black spot down the hill in the pasture. Heeding to my instruction “Wait here.” I left the Little Boy watching from the top of the hill and headed down with the rope halter. Here’s where Tales of the Pregnant Farmer meets a slight déjà vu. It wasn’t too long ago that I was doing the very same thing during a snowy November, home alone with the Little Boy, pregnant and carrying Elvis back to the pen. (The Elvis story is not one listed in Tales of the Pregnant Farmer, incase you go searching.)
It was quite easy to get the halter on Gus. He was pretty well settled in to his spot in the sun and not interested in moving. I scratched him for a minute and just in time, Mike and dad pulled in. Mike was in the pasture in no time to pick up the calf that wasn’t planning on walking back on his own and knowing full well I was planning to carry him myself. With instruction on the easiest way I’ve found to carry a calf we were on our way to the barn. By this time, the Little Boy and Papa were talking to the cows and came over to greet Gus. Wheezy was anxiously waiting for him on the other side of the fence but we decided to take advantage of the separation of long horned mama and baby and banded him right away.
After things settled down towards the end of the day we were able to get the girls and Gus penned in in the cattle panel section. They can have their space from the Elvis and G.W. and Gus won’t be able to escape again.
“You look like my wife.”
It’s a popular rodeo clown joke. That was funny at the first couple rodeos when you were old enough to get the joke. Now it’s more of an “eye roller”. It takes a pretty good clown to pull that one off these days as far as I’m concerned… Unless you’re my husband. He’s not a rodeo clown but has once again managed to pull off a questionable feat.
I got home from another long day at work to find my family swinging on the front porch. A sight that always makes me smile. When I joined them we began talking about our days and enjoying a few minutes before going in for supper when my husband says:
“Don’t take this wrong, but tonight when we were feeding the cows I realized you look like Wheezy.” (For the newer readers Wheezy is my brother’s pregnant heifer.) “She walked into the barn and the look on her face was a lot like yours. She looked very uncomfortable.” (She also looks big and pregnant. We are due about a month apart.)
Last weekend we were at my sisters for family supper. It had been a great day– we cleaned some of the new garden plot, I cleaned the whole chicken coop and got the goats hooves trimmed! Needless to say by the time supper was ready I was moving very slow. We were called to come dish up and my husband says “Come on Wheezy. Do you need help?” Mom picked up on “Wheezy” right away and then the story came.
First, the first time he mentioned I looked like Wheezy and on from there… “I can’t get away from it! I get the same look in the house as I get in the barn!” On he continued, all the while the rest of us were laughing so hard we were crying. I should have taken a video because this isn’t even half of what he had to say and I was laughing too hard to take note of everything that was coming so enthusiastically from his direction. Maybe next time (I’m sure there will be a next time) I will have to have him write the story.
Gentlemen, there are very few times that likening your wife to a cow will result in a favorable response from her. I don’t recommend trying, but if you do I wish you the best of luck!