Bob has been waiting for this cow to calve for a week, checking her and her tribe of first-calf heifers in the evenings. I am impressed with the iPhone’s ability to capture a wide range of light, and if held still, its sharpness. He’s also captured the maternal instincts of this new mother #8118, a Hereford-Angus X cow, with her fresh Wagyu X calf – exactly what we’re looking for in replacement heifers.
On the horns of an infant moon,
the creek shrinks and pools
between sycamores and live oaks
as babies come to first-time mothers
bringing the bear tracks downcanyon
on the scent of spent placentas.
Black progeny of the river nymph –
white heifer driven madly by Hera’s
gadfly Oestrus to cross continents
and populate Asia – find maternity
perplexing at first. Yet, lick and nuzzle
the stumbling wet struggle to stand,
suckle and rest that enflames instinct
in all flesh. Worthy timeless worship,
no better mother ever than a cow.
“IO” is included in POEMS FROM DRY CREEK, Starhaven, 2008.
Followers of the blog and and Facebook friends may be bored with our photographs of cattle, but it’s the most exiting time of year for us and our crew as the weather changes. It’s essential that we keep our eyes on our coming two-year old heifers that are having their first Wagyu X calves by recording their tag numbers and any other information that will help inform us as to whether they’ll make the cow herd or not—and to a less anxious degree, our second-calf heifers as well.
The twin bull calves from cow #3054, a mature six year old cow, appear to be sired by our Black Granite bull from Tehama Angus Ranch, spitting images of him at this stage of their short lives. We think that she can raise them both.
Though not short of feed in the flat below Terminus Dam, we keep plenty of alfalfa hay in front of our replacement heifers this time of year. The old feed is mostly filler without much strength and we want our yearling heifers to continue growing and be in shape to cycle when we turn the Wagyu bulls out three months from now. Protein licks and balanced minerals are also available.
In addition to the yearling heifers on the flat are some first-calf heifers bred last year to Wagyu bulls. Close enough to keep an eye on, all this special attention, (I’m afraid we spoil them), will help with the health of these coming first-calf mothers. It’s what we do before our rainy season begins, that time of year when it might rain.
This photo was taken Monday, September 16th as the clouds rolled in, confirmation of our second weather change of August, based on a thirty-day cycle.
None of last month’s Wagyu preemies survived as the mystery lingers. This first Wagyu calf has arrived on time.
Imagine how surprised Robbin and I were when we got a phone call from Mike Rivas yesterday informing us that a heifer we raised was judged as the champion in the Commercial Bred Heifer Division. Frankly, we had forgotten all about her, one of two we sold last year after they were weaned to be entered in this year’s fair competition as bred heifers.
“Buttercup” didn’t make our cut for replacement heifers because she was a little younger than the rest. Our sincere congratulations go to Kyle “Mitchell” Davis who has been working with her since May 2018 and overcome any size constraints due to her age. She will sell at the fair this afternoon. Thanks Kyle.
With evening G & Ts
we will stare
across the creek
at black hills,
white ash remains
cut by cowtrails—
pink phos-chek trim
between blond dry feed
until it rains
until it rains
We map the burn,
watch the weather,
hope for ground soft-enough
to drive steel posts
for five barbed strands
of Red Brand
because good fences
make better neighbors
for a long time.
Ashes, white on black
slopes, drought-dead Blue Oaks, final
portraits of a fire.
It’s black early yet,
few lanterns glowing
across the quiet canyon,
drought-killed Blue Oaks:
in the rock-hard ground.
The wind will turn
the burnt to gray
until the rains
bring a fresh green
we can change.
It could have been several thousand acres of fences and feed. Robbin, Bob and I thank the entire CalFire crew for their professionalism, the pilots for their impressive air support, the dozer operators cutting breaks and blading existing tracks in the dark for what seemed to be well-over a dozen 4×4 engines, the water tenders and the often-overlooked hand crews with boots that still remain on our otherwise inaccessible ground. It was impressive. Thank you all!