The First Calf of 2015

Every now and then somebody claims that they’ve been doing something since the day they were born. The skeptic in me hardly ever believes them, but this photo reminds me that it can, in fact, be true.

Just a baby helping the babies. In true Jessie form, I probably asked if they could sleep in bed with me.

Just a baby helping the babies. In true Jessie form, I probably asked if they could sleep in bed with me.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve been helping with calving season for a while now. The picture above is circa 1992, during a cold winter’s night when our only option to keep these babies alive was to bring them in the house and dry them off with a blow dryer. Twenty three years later, not a whole lot has changed. I’m still not allowed to throw a working blow dryer away, although now we have a special heated room in our barn where we can house babies overnight when needed.

I don’t care if it’s black, red, or pink with purple stripes; there is absolutely nothing cuter than the first calf of the season. I’ve been not-so-patiently waiting for a 2015 calf to arrive, and FINALLY, my wish was granted.


Franklin’s first steps were a bit wobbly, to say the least. But he got the hang of things pretty quickly.

While we were feeding on Saturday, my husband noticed that one of his heifers was off in the trees by herself. He walked over to check on her, and new immediately that something wasn’t right. During birth, a calf’s front feet are supposed to come first; therefore, the bottoms of the feet point down. This bottoms of this baby’s feet were pointing up, so we knew he was coming backwards. Just like in humans, babies who try to come out breech need a little extra help.

FranklinHeadShotKnowing we didn’t have a ton of time to spare, we hurried back to the house. Justin jumped on the 4-wheeler, while I stayed back and got all of the gates ready so she could sail right into our calving pen. Most of the time it’s a bit of a struggle to get a calving bovine headed in the direction you want them (which is understandable…she’s in the midst of having a baby!), but this heifer couldn’t have done better. Once we got her in the pen and got all of our birthing tools ready, we started the “pulling” process. Cattle do have C-sections, but in this specific case that wasn’t the best option. Instead, we helped the Mom give birth by gently pulling her calf out. The process usually goes very quickly, is least invasive, and leaves a Mom with very little, if any, downtime afterwards.

When it was all said and done, this little bull calf was born about 5 whole minutes after we started. We usually give Mom and Baby about 30 minutes to themselves before going back to check on them; that way they have ample time to bond and the cow can really dry him off without being disrupted.

While were we sneakily waiting for our baby to try to stand, Justin jokingly said, “Welp, it looks like Little Franklin is down again.” I’m not overly sure how he came up with Franklin, but it stuck.

Since Saturday, Franklin and his Mom have been staying in the “maternity ward,” basking in fresh straw, and soaking up all of the available sunshine. Today, they’ll get moved out to the “calf pasture” and will shortly be joined by other cow-calf pairs once others start calving.

Franklin and his Mom have been loving all the extra attention they've been getting in the maternity ward.

Franklin and his Mom have been loving all the extra attention they’ve been getting in the maternity ward.

We’re excited to have Calving Season 2015 is off to a great start!

– J

Jessie has returned to her roots on her family’s commercial cattle ranch in southern Idaho after time away at college and working on behalf of the state’s cattle producers. She’s passionate about agriculture and the western way of life. When she isn’t doing ranch work or writing, Jessie enjoys baking, golfing and drinking coffee. As a newlywed, she’s also turning a little cabin on the ranch into a home.

Categories: Blogging, Cattle, Idaho Cattlewomen, Ranch Life