Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A heifer in the basement

Weaning is a stressful time. It is also an excellent time to locate, tear out, and immediately rebuild the weakest part of your corral some years. Freshly weaned calves are experts at the locating and tearing out part, and a stressed, mad rancher can really replace torn down corral fast.
The above photo is the result of one such experience a couple years ago. Weaned calves can be spooky, and just about anything can set off the right bunch. One morning we woke up to the sound of peaceful quiet, which is never a good thing on the second day of weaning, and also probably why we were all actually sleeping well.
The corral was empty. This is a rancher's worst weaning nightmare. If calves don't know where their mothers are, they will just poof in every direction like a dropped bag of flour. Locating, gathering, and temporarily securing them until you rebuild the corral can be a lengthy and frustrating process. It can take months to find them all in some instances.
But, not this time. Our calves had gone half a mile, settled down, and were eating. We easily gathered them up, locked them up, fixed the corral, and considered ourselves lucky to only be short one head. I spent the next two days searching high and low, near and far, for the missing one. I eventually assumed she had met up with a neighbor's cows, and we would eventually get a call to retrieve her.
Then I saw what you see above while putting garbage in our burn barrel, and immediately took a picture so everyone would believe me when I informed them of where the missing one had been hiding for almost three days.
This old basement is just a junk collector, as you can see (with the exception of the heifer of course). How she fell in there is beyond me, and how to get her out was also beyond me at the time. She was not happy, to say the least, about her predicament. I pondered, thought, weighed options, and eventually gathered up what I thought I needed to assist her in jumping out of the lowest part of the wall, which is in the top left hand corner of the photo.
I loaded a 4-wheeler trailer of railroad tie chunks and cinder blocks and dumped a few into the basement to begin constructing a temporary set of steps. The heifer began lapping the basement, and I stepped over to the opposite side, just in case she managed to jump out. To my surprise, she lined herself out and leaped out of the basement with ease. After three days of searching, some heavy lifting and mental planning, that's all it took to get her out and back with her buddies. She was shrunk out, hungry and thirsty, but otherwise none the worse for wear as a result of her stay in the basement.
When I came across this picture again today, I thought it was fitting to share with you on day two of weaning our first bunch this year.


  1. Weaned calves have ways of surprising you quite often.

    Glad she was found, and was alive. ;)

  2. this reminds me of the time i stayed the night at your house and saturday morning we rode horses to go look for the stray cows that walked off. and how we had to walk down that "HUGE" canyon and my horse got spooked and ran right back up it. and how i about died of fright. and how we went home after that :) i'm still scared of horses :) then again i was before that day. funny funny.