What's the perfect gift on your birthday? It's a trip to the spa, of course.
Curl up in a nice blue robe. Get toasty in the sauna. Have the friendly staff bring you a warm drink. Now that is service.
And after you've been pampered for a bit, it's always great to have a reunion with your family.
We had more birthdays than a Chuck E. Cheese pizza joint around here yesterday. Four baby calves entered this world on a cold, snowy February day on the County Line.
It was a day not fit for man or beast, as the old saying goes. But contrary to what the animal activists would have you believe, we spent the majority of the day out in the elements, caring for the animals that have been entrusted to us.
And, yes, one of the babies got a birthday spa treatment. Twice.
Jake found him during one of the frequent checks at the pasture south of our house. Randy and I headed out, armed with an old blue blanket and a warm pickup.
Mothers are mothers, whether they are human or bovine. The mama wasn't sure about interlopers approaching her newborn baby, so Randy approached warily, taking it slow.
The mama was reluctant. Mamas are supposed to know best, but it's a little tough to have a logical conversation with a nervous cow. It's better to have quick feet.
But Randy picked up the 70-pound (or so) baby and headed for warmer climes.
The baby was like an icicle when he first nestled down on the pickup floorboards.
After awhile, some of the ice and snow began to melt.
We mixed a little bit of milk replacer with warm water and put it in a bottle.
Drinking a little bit of warm milk helped speed the process.
After a short stay at the "spa," Randy provided ground "transportation."
He deposited the baby in some hay.
And the mama and baby are reunited. It's always rough returning to reality after a "vacation." It's especially tough when you leave the warm climate of a resort and return to the harsh realities of a snowy, Midwest winter. (Just ask our daughter and son-in-law, Jill and Eric, who came back to Nebraska after a Mexican vacation last week.)
Repeat as necessary.
In this case, it was necessary yet again for this same calf. Same song, second verse. Randy picked up the calf again, put it in the pickup again, ran the heater on high and gave it a little more milk before again returning it to its anxious mom. There's not a barn or shed close enough for that pair, but the trees provide some windbreak and the guys put out fresh hay for them to lay on. You just have to do what you can and hope for the best.
My usually optimistic husband wasn't so optimistic about the baby's survival last night. I dreaded reporting that the baby had died. But the baby survived the night. During Randy's morning visit to the pasture, the little calf was up and nursing. Success!
Randy doesn't need to visit a gym to get his weight training in. That calf wasn't the only one he moved yesterday.
This one was a Popsicle, too.
So he picked it up ...
and carried it 50 yards ...
to a shed at the creek.
When we went back later, the baby had nursed and the two were content to be out of the snow and wind.
Mission accomplished - times 4.
This story wasn't an exclusive to the County Line yesterday. Beef producers all across the state were out there, fighting the fight against the elements to make sure their animals were well fed and cared for.
There are people out there who want to do away with animal agriculture. Just last week, Oprah featured a vegan author on her show and urged the 378-member Harpo staff to go vegan for a week. Several ag blogs written by ranchers have said they would welcome a visit from Oprah and her staff, a chance for them to see what really happens on family farms and ranches across the nation. Just one of them was Haley Farms in Ohio; lots of others have chimed in with similar invitations.
So, if Oprah wants to come to the County Line and spend the day on a working farm, she'd better bring her boots and some warm gloves. It's cold out there.