Tagging Calves

Not all cows are happy about the tender loving care of ranchers and cowboys.

And now, for my next understatement!

There are bovine critters that almost seem to have it in for drovers, horses, and pick up trucks.

Years ago we had a herd of Simmental and half Simmental cattle. Like a friend of mine said, “They look kind of like extra large Herefords.” Mostly these were pretty domestic cattle. However, some were true river bottom brush snakes.

One old battle-ax in particular maintains a special place in my memory as well as a special place in hell. Old 113 was her number.Even though our particular lucky number is 13, it didn’t apply in her case. She was difficult to pen in the corrals. She didn’t like horses. And in particular, she was averse to her calves being messed with. Never was this brought home more clearly than when her newborn calf needed to be weighed and ear tagged.

Normally we caught newborns when feeding “cake” (range cubes), either by roping or tackling them. Then we hogtied them, and weighed them with cotton scales. Next, we put a pierced ear tag in with mama’s number. Ordinarily this whole operation took less than a minute, and since mom was preoccupied with chasing cubes, there wasn’t much to worry about.

Not so old 113!

As soon as we caught her calf, and he started bleating, she was right there! She had a set of ivories like handlebars on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and she knew how to use them. In order to get away from her, I swung the calf up into the bed of the 4 x 4 pickup.

She spun around the truck, flipping nines in her tail and bawling. Finally, in a fit of angry frustration, she came up over the tailgate, into the bed of the pickup!

I had all kinds of plans for the little fella, but only had time to snap the ear tag in his left ear and bail out over the side.

It’s the only time I can remember training a range cow to load into a pick up!

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