My wife and I were hiking along a fence line of a pasture, when we came upon a cow aggressively licking a very wet looking calf on the ground. The calf was barely able to stand. The cow had the umbilical cord hanging from her rear. A calf had been born. For that afternoon we kept an eye on the little white faced newborn. It all seemed so interesting and dare I say gentle…the ‘mother’/calf thing. The next day we happened by and the little white faced calf was up and about, staying near the mother cow. Off in another area, near us, was a different cow. Tail partially raised…vulva protruding. We moved on to check out an area nearby for fishing, not realizing the nearby cow was about to give birth. A short time later. we returned and there on the ground was a new born calf…sopping wet, the mother cow licking away on the calf and again the umbilical cord hanging from the mother cow’s rear end. Two new born calves in two days. It all seemed, on the surface as interesting and ‘cute’.
Then the questions started: will the ranchers know the calves were born? What happens if it is a female or a male? How many calves does a cow have in her life time? How many bulls are on a ranch for how many cows? How many years do the cows live? Then a little greenhorn research provided the realities of castrated male calves, heifers, breeding, bulls & the end game…beef!
My research results ended up generating a “I don’t want to hear about it” from my wife. The calves were cute trotting around, some head butting, some staying close to their mother cows. But, our obvious naiveté to the daily realities of ranching was a worthy learning experience.
I like my steaks medium rare. Looking at the eventual source challenged my city born and bred life style awareness of food production. No apologies…just nice to experience both sides of the food chain.