Hangin’ With My Heifers

A narrative: a ranch wife’s first hand experiences and emotions of calving heifers during February in Missouri. Feel the joys and frustrations as the process unfolds. Will she dream of the comforts and stability of her old office job or profit both physically and mentally from this new-found responsibility?

I arrived home on January 30 to meet my newest ranch companions: a group I would become very close with during the following 30-45 days.

A Gift

Purchased and chosen by my husband and son; a pleasant surprise. I think it also involved the assumption that –Without a “town job” I now have more time for projects like this.

Meet my posse of ten Angus bred heifers.

The group of ten, black, North Missouri raised, 1125 pound heifers that are AI bred to Sydenstricker Exceed Angus Bulls, and due to calve Feb. 25.

They have a calm disposition but are a bit apprehensive of their new surroundings. Going into February, these gals have the potential to be something great.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Getting Personal

I named them “1, 2, 3….10”

There is a large amount of pressure bestowed on these females. They have the capability to not only provide me with an ear for listening (my days often get lonely here by myself), but they’ll also serve as a special vessel for bringing new life into this world.

Terms like “going to have lunch with the girls”, “going to go call my gal pal” or “girls night out” just got new meaning.

The Conditions

The weather and facilities are a huge factor when it comes to calving.

As we approach “crunch time”, we enter blizzard conditions and a deep freeze that began February 8.

5-Day weather forecast.

I was grateful to have them close to home with barns available and in close proximity to the warm house.

The Schedule

The calving and monitoring process can become redundant. Waking up overnight, every night, for a fruitless trip to the barn can be tiring. Occasionally, you’re rewarded with an awesome experience of being the first human to welcome a new calf into the world.

My days and weeks have included checking the pens at 11am, 9pm, midnight, 2:30am, 4:00am, getting roused from bed to come help dry off a calf at 5:50am and everything in between!

Calendar of Events:

Jan. 30: Heifers arrive at Schwieter Land and Livestock
Feb. 13: First Calf Born, followed by Feb. 18, 19, 21, 22, 23 (2) and March 1
Feb. 25: AI Due Date
March 9: Sale Date (Partial)
April 1: Last Calf Born

This is first calf born and the weather conditions at 8:45 that evening. Warmed by the heater, dried with towels and a blow dryer and sent back out with mama to spend the night in a horse stall equipped with tarps blocking any visible openings. Saving all extremities was our goal- success.

The due date of February 25, came and went. Not a single calf was born. Going in to this, I didn’t expect all 10 to really calve on that Thursday, but I had imagined dedicating the day and night to checking heifers. I had the anticipation of finding a new calf with each trip to the barn, as they’d “spit” them out on this calculated day of the pregnancy cycle.

The Struggles

Sure, I had my moments of distress- just like this heifer pictured here. More like- caused by this heifer here.

She couldn’t have the bull calf on her own. She also would not go into the barn on her own! So with the help of Casey, we got her in, pulled the calf and now they’re a happy little family.

I’ll admit that there were a few minutes there when I was ready to retire from the calving-life and move to town! But with the happy ending to this heifer’s story and a few encouraging words from my husband, I’m back out checking the herd.

The Updates

Initial post- (30 days in) March 2: 8 healthy calves up and running around. The nightly checks continue as I patiently wait for the remaining 2 to calve.

Update March 9: Sold 8 pairs. Still waiting for remaining 2 to calve.

Update March 15: Still waiting…. The last two are spoken for, but won’t leave until the calves are born. Going to assume they were misrepresented when we bought them. Heifers due on Feb. 25 shouldn’t be 3 weeks late.

Update March 27: Calf nine was born.

Update April 1: Last Calf, the tenth and final one, was born.

The Conclusion

So this “one day deal” with them all bred to calve Feb. 25, has drug out into 3 months! February, March and up until April 1- of all days, April Fool’s Day. Does it mean I’m a fool for attempting this? I don’t think so. There was a profit to be made. And my time and effort is simply a donation. The experience was priceless. The last two being written while I smirk.

All in all, this project was very rewarding, not just from the financial aspect, but also for personal growth and a sense of purpose. I couldn’t just stop, give up or stay asleep in the warm house, even if it crossed my mind- actual lives depended on me. That isn’t a new concept for ranch life; all lives are important.

First-calf heifers are a little different. You worry about them a little extra. You provide them with special care. You observe them, and assist them if needed. I even talked to them.

The heifers have a certain vulnerability that sets them apart. There’s something special about a first-calf heifer that a mother can relate to. I’ve been a first-time mom too.

Maybe it was just this group, but we created a special bond. They didn’t try to kill me and (I think) they built up a trust for me.

I hope that they knew I was always trying to help them and only wanted what was best for them.

And when they were calving (or we were pulling)- I was praying and cheering for them.

Related Posts:
My Ranch Wife Life- As a Ranger Driver
All of our Cattle Aren’t This Gentle- Read more about the Crazy Ones

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *