Adventures in the Calving Lot
- April 6, 2023
- Jan Swan Wood
It was early spring and calving was just starting. I don’t remember if there had been any calves yet, but I was going out and walking through the cows in the grass trap in the night to check. I’ve always wintered the bulls with the cows once the heifer calves are weaned, so there were bulls mixed in with the springers. They’d get sorted out soon after the cows started dropping calves and before any cows started cycling back. It was an easy way to feed everything and kept the bulls in good shape running out on pasture all winter and working for a living like the cows. I had an Angus bull that was probably five years old or so. He was full grown, to say the least. He was a nice bull to handle and be around, and an all around popular guy due to calving ease and heavy weaning weights. My little son had named him Big Jerry, with emphasis on the big.
My cow check was nearly completed at the far end of the grass lot when my flashlight started flickering. I managed to finish my check before it went plumb dead. I was working my way back over the bumpy ground and weaving my way amongst the cows who were laying down and chewing their cuds. I could see very little due to only a sliver of moon. The cattle were all black Angus, so didn’t exactly glow in the dark. I could hear the cows, uncomfortable at being so heavy with calf as they would grunt and shift
around a little as I came near. I walked around them by sound.
I thought I was clear of the cows so had picked up my pace a little bit. Suddenly, I came up abruptly against a large object, and before my momentum slowed, I lost my balance and fell over it. I was fairly helpless with my bottom half on one side and my top half on the other and my posterior in the air. It shifted under me but didn’t get up. I slid ahead and my hands found the ground and I wallered off of my victim and onto my hands and knees. My hand came upon the dropped flashlight in the total darkness so I picked it up. It flickered on briefly. In the meager light, I found myself face to face with Big Jerry who was looking at me with surprise, his cud chewing on pause. The light went off again and I climbed to my feet. Big Jerry never even got up.
My heart was going pretty hard, as he was so big at the very least he could have stood up and stepped on me. But he hadn’t. He hadn’t even grunted when I so rudely fell over him and landed at his feet. I was always thankful for his good nature, but especially so the night that I “technically” rode a bull, though very briefly, in the dark.
About Jan Swan Wood
Jan was raised on a ranch in far western South Dakota. She grew up horseback working all descriptions of cattle, plus sheep and horses. After leaving home she pursued a post-graduate study of cowboying and dayworking in Nebraska, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota....