a story of Southern agriculture

As the Pasture Turns – a fall calving season drama…

Summer has turned to full autumn here in the South.  The leaves are changing color and falling in beautiful patterns on the green pastures.  It’s a delightful time of crisp mornings, warmer days and new babies on our beef cattle farm.

In the South cattlemen can structure their cattle operations around two calving seasons if they wish to.  In cooler regions of the U.S., the weather limits the cattlemen to spring calving only and therefore only one payday per year.  The milder winters and longer growing seasons of the South afford its cattlemen the luxury of two paydays per year.  The farmer simply schedules the nine months of bovine gestation to culminate around March and October for different cows.  This timing creates the spring calving herd and the fall calving herd.

Some things around here are real technical – naming things, not so much. ;o)

We have two calving seasons on our farm.  Each spring and fall we await with great anticipation the appearance of the first new baby bovine of the season.  It’s a lot of extra fun and extra work to ensure the safe arrival and subsequent thriving of the calves.  We need to check the herd at least twice each day – in the morning once the sun is up and late afternoon before dark.

Sometimes, like last night, my husband drove a mile or more roundtrip on the back pasture to check on one cow and calf repeatedly, so that the coyotes didn’t eat the baby calf.

Scary, I know.  But they already ate one calf and mauled another one this week.  Then this mama calves right at dark and is testy with the Farmer…that’s a story for another day. 

For today, just know my Farmer checked on this cow at 10pm, 2am and 6am and ran the coyotes off.  I’ll give you more detail on this in a later post.  Suffice to say mama and baby are well this morning.

And when my good lookin’ Farmer gets up in the night to check on a baby a mile away, I may just melt into a puddle…okay, I admit to puddle status. ;o)

Over the next 6-8 weeks of calving season, I will highlight our calving season tasks and challenges and triumphs here.  Are you ready?

It’s a story of milk face…

beef calving season-1

…and mamas with clover on their chins and secrets hidden in the grasses.

beef calving season-2

It’s a tale of struggle against ruthless killers lurking in the night…

beef calving season-3

…and an anti-terrorism patrol with hooves to throw when the Farmer can’t be there with his rifle.

beef calving season-4

I hope you’ll join me over these next weeks and share our journey.  It is adorable and dire.  My nerves love and hate it.

Such is life anywhere.  I think you’ll relate to this journey more than you may realize.

Best,

Emily Grace

9 Responses to “As the Pasture Turns – a fall calving season drama…”

  1. katie

    Where was your donkey last night! I look forward to watching someone else’s calving season. It is usually my favorite season. However this year I found myself drifting off because I felt like every time I went there was a tragedy or no baby calves to talk baby talk to. “Oh sweet baby pink nose love lump.” Ever tried to pray your husband out of a bad calving situation? Or had horrible flashes of future personal birth when he whips out the calf-puller?

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    • Emily Grace

      Hey, it’s the first coyote attempt that has gotten through their line of defense in almost 3 years. The donkeys have a lot of ground to cover and only 28 hooves amongst them. 🙂 I’d have 32 hooves to throw if you’d let me have SW. 😉

      Anyhow, it’s a big pack of BIG coyotes. We are slowly picking them off. And we have moved all the new calves and their mamas up to the pasture by our house. It’s not impossible for the coyotes to come up here and attack calves, but I think it less likely, seeing how I might deal with them from my back deck with hot chocolate in one hand and fuzzy slippers propped up on the railing. hehehe

      When calving season has several depressingly low points, retreat is not a bad option. You’ve got to take care of yourself so you can take care of your family. If both of you are sitting on the front row watching powerlessly and carrying the same draining emotions each day, something’s going to break. I totally affirm baking something cinnamony, hot bubble baths, and affirming welcome home kisses at the end of the day. Calving season is not for the faint of heart – you know when to go home to encourage hearts not to faint. Well done.

      Yes, to both questions. 🙂 I think it would be abnormal not to pray or overlay your livestock experience with potential personal experiences – this is our real everyday life! It sounds like you’re present. Well done, again!

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