It’s calving time!


Every year in the ‘Spring’ (Spring starts in January, deal with it) we start calving. We have a herd of mostly black cows, mostly Angus and they all have a baby every ‘Spring’. I try as a responsible blogger, Facebooker and general book promoter, to take pictures of the babies and inspire people to say things like, “Ahhh, they’re so cute!” In the hopes that will make them buy my books. We have a small group of cows that are due to give birth in the next couple of weeks, then the bigger bulk of the cows start calving mid-February. But right now we’ve got this little group, let’s call it a Mommy Group, close to the house who will soon give birth.

As always the cows are delighted to see me. Here (above) is one delighted mama trying to decide if she can crash through the fence and get me.


Here is another of our soon-to-be moms, staring at me, as if it’s MY FAULT she’s living out in the cold instead of inside the house. If you wanted to live in here honey, you shouldn’t have come with a built in fur coat. Get over yourself.

IMG_0175Here is the same cow appealing to My Cowboy husband for just a bit of PRIVACY from the paparazzi in her delicate condition. Face it girl, he’s on my side. He wants these books to sell like hotcakes. How a picture of you will help escapes him, but he’s willing to play along with me.

IMG_0172I just wanted to include this picture because she is an almost perfect cow. Look at her shape, how she is almost rectangular in her body, the deep belly, the straight back, the square chest and (ahem) butt. This is a body type we look for and love. In cows. When it is used to describe me, it’s not so thrilling.


Here are three girls all together, all acting just a little bit stand offish. But I want you to notice the middle one. She’s going to be FIRST! to the extent any baby’s births can be predicted of course. And she’s interesting because (prepare for a close-up)

FirstShe is a cow not born on our ranch. We buy some replacement cows and this one we call MITTEN. Why? Because she’s got a Mitten branded on her front shoulder.

Prepare for another close-up

Mitten cowSee it? yes, it looks a bit like a heart but there is an actual ranch called Mitten Brand Ranch and we know who they are and we bought this cow and it came originally from them. So it’s a mitten and Mitten is gonna be a mama. I follow the antics of our cows and calves (some of them are just ridiculous!) on Facebook. Click Here and Like me on Facebook if you want to come and join in the fun. It’ll be great! (Assuming the cows don’t get any unfriendlier, and of course assuming it isn’t chilly or wet out. that’s just NO FUN for me) The fun should begin because this mama is due in TWO DAYS!!!  I was hoping I’d have a calf for this blog post but she failed me. (that’s right, it’s allllllllllllllllllllll about me!)

Go like me on Facebook. for the grand cow adventure. (again, if it’s not too chilly)

And leave a comment involving and encounter with an UNFRIENDLY ANIMAL to get your name a drawing for a signed copy of A Match Made in Texas


A Novella Collection written with my Petticoats & Pistols cohort Karen Witemeyer along with Regina Jennings and Carol Cox.

Website | + posts

Author of Romantic Comedy...with Cowboys including the bestselling Kincaid Brides Series

72 thoughts on “It’s calving time!”

  1. I grew up in a small Nebraska TOWN but married a farmer from a nearby smaller town. While I had spent time on my Uncle’s farm, I was only a helper because the boys(my cousins) could do it faster. What was “it”? Whatever they were trying to do. Slop the hogs(they thought it was funny to have me help with this because I usually ended up covered in slop.)

    Shortly after marriage my husband and father in law asked for my help sorting the cattle. Not having a clue what I was getting myself into but wanting to impress his dad I eagerly said yes. All I had to do was hold a board gate and keep the cows from the calves that were being herded behind me. No body told me that they were weaning the calves and that those mamas would run over me to get to their babies! Well after successfully keeping the first babies behind me I was feeling very brave so when the next HUGE black mama came running at me I held my ground……no really I held my ground flat on my back as she ran over the gate on top of me. No I was lucky…nothing broken except my pride but I soon learned how to get out of that job! Being pregnant first and then having boys kept this human mother where she belonged, watching from the house.

  2. An unfriendly animal? Well, there was this 7-foot rattlesnake once. We measured him. Later.

    Fun post, Mary. And the sooner the cows understand it’s all about you, the better, right?

