Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dirt Wranglers

Ranching is always an adventure.
Sometimes a tad . . .  uncomfortable.
But always entertaining.
Orphaned calves are cared for in one of several ways on a ranch.
Bottle feeding is always an option.
But the best solution usually involves adopting the little baby onto another mother.
Okay, it sounds good.
But convincing the mother to take on another cow’s calf is tricky.
She is seldom . . . okay, never . . . willing to cooperate.
If she has lost her calf (and I know this sounds icky) the rancher can skin the dead calf and tie the hide onto the living one. The cow smells her calf and the adoption is complete.
But when she still has a calf living, the process is a bit more difficult.
The solution usually involves buckling the two calves together at the neck and turning them in with the cow.
The cow quickly discovers that she can’t kick the strange calf off without also losing her own.
A bovine conundrum.
Eventually solved by allowing both calves to suck.
The only concern thereafter is making sure one periodically loosens the collars as the calves grow.
And that’s where my story starts.
Finally . . .
Several of the cow hands on the Stringam ranch were checking the herd.
They noticed that a pair of coupled calves’ collars were getting a bit snug.
Someone needed to chase the intrepid pair down and perform the necessary loosening procedure.
One volunteered.
By spurring his horse.
Now, this was a man who was accustomed to working with cattle.
He had chased down calves before.
But he didn’t realize in this case that the yoked calves couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t-want-to run together.
Instead, they began to run in at least two different directions.
Forward progression was . . . limited.
The cowboy, used to gauging his movements by normal calf movements launched himself off of his running horse.
Flew straight over the heads of the struggling calves.
And chewed up about 10 feet of dirt.
His friends stared at him.
Then, sympathetic to the end, burst out laughing.
The would-be wrangler spit out a mouthful of dirt and, face scraped, bleeding and dirty, joined in the general laugh at himself.
The calves were duly caught. Their collars loosened. And everyone headed home.
Bruised.
But happy.
Yep. Ranching. An adventure.
You get the picture . . .


22 comments:

  1. I learn the most interesting things reading your blog. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you read it, Lana! And even more glad you find it interesting!!! :)

      Delete
  2. "...began to run in at least two different directions..."

    Hilarious! (... as long as you're not the one trying to catch them!)

    I'm with Lana about learning so many interesting things from you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And all without having one bruise and without eating a single grain of prairie dust! :)

      Delete
  3. Yet more reasons why I'm now a city girl! Love this post. I can ranch vicariously!

    ReplyDelete
  4. A lot of guys working on the ranch were wannabe rodeo stars and they couldn't wait to show their talents(?). Trouble was: a lot of them weren't all that eager to swallow their pride after incidents like that.

    As far as teaming calves up to allow the orphan to suck was concerned, I remember #26, a bull calf who lost his mother shortly after we put the herd into the summer pasture. The loss of his mother didn't sway him one bit; he just slid in beside another calf and got down to business. At weining time, he wasn't a bit undernourished.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The closest I've ever come to a ranch was going to a Dude Ranch for my sister's wedding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can get down and dirty vicariously here! :)

      Delete
  6. Oh yes always an adventure indeed. The laughing does get us through though right:) B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sometimes, laughter is all we have! :)

      Delete
  7. I had never heard of this before! I learn something new everyday around here! I love it, I always get my husband with these little tidbits, he thinks I'm a genius. Thanks for always making me look good!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Heehee! I've never contributed to a genius before! My day is made!

      Delete
  8. I had no idea you had to do this with calves......sad and yet kind of "the whole circle of life" ish kind of thing. And very funny about the "flying off his horse" cowboy. I'll bet they all laughed and laughed at his ride through the air. I sure am learning a lot from your stories!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A ranch is a certainly microcosm of nature. Up close and personal. I'm so glad you come to visit!

      Delete
  9. Laughing at the rancher chewing up ten feet of dirt.
    Interesting way to get another calf fed, I've never heard of calves being collared together, although I've heard of putting the skin of a dead calf onto an orphan. The same is done with sheep.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never worked with sheep. Sounds like they are as particular about the adoption process as cows . . .

      Delete
  10. Now that would have been funny to watch...and no calves were caught in the process!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Makes you wonder which species is the smartest . . .

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