Dear TLC Producers,
I’d like to pitch a story idea, but first I need to give you some background on the situation…
We have a small group of cattle that we brought over to the pastures near our house this summer. This small group was held back and not sent to other areas in Kansas or Oklahoma where the rest of the cattle are pastured.
The group near our house consists of a few cows from a group that Adam’s dad had purchased out of Missouri a while back. These were the cows that had either lost a calf this winter or just didn’t calve.
The group also consists of some heifers–female cows that have never calved. They were brought home last fall after being pastured in southern Kansas. They were the heifers that Adam and I fed during the Blizzards of Oz this past winter.
Side note: If the heat is really getting to you, I recommend that you just click here to remember why this past winter had everyone grumbling too.
Anyway, these were the heifers that Adam and his dad let me pick out to keep and breed so they can calve next year.
Aside from all of these females, we also have a bull running around with this group. His sole purpose in life during the summer months is to get all of these females bred.
The gestation period for a cow is approximately 280-285 days, but the majority of gestation tables for beef cattle are for 283 days –in other words 9.5 months.
Since the bull was introduced to the group in May, the goal is to have everyone calve in February, March and April. But that’s only if the females cycle and the bull can get the “job” done.
It’s no secret that this summer has been super HOT. It’s been so hot for so long that a lot of ponds and creeks in our area are drying up. Our ponds and creeks aren’t any different–they’re drying up, too. In fact, the pond that Adam proposed to me at just last year has pretty much disappeared.
Last year it was full of refreshingly clear, cool, life-giving water. This year it’s become a mud hole.
We have additional water that we provide to the cattle to guarantee that they stay hydrated; because if they don’t get water during these hot days things could turn bad. Fatally bad.
One of my jobs this summer has been to check the group of cattle–that are hopefully getting bred– that are in the pastures near our house.
When I first started checking on them, it took me forever to ride around on the four-wheeler to even find them. In actuality, the majority of the time I’d have to get off the four-wheeler and sneak through the brush and trees to track them down. It was like I was on a safari!
In an Australian accent…
I’m Kim Baldwin. Join me on our next exciting adventure as we trapse through the thorn bushes and use fresh hoof prints and cow patties to find the ever elusive beef cow. CRIKEY!!
When I would finally find them, a handful of them would freak out and take off running–away from me!!
I was highly offended.
In these early days of checking the cows–and inciting small stampedes–and raising the potential for heat stroke– I came across a major surprise that I mentioned in a blog last month: A little red bull calf hiding out in the trees!!
I immediately wondered where his momma was 283 days before (see gestation table above). This little guy was quite the surprise because our calving season is in the WINTER and NOT in the summer.
Anyway, after discovering the little bull calf hiding in the trees, my job of checking cattle now included keeping my eyes open for him to make sure he’s healthy, too.
I’ve found that it’s easier to check on them when you don’t have to hunt them down on more than 100 acres of pastureland and wooded areas–it’s just too dang hot to get all riled up right now.
I’ve found that the easiest way to NOT have to track them down is to have THEM come to ME instead. Soooo…open up your psychology books for just a moment and I’ll share with you my secret. Ready??
I’ve essentially been classically conditioning these cattle to come to me when they hear me call them–and I reward them by giving them some range cubes. Anyone ever heard of Pavlov’s Theory??
We’ve gotten to the point in the conditioning now that if they hear the Kawasaki Mule or any other motor that is similar to that of an ATV or UTV, they a come a runnin’!
Apparently cattle like range cubes. They really, really, really like range cubes.
So now that they come to me it’s a lot easier to check them. Aside from checking to make sure nobody has any broken bones, or pink eyes, or missing limbs, I also count them.
When one or two don’t show up–given their reaction to the promise of range cubes–I start looking thinking the worst case scenarios possible.
And that’s exactly what happened two weeks ago. The little red bull calf was missing, so I started my search thinking the worst case possible.
I didn’t want to find the remains of a little red bull calf that the coyotes had gotten to.
I didn’t want to find the remains of a little red bull calf that had broken his leg.
I didn’t want to find the remains of a little red bull calf that had gotten stuck in a mudhole.
I didn’t want to find…ok, stop it or you’ll raise your blood pressure!
And when I finally did find the little red bull calf, I could not believe my eyes.
It was just unbelievable what had happened.
I was NOT expecting this sight.
I had to call Adam and Dwight–who didn’t believe me when I was describing what I saw.
I ended up texting both of them a picture just to show them what I had found.
Two little red calves–in July!! How crazy is that??
I again immediately thought, “Where was your momma 283 days ago??” And was she from Missouri or was she in a pasture in southern Kansas?
The newbie is a little red heifer and these two calves stick together like glue. If you see one, you see the other.
So now I have another bovine to keep on the look-out for when I go out into the pastures to check cattle.
But wait…there’s more to this story!
Do you see that red heifer winking at the camera? She spent her youth in pastures in southern Kansas last year until we brought her and her buddies home to feed this past winter.
None of the other heifers–or cows–or bulls have been given names by me. But this heifer has earned the nickname of Bob Tail because, well, she has a bobbed tail.
This heifer was picked out to keep and breed this summer so she can calve 283 days later…in the winter.
Do you know what I found when she didn’t show up earlier this week when the range cube addictions were being fed and I had to go track her down???
A heifer with a bag full of milk. And can you guess what that means???
That’s right, a new calf–in July!! Where was your momma 283 days ago?!?!
So apparently I’m contacting you, the producers of TLC’s I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, because I’d like to pitch this story idea your way. I find your show a bit disturbing. I mean, how could you not know you were pregnant? But after the summer we’re having, I’m beginning to understand.
Kim, The Bovine Babysitter
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