Calves are leaving and men are relieving

Today is a big day on this South Dakota farm. A day aΒ  man focuses on, sets his eyes on, when nothing seems to be running right; when shins are bruised from working angry cows, nights are ruined when fighting bulls escape, and curses erupt when a neighbor isn’t paying attention as cattle sneak out behind him.

A day when all the work of feeding daily rations, fixing fences and tractors, staring down mommas as they tagged their baby’s ears (running around the four-wheeler to put a barrier between you and her, if necessary), and the joys of becoming unstuck in South Dakota winters is all worth it.

Yes friends, today is sale day. This housewife has wiped a sing tear from her eye as she prepares to see her mostly black and curious companions head of into the unknown market world.

As we speak, 280 calves are being loaded into semis, where we will meet for the last time at the local sale barn, once owned by Country Man’s uncle.

Dang. And I promised myself I wouldn’t dwell on their departing.

South Dakota calves

South Dakota calves

Mommas of the calves

South Dakota calves

Pretty calvies

It won’t be long before a new batch of babes call this yard home. A bawling mess they shall be; music to my ears, nonetheless.

Just another day in the agricultural life.

Well, another day plus a man’s yearly wages. That makes a difference. Sweet relief, we made it! There will be some celebrating happening around here.

Until we meet again (and according to the weather, with snow!) … Love to you all.

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35 thoughts on “Calves are leaving and men are relieving

      • The band-aid analogy, LOL! I know what you mean. The prospect of snow and cold again after this taste of spring is just cruel.
        Sounds like sale day is kind of like harvest for crop farmers, very important! Except we don’t get as attached to the rows of corn and beans, they’re not as cute as your cows! Glad it went well for you.

  1. My father-in-law used to raise beef cows many years ago. After a while he had to stop because he became too attached to them and didn’t want to send them to market. I think I would get attached to them as well.

    • He must have had a smaller load to become attached? One year, my FIL had five calves that needed bottle feeding. So I did it when I was able, and I could see how a person would become more attached with a smaller number. I had my mind set that the midget heifer would be my favorite, but she had some fire in her belly and had only attitude with me. It turned out the biggest calf, Willy, was the most easy-going and tame.

    • Your comment reminds me of looking at old video recordings husband’s grandpa took 20 years back. Most of the footage were of cows in the field (although the tape was labeled “birthday party”), and I thought about how the cattle are long gone, and the cycle and life continues on through two more generations.

  2. I can see why those little guys would be tough to part with! How many calves did you have this year? Do you ever decide to keep one or two? What do the other animals on the farm, like the dog or any cats you might have, think about the calves and cows?

    • We sold about 280 calves this year, I believe. The new spring babies are coming in as we speak, so there is enough to do with those and the ones that didn’t take to their mommas. So between the bottle-feeding and tagging, none of the bigger calves are kept around (it’s extra work to have to feed one or two on there own). The dogs and Kitty walk up to the calves, and the calves walk up to them, but the fence serves as a barrier.

      One night after dark, we were on our way home, and in the cattle yard we could see these two yellow eyes among the calves. Turns out it was Kitty, probably hunting for some mice in the field. The calves couldn’t see her until we shone the headlights on her, in which they started walking toward her (they would chase a cat or pups out). She skedaddled out toward the house.

  3. Wisconsin must be just a tad ahead of SD. We’re seeing lot’s of new calves at our farmer neighbors and another farmer we know is right in the middle of lambing season. I really enjoy your blog, BTW. Stumbled into it a couple of weeks ago when you left a comment on a post featured on “Freshly Pressed.”

    • Thank you! I just checked out you post on gardening and baby raccoons. Have you ever had a pet coon before? They are sweet things until they get older, in which they turn into ornery little things. πŸ™‚

      Regarding calving/lambing, each farmer/rancher has a different approach to when they do it. Some have been calving for a while, and plan to sell them soon, while others, like my father-in-law, calve later as to not deal with SD cold temps. Then he feeds them after they are weaned (usually October) until it’s time to sell in April.

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