Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Calving Season or Off Season

For many cattle breeders, fall is their chosen time for calving. At H&K, our herd is primarily late winter/early spring calvers. Reading social media yesterday, a fellow blogger, Laurie Link, of Country LINKed asked her readers to weigh in their guess as to whether the latest arrival was a bull or heifer calf.
This instantly took me back a few years to when our little cattle whisperer was maybe 6 or 7. She helped her daddy check cows, especially when we are calving. Honestly she'd be happy to go to school later in the day and help him everyday, but alas, she's hindered by law to only helping on weekends and off school times. 
It was one of those times, on a cold brisk morning as my Farmer and the whisperer were headed to check cows at a neighboring farm where we take care of a herd of Saler/Red Angus cross herd owned by a veterinarian who lives about 60 miles away. 
As they drove, of course the conversation was one of bovine in nature, as most conversations are with our sweet JH. Out of the blue, she asked the Farmer,"Do you know how to tell the difference between a bull and heifer calf?"
Assuming he knew the answer and interested in her take on this subject, my Farmer asks,"How?" To which, Miss Sass, the Great JH, rolls her eyes, lets out a disgusted sigh at what she must deal with and commences to schooling her daddy. 
So it seems, according to our local cattle whisperer, who at the time might have weighed 75 pounds and likely stood no more than 4 foot tall; that her father had no idea the proper procedure. While my poor simple Farmer was basing assessments purely on checking for the presence (or of course absence) of notably "hangy downy" parts (my ha ha spin and politically correctness); our sweet JH instructed him to simply look into the animals eyes.

Actually eyelashes to be specific.

Based on her intensive research during her many years as a cattlewoman, the most discerning of ranch folk could deduce from simple observation of the eyelashes of a newborn calf. And if one were to follow this philosophy the result would be quite simple. Long eyelashes, heifer calf obviously, and well those short eyelashes, were those of a bull, for sure. 
While my Farmer concentrated on keeping a straight face and not driving off the road while laughing hysterically (which he was thankfully able to hold inside), my first response to this report was much less muted, and I quickly retorted, 'has she ever looked at her own brothers eyelashes, apparently this scientific data she's collected doesn't carry over to other species.' (I think somedays, or MOST days, my Farmer is glad there are ONLY two of us GIRLS in the house) 
Since then she's decided that while her method mostly works for her, that there MIGHT be a few other more sure fire obvious ones. But she still likes to check the cows and calves with her daddy, calving season or not. 

Not calving season for us, but there is ALWAYS something to keep us busy,
From Tulip~

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