Doctoring With Nylon – And Medicine

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

Checking and doctoring newly weaned calves is a necessary chore at any ranch that retains calves in the fall. I use the word “chore” loosely, because on crews like the one at the RO, where sickness is treated with injections of antibiotics, oral probiotic paste, and nylon, it’s a fairly fun chore that involves lots of roping.

Here’s the pen of calves that the guys have been checking for sickness. They’re all ready for the holidays with their festive ear tags.

That’s how you can tell a woman wrote this blog. Cowboys don’t think in those terms.

Weaner calves

Anyway. Jake (left) and my hubby Jim (right) survey the calves to locate a sick one to capture. They’re looking for calves with their heads hanging low, droopy ears, runny eyes and/or noses, coughs, loose manure, or a general listless appearance.

cowboys on horses

Once they find a calf that requires immediate medical attention, they work together to sort him out of the herd. This video shows how they get one headed and heeled, Step One in doctoring with nylon. Unintelligible commentary by our two-year-old daughter, Grace; cheering for two feet by yours truly.

Shown here on a different calf, Jim and Snoopy got ‘im necked while Jake and Two Chains picked up the heels. Then, Jake tied off his rope to his saddle horn and dismounted to set the head rope on the front feet for Jim while his sorrel horse held the rope tight.

setting the ropes

While Jake sets the rope, Jim rode forward to shorten his rope, giving him better control of the animal.

getting short on the rope

Next, each cowboy retrieved the proper medicine from the medicine bags tied behind their saddles and filled their syringes.

doctoring a calf

After administering the medicine, all that’s left to do is mark the side of the animal with chalk to show he’d been doctored and admire the view.

Well, I guess I was probably (hopefully – watch yourself, Jake!) the only one admiring this view.

PS: This is not the only picture I took of this scene.

PPS: I love my life.

doctoring calves

Once both cowboys were back on their horses with the medicine properly stowed away and their ropes neatly coiled, they were ready to release the beast. I mean, furry little farm animal.

cowboys on horses

There he goes, trotting back to the safety of his friends where there aren’t any big, tough cowboys on fast horses to rope them out of the herd and administer carefully dosed medicine to cure what ails them.

letting calf up

Then, they rebuild their loops and wade back into the fray to help heal another one of God’s creatures.

recoiling ropes

And that’s how two-man doctoring with a one-woman and one-small-child audience goes on the RO. The cowboys could run the sick ones through the chute conveniently located about 100 yards from the pen the calves were in, but then they would lose their cowboy cards. Besides, that chute knows about all it’s ever going to learn, and the big roan horse and the slightly smaller sorrel horse are advancing their educations with each calf Jake and Jim rope.

Posted in: Featured, Ranch Life

About Jolyn Young

Jolyn Young lives near Montello, NV with her cowboy husband and 3 small kids. For more, visit

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