Horns a plenty. (Editor's Note).
We've learned to roll with the punches, or the stomps, as the case may be, here at the ranch, so nothing takes us by surprise, not very often anyway But this year, we were all fooled in mid-January
Our new cow boss isn't due to arrive until late February about when all the new little calves are scheduled to start being born. It's not an exact science, of course, when dealing with bulls chasing wandering heifers, but usually we can count on March and April being the prime time for calving.
Well, last year Dad went to a sale to buy new bulls to add to our herd, but they ended up costing him more than he planned. So, Dad pulled the ranchers' longstanding technique of making himself feel better by also buying four cows, of lesser quality stock than we breed, so he could spread out his cost over the purchase of seven head instead of three. We brought home the three bulls and four small cows, which, if bred with our bulls, would have babies to eventually grow into our herd. The newcomers are two solid red, one black and another red-and-white with "big spiked hair."
Dad's taken a lot of ribbing about these. The black one is the only black in our herd, earning her the name of TOBC, "The Old Black Cow." The unique red-and-white has long horns spiking skyward. Ward calls her "Reindeer."
Ward always made a point of guffawing when reporting the daily count. "Well, the black is easy to spot, and Reindeer's hairdo makes her taller than all the others."
One day Dad came back from a daily round in a ranch truck counting cows in one pasture, and wewere missing a cow. Just days before we had a couple stolen by rustlers, so he was worried we had lost another. The next morning, Ward rode out on horseback to find the prodigal daughter.
There she was -- TOBC proudly strutting among the herd showing off a newborn calf by-her side. Not only was the little elf the first-born surprise of the new year, he was black. That means wily TOBC had been secretly dilly-dallying next door with one of the neighbor's black Angus. fellas.
Dad is feeling all smug now. "See, I told you they are outstanding cows. A little smaller and not much to look at, but they're very fertile."
Ward says the little black calf bellows and complains a lot even though he's healthy and well-fed. Perhaps he's just crowing about being 2002's first. I call him Little Gremlin.
I suspect soon Dad will approach me -- savior of orphans, runts and the uniques -- with one of his "special deals" to buy TOBC and start my own black Angus herd.
Reindeer, too, would fit right in with my other cow, the last of our Longhorns, old Mama Roja, who is resting after bearing 14 calves. She has the prettiest, meanest and longest set of outstretched longhorns this side of Texas. Now, if I could just train the pair as watchdogs!
Donna Doyle, Editor-in-Chief.