    Nancy C

  3. Hi Mary, we have a small herd of Angus ourselves and when those babies start coming those mamas get very protective. Same way with goats. We raise a few boar goats, mind you, the cows and goats, as well as a few horses and two dogs are all just pets it seems. Anyway, a mama goat can get her feathers ruffled pretty quick when it comes to her baby even if you are trying to help her or the baby if difficulties arise. I have had to lock a mama in a separate stall long enough for me to help her baby and get the baby right back to her quickly… appreciation what so ever!

  4. We had a rooster growing up who thought he was the best rooster ever! It was my job to collect the eggs and every time I went I had to have garbage can lid to fend him off. The rooster would even chase our dogs. But one time he got the best of me and tried to attack and chase me. needless to say later that day My dad made him our main course for dinner. I think even the hens were grateful!

  5. Here in my valley we have calving time, very soon. It is fun to drive to Bishop (60 miles north), and see all the newborn calves all along the way. We just have horses and mules. They are cute too, but not like baby calves.

  6. Hello Mary. Baby time huh? Glad no one made me have a baby every year. Poor cows! LOL As for unfriendly animals, my step-daughter had a pit bull dog and it was very unfriendly every time I went to visit her. It would snarl and growl and come toward me showing it’s teeth. She swore it wouldn’t bite me but I told her I wasn’t taking any chances. I would honk and wait for her to come to the door before stepping out of my car. She would talk to it and it would go to the backyard. If she didn’t answer, then I left. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  7. I had a garter snake in the house once. I wasn’t very friendly and since I pay the mortgae it had to go. I went to get my neighbor to remove it however, we believe the snake found it’s own way out. I had the sliding doors replaced which is where I believed it came in by. It’s been a year and a half and still no sign of that snake.

  8. Oh my gosh! I love calves. There are still a couple farm near our house and I always love yo drive around in the spring to see the babies. We’ll often drive far out in the country just to see the babies too. I went to your Facebook page and can’t wait to see all the baby pictures.

  9. Hi Mary, Love your cow pictures and the stories about each one. Our neighbor has black cows and whenever they escape they come and visit.
    I used to have pony that bullied me around when I’d try to ride her, like take off and dump me. Finally a friend had an older mare that my parents bought for me to build my confidence up. Well it worked because one day I decided to get my pony and give her a run for her money and took her and made her do what I wanted; like go where I wanted to go. She fought me for a solid 30 minutes; she reared, tried taking off and bucking but I stuck her out and won because she behaved beautifully from then on and I’m still here!

  10. We raised bison for a decade so the list is endless of near escapes and problems. For bison baby births-we usually just stay out of the pasture with buffalo mamas because they rarely have problems. Talk about protective- think quick speed and horns!
    But one year cow Freda had her calf but it was barely moving. Hours later and it still hadn’t gotten up right. We moved into the pasture with the van, the tractor, and the pickup and VERY quickly drove and made a triangle of protection around the calf, my husband and a helper jumped out of vehicles to pick up the calf and lay in the pickup bed. The buffalo cow just about jumped over the tractor scoop to get to the guys. We got out of the pasture, but the calf still died anyway.
    Good luck with the calving season, Mary!

  11. My only problem with animals came from a beagle that our neighbors had. It bit me twice. I didn’t tease it or anything. I just rode by on my bike. Chomp! Like I said it bit me twice. This was as a kid. The dog bit other kids too. Another dog from my adult years ran out and grabbed me one day when I was riding my bike. What is it with dogs and bikes? Anyway that dog bite earned the owner a trip to the judge. This dog too had taken a bite out of several people. I as a rule have no problems with animals. I grew up spending time at my grandparents farm where I fed and watered the cows, drove my grandfathers truck while he put out hay and rode my pony and calves as a kid.Not fun to be bucked off but I think that was the point as far as they were concerned. I’ve had a couple of run ins with snakes (don’t like them at all) but as a whole I have had dogs and cats, I even had some pet mice(gave them to a school). Good luck with the calving season Mary. I love your posts and watch out for the spiders. Did you see Castle Monday?

  12. Found a skunk hiding inside a hose reel…..and it was VERY unhappy to be discovered! And I was VERY unhappy to try to clean away the odor.

