Ice, Ice Baby
We have one red cow… One. You would think that that would make her stand out enough in our herd, but I guess she needed more attention. So the other night she let her calf wander out onto the river. The warmer weather has the ice falling out of the river so this wasn’t a particularly safe excursion for a 1/2 day old calf. This spot that the calf chose had water running next to the bank on each side with the ice pushed up in the middle.
Above, you can see the ice pushed up and cracked. My dad found him out there on one of the middle of the night checks and called my brother and I for help. We didn’t want to try walking out there to get the calf because we didn’t want to go floating down the river ourselves. The next step was to try to rope him and drag him to the bank. Unfortunately, after trying several times and missing, the calf decided that he didn’t want to put up with us anymore. He started to walk the other way each time we would get on the back close enough to throw a loop at him.
It was back to the drawing board. My father thought maybe a leg hook would be good if we could make one that was long enough to reach out there. After a little bit of time at the shop, we had a hook made out of a couple of 2x2s, a broken rake tooth, a few screws, and some Gorilla tape. With Dad on one side of the river and me on the other we tried again. Dad tried to rope the calf and it moved away from him towards me. I waited until he got as close as he was going to, then reached out with the leg hook and caught his left front leg. I began to pull and he came towards me a few feet, but then he stopped. He was trying to stop himself from being pulled and put his back legs into the crack on accident and he was stuck. The hook slipped off of his front leg. I traded the hook for my rope and tossed it around the calf. Luckily, with that around him, his legs pulled right out of the crack. He had to go through a little bit of water and was dragged up a snowy bank, but he was returned to his mother.
After a reunion, and Red trying to dry him off, we took him up the shop to spend the rest of the night where it was dry and warmer. It is nothing compared to the problems some other ranchers across the country are facing right now, but a small night-time adventure. Hopefully, the calves from here on out are happy enough to stay on dry land.
by Brandon Greet