In the ranching industry, weather plays God and the seasons dictate our daily jobs.
Fall on the ranch is beautiful. Dense clouds give way to dazzling patches of sunlight. Mornings are cool, and the breath of the cattle creates an almost eerie fog that settles on dewey pastures.
The hustle of hay season has given way to Mother Nature’s pace of Calving Season. The first calf at Blasdel Ranch was born the last week in September. By now most of the babies have been born and the mothers are settling into their natural roles.
It’s hard to find a sweeter sight than a newborn calf’s first interactions with the world. With wobbly, noodle-like legs, she makes her first awkward steps. Unsure if she’s doing it right, she looks back to Mama, who bellows softly in approval. Step-step-step…tumble! Down she goes! She’s a little reluctant to try again, and Mama comes over, gives her a reassuring nudge and, voila! She’s up again, in search of a milkshake.
A few weeks ago, Aunt Marita and I were driving the Polaris (picture an off -road golf cart) and checking on the new calves. We saw a cow who had clearly just given birth, but there was no calf in sight. We drove around a little more, and finally we heard the tiniest, squeakiest little moooo somewhere in the distance. We discovered that the babe had somehow gotten through the fence and into the wrong pasture. He was still slimy with afterbirth, but was snarled in a patch of thorns.
Quite possibly for the first time ever, my maternal instincts kicked in. Like, CA-POW! Nina Blasdel, Calf Saver! Overcome by adrenaline and estrogen, I left my inhibitions in the Polaris and leapt into the thorns and retrieved the him. (Okay, it probably wasn’t that exciting to watch, but it sure felt exciting to me!)
About halfway to the fence, it dawned on me that calves are seriously HEAVY, so together Marita and I carried him back to his mama. In a few minutes, they were happily reunited and the little guy was nursing.
Feeling triumphant, we went back to the house for a celebratory glass of Rosé. We clinked our glasses and cheers’d our little adventure. Wooh! (Or, more appropriately, Mooo!)