My cowboy husband J-Dub needed to move some cows on Saturday. They had grazed down a pasture pretty well and needed some greener grass. You know, over on the other side. It is typically a rather large job for one cowboy alone to move 90 cows from one pasture to another, so he moved most of them with the feed wagon, aka the cake wagon, aka the feed truck. Cows recognize the Chevy that feeds them and once trained they most of them will follow the feed truck from here to kingdom come. Or at least into the next pasture. He later planned to get horseback to go pick up the few stragglers, the loners, the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
It is not uncommon for a mama cow to leave her baby calf to come feed. J-Dub noticed this one mama cow in particular who approached the gate, almost stepped over the threshold, almost crossed into the Promised Land of Greener Pastures, but then thought better of it and turned to go find her calf that she had abandoned for the buffet line. J-Dub made sure to leave the gate open so once they paired up, they could return to the rest of the herd.
Side note: While my husband was telling me this story, I just couldn’t understand it. It has been ingrained into my brain as a cowboy’s wife to ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATE! I just couldn’t understand why in the Sam Hill he would leave a gate open and allow all those cows that he just moved to return to the pasture he wanted them out of. But then he oh-so-very-patiently explained to me in his most gentle, most soft-spoken, sweetest voice that they had grazed the old pasture down and the grass was better in the new pasture. And of course any cowboy’s wife worth her weight in Wranglers would know that cows will stay in the pasture with the better grass. Hence, I hang my head in shame.
All the moving of cows here and yon happened on Saturday. On Monday, he noticed the same mama cow wandering aimlessly, with a tight bag (a sign that her baby had not nursed recently) through the grazed pasture looking for something she’d lost. And it wasn’t her ear tag she was looking for. She and her baby, unequipped with GPS, still had not found one another. It had been 2 days. A baby will typically return to the last place it nursed, and it’s mother will find it there. But this baby must’ve gotten a wild hair and ventured farther than the street lamp. J-Dub drove around the pasture, looking for the baby without any success. Needing to get on to other duties, he had no choice but to leave.
Today when he checked on the cows, the situation was the same. A mama with no baby. A baby with no mama. After 3 nights without the protection of its mother from the Big Bad Coyotes that roam freely, without the warmth and nourishment of its mother’s milk, the likelihood of the calf surviving was bleak.
But alas, I will not tell a tale without a happy ending. Not today anyway.
J-Dub decided he would get horseback and go to the far end of the pasture. He began bawling like a little baby calf. This was an act of trickery so the mother cow would think it was her baby bawling instead and follow. It worked. She followed J-Dub over to the far end of the pasture where lo and behold, a small miracle occurred and the baby calf was found alive. They were reunited and it felt so good.
The calf’s little belly is full, the mama’s bag is no longer engorged, the gate is closed and all is well.