The Pleasures of Calving

The little calves always make calving fun and seem worthwhile no matter how tired you are or how disastrous the situation seems. When four heifers aborted in a week almost two months before calving time, it appeared to be a disaster. When the second calf was aborted, Vern came out and did an autopsy.  Vern laughed and said, “You did well. You got air in its lungs because the lung floated in the formaldehyde, but the calf had probably been dead in the cow for a couple of days the way the hair pulled off.”  The lab said the heifers were aborting from a mycotic infection which was caused by breathing in a fungus spore from the hay and the poison went through the heifer’s blood to the fetus.

The highlight of the disaster was Gertie.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of bum calf Gertie. An example of ranchers treating their livestock humanely...because they care.

She was only about 30 pounds when she was born, but full of life. The heifer didn’t like Gertie, so our employee, Brian, rubbed her off, gave her some milk and put her in the utility room wrapped in a blanket with the heater on. The house was her home for the next week or so. Gertie was so cute with her little ears and big brown circles around her eyes peering out from the blanket at you.

Bum calf Gertie stands in the utility room wearing a diaper to control the mess.
Gertie in the utility room wearing a diaper

Gertie was so weak she couldn’t stand the first day, but she would suck the bottle. Every two hours, she was hungry and she would let you know with a bawl it was feeding time. The next day, she was strong enough to stand while sucking the bottle, but she was shaking from exhaustion when she finished. Within three or four days, she wasn’t so exhausted and she would want to buck and play. The utility room’s linoleum floor was so slick she would fall down and do the splits. We put a bath mat that would not slip down for her to stand on while eating. She soon learned if she stayed on the blue rug she would not fall, so she jumped up and down in place for exercise.

Sommers Ranch employee Brian Esterholt gives bum calf Gertie a drink before going out to play.
Sommers Ranch employee Brian Esterholt gives bum calf Gertie a drink before going out to play.

It finally became warm enough during the day Gertie was taken to the insulted calving shed. She could then run and play for short bursts of time before she became exhausted. As she got stronger, she started going on little adventures.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of bum calf Gertie. Here she's sticking her head through the pole fence.

She could go through the poles on the fence and under the gates. She could get anywhere she wanted without any difficulty since she was so small. When you found her, all you had to do was call her name and she would follow you like a puppy dog.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of taking care of bum calf Gertie. She stayed in the house until she was strong enough to be outdoors.

Brian would carry her back to the house at night, and she would stay in the utility room. Finally, she was able to stay in the insulted calving shed at night, but then our Purebred Herefords started calving, and Gert had to come back in the house at night. She followed you to the house, walked up the steps and into the utility room.  She was glad to be back in her old home.  She ran around sniffing everything and then laid down on her blue rug. Within several days, she was running up and down the steps of the house with ease.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of caring for bum calf Gertie.

In three or four weeks, Henrietta the milk cow calved, so Gert had a mom. Henrietta had her own calf, Gert and another preemie on her. They all ran, played and had a good time together. When cleaning out the stall, you could let Gert go outside into the field because she would follow you back into the barn when you were ready.

The first morning we had snow after Gert had been out in the shed on her own, she made a big run and buck to go outside.  When she hit the snow, she stopped dead in her tracks, sucked back and sniffed the snow.  That was enough of that.  She went into the stall where a heifer’s calf was laying and tired to get him to play with her to no avail.  She then fought the post and bale of straw.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of bum calf Gertie. When she was big enough she went outside.

All the calves are happy, but Gert still loves to have you visit and scratch her. She is a people cow.

RealRancher Jonita Sommers tells the story of caring for bum calf Gertie. Here she is all grown up.
Gert grown up

From RealRancher Jonita Sommers – Pinedale, WY

4 thoughts on “The Pleasures of Calving

  1. Wonderfull ! Animals are smart blue rags are good. We have cows like you and we also have “people cows” . I like them as they calm the others and can be very useful when we for example load the heard to go to summer fields, Hedda is the name of ours. Best whishes from sweden

    1. It is so great to hear from someone from Sweden. You should write a story about your cows with pictures and have Liz put it on the site. I would love to hear more.

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