  13. Connie J are you still in Nebraska? How come I don’t know this?
    You’re lucky the gate protected you. Cows are huge I don’t know why we think we can push them around. But we do, and mostly we can because the cows seem to think we can push them around too.

    Then every once in a while one or them decides NO and we end up on the ground.

  14. MELANIE my sister has goats. She’s a doctor so the goats are strictly a hobby but she and her husband live on the edge of town and they’ve got some old Country Boy and Girl muscles they like to flex and they do it with goats and chickens and ducks.
    Boar goats too. I didn’t know mama goats were mean. But why wouldn’t they be, huh? What self-respecting mama in any species won’t fight for their babies?

  15. Cori, seriously a mama chicken is, pound for pound, the meanest animal on the planet. Thank heaven’s their small or they’d wipe out the rest of the world.
    As for roosters, well they’ve got that same King of the Flock/Herd/Whatever attitude of all alpha male animals (including men sometimes!)
    Not sure why they gotta be so mean to the ones who FEED THEM. Surely if they had a lick of sense they’d get on to you meaning them no harm.
    (carefully overlooking that the rooster ended up in a stew pot!!)

  16. We live on a ranch in East Texas, & I had to shoot a 5′ rattlesnake. I was just fine until it was all over. Then I called my dad & immediately starting crying! Those rattlesnakes are mean looking animals!

  17. Oh Mary!! I would love to be inside your head for just a few minutes. What interesting things I’d find. I just love your take on things. Cars you sell by the pound, pregnant Mama cows, semen on your porch. I never know what you’ll post next. But this one is a keeper for sure! Loved it.

    Take care and stay warm. It’s a killer out there. Now, don’t you feel really sorry for these outcast cows? LOL

  18. One of my Grandfathers raised a lot of turkeys and when my sister and I used to go into their pen they would chase us. Especially since we screamed and ran. Scairy for a kid. Of course, we were not supposed to get in their area.

  19. When my Dad was a boy of about 8 or 9, they had a rooster that loved to spur him, nobody else, just him. He said this mean old rooster would hide and see Dad come out and come up behind him and spur him. Well, it did it one time too many. He came out of the house and the rooster attacked him. He went back into the house and got a gun and told his Mother, I’m killing that rooster. They ran around and around and around the house in the chase and for some reason the rooster turned and starting coming back at him and he shot and killed it.

  20. We had a big baldie/brangus cow hubby called Angel–the obvious being she was anything but such a creature. She could jump a tall building in one leap and was harder than ice on a pond in January to get into a working chute to doctor her.

    One year we had a scourge of anaplamosis…death for a rancher (or one pretending to be). So, all the cows were brought in to doctor. My job…close the head gate on the chute, and give two shots on my side of the cow while hubby hurried to the other side to give his.

    But in order to do that…said cow must cooperate. And Angel had other plans. While standing at the head gate, very quietly and as much out of sight as a hedge post would allow, I heard hubby praying…well, not exactly…actually he was speaking in a tongue that did not usually come forth from his lips, while Angel had him cornered preparing him for last rites. Two arms hanging over the fence, and feet kicking like mad, bloodied and bruised, hubby finally won and Angel went back into the barn.

    However–said experience now changed hubby’s disposition altogether and his instructions to me were “okay mama, (he was referring to me, I think) I’m gonna try this one more time…you get on that gate over there in case she wants to try jumping, and by golly she’s going into that chute.”

    Armed with two whips ( I always carried whips with me into the corral, hoping it made me look a bit more fearless), I climbed the gate, needing to use the necessary too badly to do anything but straddle and pray.

    And Angel? Well, she walked out of that barn, took one look at me and my whips, looked at my mostly pride-bruised hubby, and with a huff and a sling of slobber, walked like her name into the chute, stuck her head through and waited for hubby to bang the gate closed.

    I think she was smiling when she was turned loose, hubby still muttering under his breath with a whole string of new names for her.

  21. Hi Mary J. I can’t wait for the babies to start coming. They are so cute. We’ve got us a NASTY cold day today and really windy. TWO MORE DAYS UNTIL THAT BABY IS DUE and in two days the weather is supposed to be really nice, so I’m hoping she waits. Today is better and tomorrow will be better still.

