South Dakota Calving Season is On!
For livestock producers, calving season comes packing a multitude of emotions. From the work aspect, it means checking on the cows regularly. When the weather turns sour, those checks may be more frequent, if not nonstop. On the warmer drier days, the chores can be a little more enjoyable. When your working with quiet cattle that are used to being around people and particular machinery, calving season can be one of the most satisfying parts of your year.
This past week, I had the opportunity to get out of Sioux Falls for a day. A road trip does a soul good. There were parts of the country where farmers had already been out in the field preparing the soil for another growing season. If I wasn't mistaken, I think I saw a couple of fields that had already been planted. (Hey, with today's Hybrids to each their own.) Most won't actually start planting until April 25th comes around.
Oh, but the baby calves have been coming since the first of the year. Many producers, like Jay Hojer (pronounced Hoyer) from rural Oldham, South Dakota have had a recent run of decent calving weather. And the babies are coming! Hojer said they've had anywhere from six to eight new arrivals per day for the past couple of days.
I mentioned my trip to Oldham this past week. After I threatened the trip on Facebook, people from around the area came up with suggestions of what I should do when I got there. From visiting the Green Thumb Commodities to a swing by the hairdresser shop, a stop at the bank, The Oldham Saloon, the local elevator for a bag of popcorn for lunch, Dave's 'junk' and more. But the one invitation that stood out, was the opportunity for me to get out and get a little manure on my boots and tag a calf.
We didn't sign a waiver or anything like that, but on the ride out to the calving yard in Hojer's Ranger, I was reminded and knew that things can go south in a hurry while tagging calves. For those of you who are not familiar with tagging, it's so the producers know what cow the calf belongs to, and in the case of multiple owners working together, who's calf it actually is. It's also a 'process' that helps producers around the world further warrant that 'one of the most dangerous jobs moniker.
So we loaded up and headed out. It turns out, I had never tagged a calf. I had ear notched, and 'faked it' at Dakotafest with Doc Barz and the Cattle Team during chute demonstrations but never actually did the deed.
Hojer showed me how and on the second try I was actually able to attach the tag. This particular calf had a momma that was a former 4-H project, so she was a sweetheart and easy to work with. Being the good mamma she was though, we still kept a close eye on her.
Here's a 'shout out' to our friends who have been out in the yard calving, pulling, feeding, and generally making sure their cows be comfortable and well-fed as they get ready to give birth. It can be quite a joyous yet sometimes difficult and emotional time for producers. But it's kind of like golf. One good day in the calving yard and later seeing the pairs out on green pasture make it feel like the best job in the world.
To our producers, thank you for dinner. Thank you for what you do and all of us here hope you have a happy, and SAFE calving season.
Thank you for sharing this story with your livestock-producing friends. That way they can chuckle a bit when they heard that JD had never tagged a calf. Thanks to Jay Hojer, Oldham, South Dakota, I can cross that off my 'bucket calf list.'
James J Hill House