Starting from mid August until about mid November, our mother cows are calving. It is a busy time on the ranch, and we are out most mornings and evenings checking on the cows to make sure all the births are going well. We keep the first time mothers, or heifers, close to corrals just in case they need assistance, but for the most part our cows are able to calve on their own. Many times a cow in labor will go off and find a nice spot under a cool oak tree and calve quietly, without any help at all
Once the calves are born, they will be up, standing, nursing, and learning to walk within the first hour of life. Once the mother feels like her calf is strong enough, she will walk it out to show it off and to meet the other mothers and new calf friends. It is so much fun to be able to see these new calves smell and play with each other. After a few days we'll see them running and kicking their back feet up into the air. If a calf travels too far from its mother, the cow will be quick to call it back, and the calves are usually very good and coming at once and following their mother’s tail wherever she may lead.
Another one of my favorite sights is when one or two mothers watch 10-15 calves while the other mothers travel farther for better feed. The mothers take turns babysitting the calves like this. Sound familiar?
Calving season has been particularly fun this year because my own little ones are now old enough to understand what is going on and to come with me to check on all the new calves.
Photographs by Elizabeth Poett