  22. LORI now I’m stuck with a mental picture of you bickering over a rental agreement with a garter snake.
    SIGN HERE (You’re Snidely Whiplash in this story–sorry) or you will be thrown out into the cold!!!!!

  23. Janine it’s so fun to drive past the yards and pastures with the baby calves frolicking. They really do jump and run and play ‘head butting’ with each other. So cute to watch.

  24. Wow, Jennifer, YOU GO GIRL! You’re practically riding a bucking bronco. I’m so proud of you. We had horses when I was a kid and the ponies were so sure they were in charge. And honestly………they were.

  25. Many years ago I was visiting my friend and her horse got out. She told me to stand in front of it and wave my arms so we could get it back in the corral. I said like hell I will and ran into the house and locked the door. LOL

  26. Linda OH MY GOSH, a buffalo cow trying to kill you. This is a story that’s going to be hard to top.
    I know how tough buffalo calves are and I suppose if that calf died there was something inside it wrong with it, don’t you think? Because they usually just about POP TO THEIR FEET. I read somewhere that they’re usually standing in about 90 seconds. And they’re often born to a mama following the migrating herd and the mama barely pauses for the calf to be born, then she just starts walking again. The calf either gets up and follows or is left behind and dies.
    That may sound heartless, but it makes for a tough animal. All the weak die!

  27. You had me utterly charmed until you got to the pet mice, Connie. ARE YOU MAD! PET MICE!!! WHEN DID PETTICOATS AND PISTOLS BECAUSE A HORROR BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (you maybe can’t tell but I hate mice! I know I try to be discrete about it!)

  28. You know, Linda I do feel sorry for them and yet they all seem to survive just fine. They don’t even seem to MIND! I can’t imagine it’s not painfully cold but they cope. I suppose they are made for the outside.
    I remember we had a dog, an Australian Shepherd, who hated the summer, spent most of it under the porch panting, then in the winter he’d just come alive. On snowy days he’d lay flat on his belly, front legs extended ahead, back legs extended behind and he’s drag his belly across the snow down the slope out the front of the house. That dog LOVED COLD WEATHER.
    His fur was thick, I suppose he was just built for it.

  29. JOYE! Hi, my neighbor lady years ago raised turkeys, just a small thing, like ten turkeys thinking for Thanksgiving and Christmas and for her mom and sisters.

    And they weren’t penned up, just allowed to run loose and scratch in the dirt for food (she fed them too, and they had a coop but not fenced) that whole year her children couldn’t go outside to play. And my neighbor couldn’t go out without a broom because those turkeys, which mostly stayed away from the house, would sometimes pop up and just ATTACK. Well, I think she particularly relished eating them and she never raised turkeys again. Lesson learned.

  30. Kathy, I think I like your dad and his whole family. I like him for fighting back and I like it that his folks let an 8 year old loose with a gun to fight for himself.

    That’s probably illegal now. LOL Good think he got the rooster when he had a chance.

  31. anon1001, we had a bat in the house once. I REMAINS ONE OF THE MORE HORRIFYING AND HILARIOUS EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFE.

    This blog ain’t big enough to tell it all. FOUR IN ONE WEEK!!!???
    You lived to tell the tale. Yeesh!

  32. The only thing I can come up with was when I was a teen and walking to the school bus stop, I was attact by a dog that bit me on the leg. I was afraid to walk back by that house to go home so I went on to school. I thought my mother was going to kill me for going on to school, she was really mad and told me I should have came back home. Or I could tell you about the time my brother jumped over a car trying to get away from a bull that was chaseing him.

  33. I look outside and see my landlords cows. I hope he doesn’t have too many calves until this extreme cold lets up. Hope it isn’t so cold there. I will buy your books without pictures of your calves.
    An unfriendly animal was once a possium when he was old and snarled at my girls when they would go outside to feed the kittens and cats. So my husband took care of him after he tried to attack me but I had a broom and kept pushing him back. So his life ended with a bullet. But most possiums are no problem. But my landlord said their droppings are bad for horses.

