Missouri ranch wife Brandi Shannon recounts a memorable calving experience she had to do solo and without a horse.
My husband, Drew, and I pretty much do everything together, but I vividly remember one time he went to a horse sale and I stayed home to check a heifer about to calve.
I went to check on her and her calf had two feet coming out. There was a cow that had already calved beside her, and the heifer was claiming the cow’s calf as her own and quit pushing. I called Drew and told him I was going to have to rope the heifer to separate her from the cow and calf, and pull her calf, and if I didn’t call back in a little bit he’d better come looking for me.
My daughter, Mesa, was around 2 ½ years old at the time and was sitting in the truck. I told her, “Sissy, I’m going to have to pull this calf and rope the heifer, and no matter what happens stay in the truck.”
I was planning to go to the sale so I didn’t have a horse and was going to have to rope her afoot. The cow that had already calved was mean and started charging at me, and the heifer wouldn’t leave the calf. I got the heifer headed down toward the creek, away from the cow and calf. She crossed the creek and wanted to come back, but I got her roped.
Since I didn’t have a horse, I was holding the rope and cranking it around my hips to try to hold her. She took off back toward the cow and calf, and I ran as fast as I could to keep up with her. As she ran past a hedge tree, I dallied the rope around the tree and tied off. I took my time and worked around to get behind her with the pulling chains. I got the chain on one foot, but as I went to secure it around the second foot the heifer took off down a hill and the chain slipped around my wrist.
Since I didn’t have a horse, I was holding the rope and cranking it around my hips to try to hold her. She took off back toward the cow and calf, and I ran as fast as I could to keep up with her.
My hand was now inside the rope that was attached to her and the calf. I ran as fast as I could to keep up. When she reached the end of the rope, she stopped and turned. I got the chain off my hand and around the calf’s second foot. As I started pulling the calf, the heifer let out a big bellow and all 60 to 70 head of the cattle in that pasture came running down the hill toward me. I finally got the calf out, and I couldn’t believe after all that the heifer started licking it and it lived.
Sometimes, as ranchers, we have to do whatever it takes to make sure that calf survives.
Read more about Brandi Shannon in the November 2019 issue of Western Horseman.