Inclement weather a challenge for ranchers

It’s a cruel, cruel world when you’re (out) on your own.

It’s a cruel, cruel world when you’re (out) on your own.

Aside from the bracketed (out) those are chorus-line words from the song: Cruel, Cruel World by Prozzak (2006). They are somewhat descriptive of the situation of calves born out on Cariboo rangeland this past week as conditions wrought by inclement spring weather were overly harsh and most days of this past week, were poor days to be born.

Any calf who dropped from a cozy-womb onto the frozen, snow-covered ground in the rain, sleet and heavy snowstorm (last Saturday) very likely felt like heading back inside; the same thought crossing the minds of the cowboys and ranchers who braved the same lousy outdoor conditions as they checked the calve’y-cows, the night-born calves, fed the herd and (possibly) assisted in a birth or rescued a freezing cold calf.

The most a calf enduring such a rude arrival can hope for is to have a good mother to lick it clean/dry — one with a good supply of milk (vital colostrums) for that all-important first-suck. Added bonuses would be dry bedding and shelter from the cold wind, but bedding (in the Cariboo) is rare for range-calving (too costly) and mama’s broad body will likely have to suffice for a windbreak.

Some cows may require human help (quirk prevents natural birth) so the cowboy has to shuck his warm clothes (wool sweater, vest, heavy coat), roll up his shirt-sleeve, don an elbow-length plastic glove before reaching inside the cow to sort out the problem. He does all that while hunkered with the labouring cow out on the cold prairie — miles from any washing up facilities (warm building).

Some days, everything that can go wrong, does; making one wonder if a bit of Prozzak might help make it better (Prosac/often prescribed for panic disorder), but, instead we keep calm and carry on.

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