I think most people have a favorite “Aggie” joke. In Oklahoma, my father was poking fun at his alma mater, Oklahoma State University, formerly Oklahoma A & M, when he told an Aggie joke. Here in Texas we are usually thinking about Texas A & M when we tell an Aggie joke. If you are out of the country or unfamiliar with Aggie jokes, they are usually told to make the Aggie look ignorant as in the following example: Why was the Aggie housewife mad at her husband?
He was out shooting craps and she didn’t know how to cook them.
I never thought these jokes were particularly funny, but yesterday a few of them flashed back through my mind during a ranch episode. Here’s the question: How many ranchers does it take to feed a new born calf?
We were out bottle feeding a new born calf. He was a big strong fellow, but his mother hadn’t yet come into her milk. We thawed some colostrum previously saved from a mom with a still born, put it in a calf-sized bottle and set off for the pasture. Luckily, we picked our foreman up at the barn prior to heading to the pastures. Yes, we wondered how many ranchers it would take to feed that newborn. When we started the feeding, the answer became obvious. The foreman straddled the calf to keep him in one place, no simple job since the bull weighed a good 70 + pounds. I poked the bottle in and the bull drank his fluid while the third party, my husband, carrying a big stick kept the momma cow from killing us. The latter was the most difficult. You just haven’t felt fear until you’ve heard a great big momma cow who just delivered a calf bellow at you and start in your direction with her head down. They don’t just stand in one spot to do this; they circle you creating a smaller and smaller distance from you with each round. As if this wasn’t dangerous enough, another new momma cow thought we were too close to her calf and decided to help out. Now there were two people feeding the newborn, one person keeping the cows away and two cows wanting to flatten the people. Meanwhile, the little calf was taking his sweet time downing the bottle. Once he finally finished, we all backed away, keeping a close eye on both angry mothers. Of course, the silly newborn followed me because I had been his only source of nourishment. This didn’t help his mother like me any better.
So, back to the original question; How many ranchers does it take to feed a newborn? From the reading, you would most likely answer “three”; From my experience, I think FOUR would have been safer!
Aside from this experience, when the three of us went back to the pasture for the second feeding, the buzzards were swarming near the fence and a different cow was going crazy. That’s when we saw her just born calf on the opposite side of the fence from her. When a cow is calving, she may back up to something, thinking this will help with the delivery (if a cow really thinks). We’ve found many calves that were delivered outside the fence from their mothers. We picked up the calf and tagged his ears for identification. This, of course, caused him to holler as though we’d shot him and I thought him mom would come right through the fence. Eventually, we pushed him through to her side and all was well. She quickly herded him away from the terrible people. We were certainly glad that we made that second trip to the pasture and saved this little heifer.
I’m hoping that no Aggie jokes are needed today and that all will be well out in the pasture. Yet, with another seven calves due at the same time, you just never know.