  34. Hi Mary, laughing out loud as usual. I’m intrigued about the actual mitten brand. I have been misled into thinking ranch and farm critters have microchips these days. I LOVE your cows big and small.

    Sadly I have no animal stories to relay. I am filling out a neat journal my daughter gave me for Christmas, a hardback called “Mother Share Your Life With Me” with each date of the year having a prompt to write about. It’s only January and I’ve concluded I am the most boring person ever born.

    Good luck with all the newcomers. xo

  35. Well, our family has had their share of animal encounters- bulls, cows, horses, goats, and chickens to name a few.

    For example:
    Disgruntled cows = Broken bones in hand
    Mad mama goat = Dislocated knee cap
    Spirited horse = Hard landing on your backside
    Angry rooster = DINNER (Just kidding!)

    The rooster attack is the unfriendly encounter we talk about the most. Oh my word, I looked out the window one Sunday afternoon and saw that stinkin’ bird chasing my three-year old. His spurs were shining, feathers were flying, and my poor little one was running and screaming for his life. Needless to say, we were out the door in a flash. We headed the bird off before a full attack ensued, but the rooster did leave his mark in a few places. Bless his heart, my little guy still talks about that rooster attack!! Needless to say, the rooster was relocated to our neighbor’s flock that very afternoon. We now enjoy chickens only; no roosters allowed!

  36. Tanya, no microchips. We don’t brand. We use ear tags. But in Western Nebraska it’s the LAW. You have to brand your cattle. We’re east of the line where it’s the law.

  37. Britney, wow, all those injuries and it’s the rooster attacking your child you want to talk about.

    But I get that. Nothing makes a mother more furious than protecting her child. Which is, I suppose (mumbling…hating to admit it…) what’s going on in the mama animal’s mind.

  38. Growing up on a dairy farm I have had PLENTY of non-friendly encounters with animals. Where to start…. the most traumatic was I walked under the opening to the hay mow above just when my grandpa threw a bale down. It flattened me and shoved me into the trough where the cows were eating AT THAT MOMENT. I was about 8. After being stunned, I looked up and see this huge mouth coming down to me licking the snot out of me. I probably soiled my pants while trying to get out of there. I still remember it to this day. *shudder*
    (yes, that is more traumatic to me than getting stampeded by heifers. Don’t judge)

  39. Great post and comments. If we have animals we have had scary incidents. I personally have never been run over by a cow or horse,come close a time or two. I have screamed as the ram went after my husband as he tried to help a ewe, yelled at my sister to run when the mamma cow came after her ( why do we keep those bad tempered cows anyway? My dad kept that one for eight or nine years and we had to watch her every year.), went after a rooster with a club after he jumped on my daughter’s back. That rooster also ended up on the dinner table.

  40. Susan, wow talk about a ‘series of unfortunate events’. Yeesh. And 8, such a fragile age. You’re lucky you got out of it with everything intact. (Not counting your pants of course!)

  41. Um…Hilltop Farm Wife, when you whacked the rooster, since it was on your daughter’s back…well….I hope you were CAREFUL. Since your daughter was in the line of fire and all!

  42. Love the post. Love animals. My encounter with an unfriendly animal was when I was 9 years old, we were living in Japan (Air Force brat) and a neighbor had a Keeshond dog. Looked just like our dog that we had to leave with my Grandma in the States. Well, she wasn’t friendly and bit me on my hand. The next week I was just sure she was going to like me and she bit me on the same hand. Needless to say, we never became friends. It was sad. 🙁

    Would love to win a copy of A Match Made in Texas. Thank you for the chance.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  43. Enjoy your cow and calf “journeys.” I’ve had a few cow adventures and can attest that they aren’t all that friendly during calving season. I was out with our neighbor in the dawn mist looking for a mama who had stayed out and calved the previous night. It was a dairy farm, so we were dealing with holsteins. He sent me out of the field when we got near the tree line because she had a temper, especially when it came to her babies.

