This week we’re directing you over to RealRancher Ondi Shepperson’s blog to read her two latest posts. Ondi has a unique style and captures some great ranching moments and we’re honored she let’s us share her posts!

Good Mama Blues

Ondi Shepperson's blog post "The Good Mama Blues" at http://olshepp.wordpress.com/

Cowboy Entertainment

Ondi Shepperson's blog post "Cowboy Entertainment" at http://olshepp.wordpress.com/

On an unrelated note, if you’re ever in Ondi’s neck of the woods you have to stop at the Meeteetse Chocolatier. It’s the law.

From RealRancher Ondi Shepperson – Meeteetse, Wyo.

Two tiny babes arrived last week.  Their mother, like all mothers, immediately protective.  Nervously nuzzling first one and then the other.  Squatting to let them nurse.  Instinctively knowing what to do.

RealRancher Carla Crofts shares the sadness a mother ewe feels when she loses one of her baby lambs.

One baby is a little larger and very healthy.   He is already trying to buck and play.

The second is small and fragile.  She struggles to find the nipple when nursing, tires after suckling just a few seconds. The second day it is obvious she is not doing well.  Her mother continually nuzzles her, talks to her.  These are her first babies and she is overwhelmed.  One wants to play and explore this new world, the other is lying quietly-barely moving. If she makes it through the night she has a chance.

Day three brings renewed hope, she has been able to eat enough to fill her tummy.

Wait.  She is not feeling well – she stretches to ease the pain in her tiny stomach.  Can we give her anything to help?  It is a slim chance, but all we can do.  And then it is over.  This tiny life has ended.

The next day we leave the mother and her surviving baby in the same barn so she will figure out the second baby is gone.  That evening we put her with the other ewes and lambs.  In the morning we let them out to graze.  All day we can hear the mother calling for her babe – not the one nursing, the one that has died.  Her pain is evident in her plaintive cry.  When we let them in for the night she runs back to where she last saw her baby.  Her head hangs in grief.

I don’t think there is a way to measure a mother’s grief – no matter if we are two legged or four legged.

From RealRancher Carla Crofts – Sweetwater, Wyo.

When we have a cow that won’t or can’t take care of her calf we often consider adoption.  If we already have a good mother cow that has just lost her calf, we make maternal magic happen! We have to be quick, though, because there is only a 1-3 day window when the cow would most likely take another baby.

In bovine adoption, there isn’t any paperwork to fill out, but there is a pretty, shall we say, interesting adoption process.

First we put the mother cow in the barn with her dead calf. We give her a little time to lick and bond with her lost baby before turning her back out in the corral.

Now this part is a little tough, but it’s the only way to really make sure the orphaned calf can be adopted. We carefully remove the hide of the dead calf, making sure to leave the tail and the bottom area intact because that is where the mother smells to make sure she has the right baby. Four lengthwise slits are made at the edge of the hide for the orphaned calf’s legs.

For the adoption process to move forward, we position the hide over the new calf and pull its legs through the slits. Baling twine is threaded through the leg holes and tied under the calf’s neck and belly to secure its new coat.

Now it’s time for the moment of truth! We put the mama cow in the barn where her dead calf was and show her the adoptee with its new coat. Most of the time the mama cow will give an affectionate little moo and we know she has accepted the calf as hers.

Now the calf may be reluctant at first and we, as the adoption experts, might need to get him up or nudge him in the cow’s direction from time to time. But hunger will always force him to accept his new mom. The adoption coat can be removed in a couple of days once the mama cow and calf are throughouly bonded.

The best part of this whole scenario is watching how carefully the cow looks after her newly revived calf. She’s going to make extra sure nothing happens to it this time.

From RealRancher, DeeAnn B. Price – Boulder, Wyo.

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