IT'S THE PITTS -- CARE OF THE COWBOY AT CALVING

by: Lee Pitts

The birthing process makes men very nervous, whereas women are used to this sort of thing. Therefore, the careful and observant ranch wife will be alert to the actions of her husband as calving season approaches.

Signs of Approaching Parturition

About three weeks prior to the first birth the husband will become extremely nervous. The first sign of approaching parturition will be a noticeable increase in his liquid intake of medicinal forms of alcohol. This drinking will cause a noticeable enlargement of the belly. The expectant rancher will take on a distended look and the fatty tissue surrounding the tailbone will begin to droop. The rancher's eyes will become glassy and there may be a mucous discharge from the nose, excess saliva and tears from the eyes. This is caused from worrying about the fact that the neighbors 2,800 pound water buffalo may have bred all the replacement heifers.

Care of the Cowboy Prior to Parturition

The nutrient requirements of the expectant husband are much less at calving time. It is not unusual for the rancher to completely lose his appetite and play with his food. It is especially important to watch first time calving cowboys as they will frequently need some assistance. They will separate from the rest of the herd, display false signs of labor and sit in the pick-up for hours on end looking at their cell phones. As if that's gonna help.

The first sign of impending birth will be the cowboy's rear legs emerging from the pick-up. You should carefully jerk him back in the truck as the heifer is probably three days away from calving at this point. In a normal presentation the rancher's head peeking out of the truck window will be the next sign. At this point you should render assistance by tying the husband to the steering wheel with the calving chains as the heifer's water bag is not even visible yet and he may spook her.

As your husband's straining becomes more violent he may actually moan and roll on the ground with sympathy pains. You should completely ignore these antics. Instead you should help your husband with his breathing technique and keep all sharp objects away from him. By the time the rancher's rear legs have passed through the narrow opening of the truck the newborn calf should be safely hidden from the rancher by her mother.

After Birth

After the calf has been born the husband should be kept completely away from the calf as he may leppy the calf. Wives, under no circumstances should you allow your husband to weigh the calf or ear tag it because in all likelihood the calf will attempt to bond with the rancher by sucking his kneecap. Then the rancher will want to keep it in the house with him. He'll say it's what's best for the calf. The husband should be discouraged from looking at paint chips for the nursery and getting a room ready in your home for the newborn. You should pay no attention to his plaintive cries of "Mommy, please, please, can it watch TV with me? It's only for a little while."

Calving Loss

As calving season winds down the rancher will suffer from post-partum depression. From past experience we know that most husbands at this point will just lay around the house and will refuse to go into labor of any kind. The ranch wife should then quit her job in town to stay home with her big baby.

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