    The encounter that shook me up the most happened when I was in 4th grade. I was walking from school to the town library. It was a weekday afternoon, and the neighborhood and streets were pretty empty. I heard barking behind me and turned to see 4 or 5 dogs running towards me. (This was back in the mid 1950’s, so exact details are a bit fuzzy) I do remember one was a german shepherd with the others a mixed lot of smaller dogs. I had never heard of dogs running in packs, but it just didn’t feel right. I ran to the nearest house and pounded on the door. No one answered and by that time the dogs were on the porch. I spent the next 10 minutes or so sandwiched behind the storm door keeping the barking dogs away from me. They eventually gave up and moved on.

    I roamed the woods in the Adirondacks of NY for all my years in high school and college. I hiked, did animal research projects, and just generally explored. I never worried about the wild animals roaming the woods. I saw a few and tracked even more, but my worst experience was in town with domestic dogs.

  44. Patricia I am HORRIFIED by that dog attack. Wow. Not one thing funny about that. So you swung storm door shut as tight as you could with the main door locked behind you?
    God have mercy, you handled that brilliantly.

  45. Just remembered a more recent encounter. On the way home from work a few years ago, a mother bear followed by a cub ran in front of the car ahead of me. He hit the cub, the mother kept going into the woods. The cub was still alive, but injured. I lived less than a mile away so told the guy I would call the wildlife officer and report it. I came back with my husband a few minutes later, in time to see the man who hit the cub closing his tailgate. He left before we parked. We got out and walked the side of the road to see if the injured cub was there. We were maybe 300 feet from the car when we turned back. Just then, the mama bear came out of the woods right at our car. I’d left the passenger door wide open and she spent time checking out the car (luckily not going inside). We stood there not sure what to do. She was obviously looking for her baby. Cars passed us by and no one even slowed down. We stood there trying to think what we would do if the bear decided to head our way. The closest house was at least 1/4 mile away, past the bear. Luckily, she finally finished her inspection, crossed the road, and ran into the woods. We wasted no time getting into our car and heading home.

    Oh, yes, our son was attacked by a bear in our back yard, but that is another long story.

  46. Nope, I grew up in northern NY and now live in Northeast Tennessee in the foothills of the Smokey mountains. The national forest on the east side of the road where the cub was hit is a bear preserve. There are way too many of them around. Those people who live right along it (we are across a river from it) have many bear problems. They often have 2 or 3 in the yard. As far as I know, our son has been the only one physically attacked. Of course he did punch the bear in the nose : )

  47. Oh great! Mary asks if the seven foot rattlesnake was in my house. Go ahead. Thanks a lot, Mary. I’m sure my imagination can take it from there.

    Nancy C

  48. Oh how I miss calving season. We had a small herd that we had to get rid of when my husband’s cancer got so bad. After he passed I didn’t have the heart to buy more cows, but I still.miss calving season.

  49. Okay so I wasn’t the person actually having this encounter but…. I’m gonna share it anyway.
    My family and I were at a tiger refuge in Oklahoma and we paid extra to get to pet a baby tiger and a six month old lion. Well, the lion was on the porch of a trailer, and so was my then three year old daughter. I guess she bent over to look at a bug or something, because one minute she was standing there and the next… She had a ferocious hungry lion trying to take a bite out of her backside. I grabbed her and the young hero in charge of giving us a behind the scenes encounter valaintly grabbed onto the lion and wrestled it away. And there is the HEA ending.
    Of course, I could have shared about when just hours earlier my eight year old was chased by a tiger. Or how about last year when we were van camping in Key Largo Fl, and a endangered Key Largo woodrat found its way into our van in the middle of the night and was going nuts.
    But I’ll save those for another time.

  50. My scary encounter was way back when I was about six. We were at my Grandparents dairy farm (North Dakota) and got to go in the barn during milking time. One of my cousins got tired of waiting for Grandpa to show us a cow up close and ran forward. He tripped right behind a cow and scared her. She stepped on his finger. Didn’t break any thing, but I sure learned a healthy respect for cows and following directions.

    Love your cow stories. You don’t need them to convince people to buy your books though – your awesome writing and humor do that already.

  51. My other encounter was in grad school – caretaking a house built in 1880s. Big old three story. A racoon got in through the doggy door and decided to use the bathroom for grooming opportunity. Phoned animal control and they helped me trap the dude the next night. Felt sort of sorry for the critter – but only a little. He woke me in the middle of the night.

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