Monday, September 23, 2013

A Bit Long in the Tooth

It's a good thing farm wives "of a certain age" are not assessed to the same standard as a few other females at the old homestead.

I would be in trouble.

Last week, we rounded up five old cows and took them to the sale at Pratt Livestock. Last fall, as the veterinarian and the guys ran the cow herd through the working chute for a pregnancy check and vaccines, they noted which of the cows were getting to be a bit "long in the tooth." Actually, they were a little "short in tooth," in that they may have lost the majority of their chompers.

Thankfully, I still have the majority of my teeth. But I unexpectedly had another tooth pulled two weeks ago. Besides being painful, it's a bit disconcerting to have yet another reminder of my advancing age and mouth maladies. (Yes, I know there are much worse things.)

I teased Randy that he should have probably reconsidered on the honeymoon, when I had a monster toothache one evening. I came home from our trip to Colorado and promptly had my first root canal. Unfortunately, I've lost count of how many I've had since. And this latest tooth extraction will eventually lead to my second implant. It's not cheap, people!

But I will have to say that the hole in my own mouth may have made me a tad more sympathetic for these grand old "ladies" who've served our farm well. After all, they've likely had eight or 10 baby calves. (They've got me beat for sure.) 

As the cows lose their teeth, it makes it harder for them to eat, which may affect both their health and the health of their babies, both before birth and after. 

Last fall as these "grand dames" went through the squeeze chute, Randy recorded their ear tag numbers on a sheet of paper. When they had their calves this winter, he added each of their calves' ear tag numbers to the list. As we took cows and calves to summer pasture, we separated these older cows and their offspring. They spent the summer in a pasture south of Jake's house.

Now, with their babies no longer needing their personal "milk machines," Randy weaned the calves early in the week. He kept the calves in one pen and their moms in a neighboring pen. Researchers have found that the calves have less stress when they can see their mamas through the weaning process. Less stress equates to fewer illnesses for the calves.
Last Thursday, we hauled the mamas to the sale barn. We weren't the only ones delivering cattle to the sale, and we had to wait our turn.
Randy pulled into the unloading area, and they shut the gate behind him.
The sale barn staff then opens the trailer and sends the cows down an alleyway.
They are then placed in a numbered pen until sale time.
Another worker records the number of animals we brought to the sale.
The five cows were sold at the Thursday sale, where they averaged 78 cents a pound or $943 a head. Their babies don't look much like infants anymore after a summer of milk on demand. They will join the rest of the herd as we move cow-calf pairs home from pasture within the next month or so.
And, despite the declining number of teeth in my mouth, my husband has decided to keep me.

(Please know that this was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. I can even do that through the hole in my teeth. Just kidding!)


  1. Great price on the grannys! Hubby is scheduled for a root canal next week! UGH!
    We have a few handfuls of grannys going to town this fall. When we sort cows for winter pasturing, we have a group that we call the "cane & crutches"! lol! They would be the thin cows, grannys anything that needs that little extra TLC!

    1. Yes, we were pleased with the price, too. I love the "cane and crutches" label! These cows still looked pretty good as far as not being super thin, etc., but Randy decided it was their time to go. Their calves look good, too. Job well done, ladies!

    2. And good luck to your hubby on his root canal! Been there, done that (multiple times)!!

  2. Here's a legal story about cows' teeth. A concrete plant put so much grit in the air that it coated all the grass and other feed in the nearby pasture, and the cows ground off their teeth as they ate. The farmer sued the plant, and things were going well for the cattle's owner until his attorney began to elicit testimony from him about the value of his cattle. The attorney was asking their current value...as you explained, not worth as much if they don't have teeth. The farmer was so proud of his fine herd that he missed the point, insisting on testifying how valuable they still were! The result, obviously was that the jury found that he hadn't really been damaged at all by the grit that ground off his cattle's teeth. I thought you might enjoy this story. The moral: trust your lawyer and don't think you are smarter than he is. The second moral: prepare your client better so he understands what is going on when he is asked for his testimony!